Chances are that you are in the habit of only eating from a rather narrow selection of whole grains that are readily available. This might mean some bran flakes in the morning, maybe whole-grain or wild rice, and wheat or rye bread for sandwiches. Of course, there is a whole world of healthy and different types of grains out there. They can be used for cooking and provide superior nutritional value and can easily be found at many supermarkets and natural food stores. Another excellent benefit of healthy grains is that they are a great way to get more fiber into your diet.
This one is much easier to cook than most other whole grains, only requiring about 15 minutes. It is also incredibly high in protein content with approximately 18 grams per cup (cooked). The taste is also very unique, with a rather nutty, chewy and mild flavor. It is perfect for using with stir fry dishes and other types of sauces. Also, this is steadily rising in popularity which means that it is becoming easier to find this grain. After using this one for a while chances are it may become your favorite as well.
No, barley is not just for beer anymore! It is chewy and nutty and has been show in research studies to be helpful in lowering cholesterol. This is particularly true in men, and the effects can begin showing up in as little as five weeks. If one of the reasons for adding more whole grains to your diet is for health reasons, especially lowering bad cholesterol levels, than this should definitely be one to think about. A great way to try this is in soup, with lots of mushrooms. It can also be toasted and used as a coffee substitute.
This is considered to be an ‘ancient’ grain that has been eaten in the Middle East for thousands of years. Essentially, this is whole wheat that has been harvested while still young and green, then roasted and cracked. You may have heard about this one already, since Oprah Winfrey has been pushing this on her show as well as her magazine a while back. Freekeh is incredibly high in fiber and protein, making it a perfect choice for vegetarians as well. This can easily be added to soups and salads.
Many people have heard of bulgur wheat already because it is the main ingredient in a traditional Middle Eastern tabouli salad. Of course, this can also be used in a number of additional ways. It is also very healthy with high levels of fiber. There is even instant bulgur (fine grain bulgur) that cooks in just five minutes. It goes well in salads and pilafs and is always a nice substitute for plain Jane white rice.
This grain has a larger shape, similar to that of barley, but it is round. The Israeli version of couscous has a nutty and savory flavor with a very chewy texture. Keep in mind, though, that this is actually made from semolina flour, so it is probably not technically a whole grain. However, you can also find a whole-grain version that is made from 100 percent whole wheat flour and then toasted.
Of course, there are tons of wholesale grains to choose from. Think about trying as many as possible and then continue using only your favorites. It will certainly add variety and nutrition to your diet!
Written by Jan Grainger. Jan has her own blog for healthy eating.