Cooking With Whole Grains

wheat berryIn my effort to remove processed foods from our diet, I’ve been learning how to switch to the healthier whole grain options. Switching from instant white rice to brown was a no brainer. Then, I began learning more about wild rice options. Rice was pretty much the staple of choice when adding a starch to my family’s dinner plate, however as I began to explore the never-ending bulk section at our local health food store, I realized there were so many more options.

I learned about the health benefits of whole grains and found that they contain the bran, the germ, and the endosperm that keep you feeling full longer because they take longer to digest. They also help keep your blood pressure in check as well as your blood sugar from spiking. It was  time these inexpensive, protein packed wonders became a part of my grocery list.  I found a great website that’s filled with information from soup to nuts (or grains) – Old Ways Whole Grain Council.

The very popular quinoa was first on my list of things to try. My first attempt was horrible. The bitter taste left me feeling like this whole grain idea just wasn’t going to work UNTIL I learned that I had to rinse the grain with water before cooking, to remove an outer layer that creates that bitterness. Once I learned how to cook it properly, this little seed became my side dish of choice.

I’ve added it as a base to my soups, a filler in meatloaf and chicken burgers, and when chilled it made a nice addition to summer salads. Over the past year, I’ve tried and enjoyed bulgur & barley as well. Recently, I brought home some wheat berries to experiment with.

Wheat berries make a nutritious and tasty addition to soups, stews, salads, and side dishes. They are high in carbohydrates and dietary fiber, rich in vitamins B1 and B3 and the mineral magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese and selenium.

Their nutty, sweet flavor make them a great addition to any menu. Savory as well as sweet dishes benefit from this incredible little grain. They are loaded with fiber and protein, along with a healthy serving of vitamin B.

To cook wheat berries, bring double the amount of water to grains to a boil, add grains and cover, Simmer on low heat until grains are soft (about 45 to 60 minutes). You can make a big batch ahead of time and store in refrigerator for about a week or in the freezer to be reheated when needed.

Here’s a simple recipe to try:  Wheat Berry, Apple, and Chicken Salad

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