A Guide to Whole Grains
A visual guide to common whole grains like barley, bulgur, cornmeal, oats, quinoa, rye and whole wheat.
Recipe: Easy Beef Barley Soup
Barley, a staple food in the Middle East, is known to North Americans mainly as a soup ingredient. It has a somewhat sweet taste that makes it an interesting addition to casseroles, pilafs, and salads. Barley is a source of soluble fiber as well as B vitamins and minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Bulgur and Wheat Berries
Recipe: Turkey & Bulgur Salad
Bulgar is cracked and roasted whole-wheat kernels; it has a nutty flavor and can be used to make pilaf or stuffing. Wheat berries are the whole kernels of wheat and can be used as a cereal or in baked goods.
Corn and Millet
Recipe: Cornmeal Oven-Fried Chicken
Corn and millet, an ancient grain of Asia and North Africa, are gluten-free; people with celiac disease can eat products made from them. Millet is made into tasty flat breads and can also be used in pilaf or as a stuffing for vegetables. Toasting millet in a dry skillet before cooking adds a nutty flavor.
Recipe: Energizing Granola
Oats are used in breakfast cereals and baked goods. Oat bran is high in soluble fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol levels. It also helps the body utilize insulin more efficiently, an important asset in controlling diabetes.
Recipe: Quinoa Squash Pilaf
Quinoa, an ancient grain, is lower in carbohydrate and higher in protein than most grains. This fluffy grain is sold as whole grain or as pasta and is great in salads. Pronounced, KEEN-wah, it's actually the seed of a plant related to beets and spinach. Packed with fiber, B vitamins, iron, zinc, calcium and vitamin E, quinoa also is tolerated by people on gluten-free diets.
Rice is the staple food for about half the world's population. Brown rice is preferable, because it is unrefined and high in B vitamins and fiber. Long-grain brown rice is closer in taste to the refined white rice that most North Americans customarily eat. Short-grain brown rice has a heartier texture and a nuttier flavor. White rice is stripped of its outer layers and is mostly starch with a little protein; some types are fortified with thiamine.
Recipe: Authentic Boston Brown Bread
Rye contains some gluten, which is the reason rye bread and pumpernickel breads tend to be heavy and moist.
Wheat and Kamut®
Make This Recipe: Chocolate Ribbon Banana Loaf
Wheat is one of the most widely consumed grains in the world. If, during milling, the bran (outer husk) and germ (located at the base of the grain) are removed, the end product is less nutritious than if left whole. Whole-grain wheat or whole wheat is a better choice, containing the bran as well as the germ of the wheat. Kamut® is related to the wheat family, has more fiber and protein than many grains. Its buttery flavor makes it great in salads.