Whole Grains: How to Cook Whole Grains (cont.)

Wild rice: Wild rice adds a nutty flavor and chewy texture to any dish. To make it, use 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of wild rice. Use a saucepan with a tight-fitting cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring at least once. Cover the saucepan; turn down the heat to a simmer. Cook about 50 minutes or until the rice kernels puff open.
For the oven: Combine 1 cup of well-rinsed wild rice with 2 cups water or broth in a covered 2-quart baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Add more water, if necessary, and fluff with a fork. Bake 30 minutes more.
For the microwave: Combine 1 cup of well-rinsed wild rice with 3 cups of water or broth in a covered 2-quart glass casserole. Cover dish and microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes. Microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) for 30 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes; drain any excess water before using.

Bulgur (from hard red wheat): Use 2 cups of water or broth for every 1 cup of dry bulgur. Bring to boil in a medium saucepan, then lower heat to simmer. Cover saucepan; cook about 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
For the microwave: Combine 1 cup bulgur with 1 3/4 cups hot water in a microwave-safe dish. Stir and cover; cook on HIGH for 2 minutes, 15 seconds. Stir again, cover the dish and let stand for 7 minutes.

Buckwheat groats: Roasted buckwheat groats (also called kasha) are used to make pilaf and hot cereal. According to Bobs Red Mill, you cook it by combining 1 cup groats with 2 cups of water in a large saucepan. Cook 10-12 minutes over medium heat, then let stand for 5 minutes. (To help keep the cooked groats from clumping together, you can toast the dry groats in a nonstick pan for a couple of minutes before cooking.)
For the oven: The cooking directions for brown rice work with groats as well: Using boiling liquid, place ingredients in shallow pan or dish; stir. Cover well and bake at 350F for 50 to 60 minutes.

Quinoa: It's important to rinse quinoa well before cooking to remove a bitter-tasting resin on the outer hull. To cook, combine 1 cup of well-rinsed quinoa with 2 cups water in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer about 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Amaranth grain: Combine amaranth grain and water in a nonstick saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring mixture to a boil; cover pan and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until grains absorb the water and bind together (about 25 minutes).

Whole Grains in a Crockpot

Most of these whole grains will cook in liquids added to a slow cooker if it's on for about 8 hours. Just add half a cup or more to your slow-cooker stews and soups. If you're making a casserole-type dish in the slow cooker, make sure there's enough liquid for the grain to absorb.

You can also cook just the grains in the slow cooker overnight or throughout the day on the LOW setting, says Stockton, who suggests using 4 cups water per cup of whole kernel grains.

Whole Grain Recipes

Here are some recipes -- for hamburger buns, a barley salad, and -- that will help you work more whole grains into your diet.

Honey Wheat Hamburger Buns

Ingredients:
1 cup water (hot from the faucet)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed (also called flaxseed meal)
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons yeast (you can use rapid rise, active dry, or bread machine yeast)

Preparation:

  1. Set bread machine to the "dough" cycle. Add all the ingredients in the order listed here (or according to the manufacturer's directions) -- but add the salt to one of the corners of the bread machine pan, and make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast there.
  2. Press "start"; a nice dough should form in a few minutes. After the dough cycle (usually 1 hour and 40 minutes) place dough onto a floured work surface and cut in half. Cut each half into 4 equal portions (to make 8 total).
  3. Shape each of the portions of dough into round disks about 3 inches wide. Place on a nonstick jellyroll pan or cookie sheet; cover with a kitchen towel. Start preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pan near the oven or in another warm spot in your kitchen. Let dough rise about 30 minutes (or until double in size).
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked throughout and lightly brown on top.

Yield: Makes 8 hamburger buns

Nutrition Information per serving: 245 calories, 7 g protein, 44 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat, .5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 296 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 22%.

Barley & Bean Salad with Lemon Pepper Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1 cup pearled barley (barley groats can also be used, just increase the cooking time to 60-70 minutes)
4 cups water or vegetable broth
1 can (15.5 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup cashew pieces (or other roasted nuts)
1 cup shredded carrot
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

  1. Cook barley in gently boiling water or broth in covered medium saucepan until tender and water is absorbed (about 45 minutes). Let cool, or rinse with cold water and drain well.
  2. In large serving bowl, combine cooked barley, garbanzo beans, nuts, carrots, and parsley.
  3. In small bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper with whisk. Drizzle over barley mixture and toss to coat well. Cover and chill in refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving if time allows.

Yield: Makes 8 servings

Nutrition Information per serving: 230 calories, 7 g protein, 33 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 7 g fiber, 90 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 31%.

Cream of Chicken & Mushroom Casserole

Ingredients:
2/3 cup pearled barley, dry (or use barley groats, increasing the cooking time to about 90 minutes total)
1/2 cup basmati white rice (or long grain rice)
1 package dry onion soup mix (like Lipton's)
4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (about 1.6 pounds), each cut into 2 strips
1 can cream of mushroom soup, condensed (Healthy Request)
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream (or light sour cream)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups mushroom slices, raw
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted in nonstick pan until golden brown
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon parsley flakes)