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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Healthy grains to add to your diet

One of the mainstays of a nutritional diet is whole grains. Unlike processed flour, whole grains contain all parts of the seed for greater nutrition. We are used to eating whole wheat, cracked wheat and even oatmeal. But there are three grains that you may not be all that familiar with that provide incredible nutrition: bulgur wheat, barley and quinoa.

Bulgur Wheat

It has many spellings but it is all the same wheat. Bulgur is commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking. It is most often used as a cereal food. Bulgur is harvested from a variety of wheat but mostly durum.

It is different from other grains in that it is parboiled before it is packaged and sold. This makes it convenient for cooking. In prepared dishes, it only has to be reconstituted with water to be included. You can add it to uncooked dishes that require minimum cooking.

For those who are weary of grains and their flavors, bulgur has a nutty flavor. Soaking it in flavorful broth instead of water enhances its taste. If you haven’t cooked with bulgur before, you may recognize it as the main ingredient in tabbouleh salad. It is also added to muffins, soups and stuffing.




Quinoa

Quinoa is pronounced “keen-wa.” This small round grain was first discovered in South America. It is grown for its seeds which we eat. Processing removed the outer unpalatable coating to reveals a nutty tasting seed.

Quinoa can be used in dishes that call for rice and even couscous. It has fewer calories and more nutrients. Besides it is a gluten-free grain that is perfect for vegetarian dishes and for people on a gluten-free diet or allergic to it.

Quinoa is full of protein making it an excellent breakfast food. It is not a cereal grain per se but it can be eaten that way. Mix cooked quinoa with some nuts and honey to make a great hot cereal. To cook it, boil the seeds just like rice.
More help on how to cook quinoa

Barley

You may have heard of this grain but didn’t know what to do with it. Well, barley is a special grain. It comes in pearl form, flakes, grit form and as flour. Barley is high in fiber, both soluble and insoluble.

Cooked, barley lends its nutty flavor to soups, casseroles, salad and cereal. To get the most nutrition out of it, cook it yourself at home instead of choosing commercially prepared products. Barley makes a good ingredient or muffins and pancakes to add a little extra fiber and taste to your breakfast.

All three of these grains have health benefits. Their high fiber content makes them great for fighting heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Because they are grains, they release their energy slowly to fuel the body all day.

Beef Barley Soup Recipe


See more tips on how to cook whole grains. 

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