What’s in a grain?

I am sure you are someone that always hears how you should ‘eat your whole grains’ or ‘eat more whole grains.’  Do you know what this means?  Does it make you feel overwhelmed?  Well let me break it down for you nice and easy.

Whole grains have been the central element of the human diet since early civilization.  While many may be found in the rice section of your supermarket some may need a little more searching at the specialty market.  A lot of the whole grains can also be found in the bulk section of your market (and sometimes less than the prepackaged grains!).

A whole grain will keep you full a lot longer because they take longer for the body to absorb and digest them.  Whole grains provide a sustainable and high-quality energy for you to make it through the day easily.   They are also found to be an excellent source of nutrition because they contain vitamin E, iron, fiber, essential enzymes, and B-complex vitamins.

Grains also do not take very long to cook.  You could have them prepared in about 15-20 minutes (although some will take a bit longer).  You can substitute some or all of the liquid for broth as it will give them a bit more flavor.  Once cooked use a fork to fluff them instead of a spoon to stir.

Amaranth – This grain is high in protein (a complete protein) with 13-14%.  Has a short cooking time of about 15-20 minutes

Barley – Barley comes in two varieties hulled and pearled.  Hulled barley is higher in fiber than pearled.  The hulled variety has the outermost hull removed.  Pearled barley has the outer layer and the bran removed from it making it less nutritious and a bit chewy.  Barley does take a bit longer to cook at about 45 minutes.

Wild Rice – An interesting fact about wild rice is it is a grass.  The grain is harvested from the grass to make it something tasty for you to eat.  This is another high protein grain and is gluten free.  Wild rice is a product mainly of the United States and parts of Canada.  Just link barley this will also take about 45 minutes to cook.

Brown Rice – This grain is better choice than white rice because it has all of its layers that contain the nutrients.  It contains the highest amount of B vitamins out of all the grains.  Brown rice promotes good digestion, quenches your thirst, and also can balance blood sugar and mood swings.  It is also considered a complex carbohydrate which is good to maintain your energy.  This rice is also among the grains that take a bit longer to prepare at about 1 hour.

Buckwheat (kasha) – It is also one of the oldest traditional foods of Russia.  At first glace you may think that this is considered wheat but do not let the name fool you.  Buckwheat is actually a grain (and why it is on this list!) and also a relative of rhubarb.  Because it is not wheat and a grain it is gluten free.  Kasha is rich in vitamin E and B-complex and stabilizes blood sugar.  If you do not have all night available to you in the kitchen this grain will only take about 20 minutes to cook and is added to already boiled water.

Quinoa – The first time you saw this word you, like me, probably had no idea how to pronounce it.  This high protein grain has been consumed by those living in South America for thousands of years.  Quinoa has the highest nutritional value of all the grains.  It is high in vitamins B & E, iron, zinc, potassium, and calcium.  Containing all 8 amino acids makes it a complete protein.  Quinoa is also grain free.  You should soak the quinoa for at least 15 minutes before cooking to remove a possible bitter coating on the grain.  It can become a staple in your kitchen because it cooks fairly quick in about 15 minutes.  You know when it is cooked if you see a white ring on the outside of pot.

Bulgar (cracked wheat) – This grain is popular in Middle Eastern foods such as tabbouleh.  Just like many other grains it is high in fiber and protein.  It also has a low glycemic index.  Bulgar should also take about 20 minutes to cook.

Millet – This small round grain has been around for thousands of years.  It is popular in China, Russia, India, and Africa.  Millet is gluten free.  Looking for a grain that is highly nutritious than millet is the one for you as it is high in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium.  Millet will take about 30 minutes to cook.


What is your favorite grain?  Mine is quinoa.

Share your favorite recipe with me.


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