The versatility of whole grains
Grains are a dietary staple in most cultures, and a look at other cuisines can provide inspiration for your own cooking, and to make a point of choosing whole grains.
For example, long-grain rice is used as the basis of pilafs in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, while short-grain rice cooked in simmering broth produces the creamy risottos of Italy. These and other grains are now widely available, and you can be as creative as you like when cooking them.
Which grains can I use?
Grains can be eaten whole or processed into cold and hot cereals or flour for many food products, such as breads and pasta. In general, grains are a good source of vitamins, especially B vitamins, and the minerals calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. Healthy grains to use include:
Used to make cereals and flour, wholewheat grains or “berries” can also be cooked as a cereal or as you would rice. Whole-grain wheat is packed with B vitamins. For cracked wheat the grains are broken into small pieces for faster cooking. Bulgur wheat is cooked and dried, then ground coarsely.
These have more protein than most other grains. They are also high in soluble fibre, which helps eliminate cholesterol from the body. Whole oats (or groats) are the whole grain but with the hull removed. Rolled oats are whole oats that have been flattened between rollers.
Rich in starch, maize can be eaten fresh, as sweetcorn, or hulled and dried to become hominy (in whole or broken kernels) or grits (ground hominy). When ground to a meal, it is called polenta or cornmeal.
Whole pot barley is nuttier and chewier than pearl barley (polished barley without the hull and bran) and must be soaked before cooking. In malted barley, the grain is allowed to begin sprouting; it is the main ingredient in beer and malt whisky.
Similar to wheat in nutritional value, rye flour is frequently used with wheat flour in bread. Rye is available in whole and cracked rye grains, which can be cooked as cereal or rice, and as rye flakes for muesli.
This grain contains nearly as much protein as wheat. It is available in whole and cracked forms and is usually stripped of its tough, inedible hull. It is used in cakes, puddings, and soups, and as a substitute for rice.
An excellent source of protein, this grain can be substituted for, or added to, nearly any other grain and is particularly good in pilafs.
Retaining both the bran and the germ of the rice kernel, brown rice is a source of protein, carbohydrates, and fibre. Brown rice needs more water and longer cooking than white rice.
Not really a rice but a type of grass, this has twice the protein of white rice and fewer calories. Use it in the same way as white or brown rice.
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