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Whole Grains for Busy People: 3 Quick-Cooking Grains That Put Dinner on the Table in Less Than 30 minutes!

Posted Aug 04 2011 9:50am

 Most people think that in order to have whole grains in their diet they have to slave over the hot stove for hours. I am here to tell you this is not so!


Certain grains like quinoa, brown rice and cornmeal (also known as polenta), allow you to prepare meals with these unprocessed foods in half an hour or less!

If you are trying to escape the world of white breads and processed foods, these grains are perfect to start slowly adding into your weekly meals. Eating whole grains is a great way to get whole, real food (food in their most natural and nutritious state) in your body.

Here is an exercise to try to compare a whole grain to a highly processed grain:

The next time you are at the grocery store pick up a bag of brown rice (not a box of instant brown rice), just plain old brown rice and a box of vegetable rice pilaf.

Think to yourself before you look at the ingredient list what you think is in each container.

Start with the box of vegetable pilaf and begin reading the ingredients. Notice how the first few ingredients are identifiable. Then you start to get into words that seem like another language.

Compare this to the bag of brown rice and its’ ingredients.

Do you see my point?


Purchasing: Whole grains are incredibly cheap, especially if you buy them from bulk containers either in the organic section of the supermarket or from a local food co-op. I get all of my grains from our co-op here in town. The cost savings may not seem like much at first, a few bucks here and there, but over time, it will add up to big savings.

Preparation: If you have the time, it is always best to soak your grains. Soaking removes phytic acid, which some grains contain. This acid can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb some essential nutrients and with the digestion process. Take the amount of grain you are going to cook, place them in a bowl and cover with water, add some lemon juice or a touch of distilled vinegar and just set on the counter. You can leave these soaking overnight or for less, however much time you have is fine. This also helps to speed up the cooking process because this softens the grains.

If you do not have time to soak your grains, then skip this step and just rinse before cooking. I would rather you eat your grains unsoaked then not eat them at all.

Cooking: There are several ways you can cook grains but for the top three I recommend you start trying, quinoa, brown rice and polenta, the best and fastest ways to cook these grains are either on your stove top for polenta or in a rice cooker for brown rice and quinoa.

Stove top: Polenta is perfect for cooking on your stove top. Look for prepared polenta in the organic section of your food store; it will be refrigerated. You basically slice and sauté. I’m talking less than 6 minutes and your meal is half way done!

Rice cooker: To get into the kitchen to cook, all you need is a knife and pot. However, if you can get one, you will never regret buying a rice cooker! They make your life so easy! You just set it and forget it! Plus, it makes cooking rice and quinoa incredibly fast. By using your rice cooker, you can make both of these delicious grains in less than 20 minutes. All you have to do is add one part brown rice or quinoa to two parts water, put the lid on and set it. It clicks off when it is done. While your rice or quinoa is cooking, you can prepare the rest of your meal or catch up with your family. This kitchen tool allows you to prepare something that is so nutritious for your body without spending anytime in the kitchen. It just awesome!!

Don’t be afraid of time or taste when it comes to trying delicious whole grains like brown rice, quinoa or polenta.

Try one of these 3 recipes today! Use them as a side with vegetables and a good source of protein, or eat them as a whole meal. Enjoy!


 Quinoa with Summer Vegetables

Recipe by: Seasonal Garden Recipes


1/2 cup quinoa, soaked if time allows

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion or half a medium onion, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 zucchini, diced

1 large tomato or several cherry tomatoes, diced

4 ounces of feta cheese

8 fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn into little pieces

Sea salt and pepper to taste




Add quinoa to rice cooker with 1 cup of water and cook.


Heat olive oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes or until onions are translucent.


Add zucchini and sauté for 4 minutes.


Add tomatoes and continue to sauté until zucchini is tender.


Reduce heat to medium and add quinoa. Continue to cook until heated through.


Add feta cheese and basil. Stir until feta is melted. Season with sea salt and pepper and serve! Garnish with additional feta cheese crumbles and basil!


Polenta with Fresh Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Recipe by: The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet


One 16-ounce tube Polenta

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium tomatoes, finely diced

1 cup grated whole mozzarella cheese

3 -4 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, or sprinkled with dry




Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


Cut polenta into 12 equal slices, about 1/2 inch thick.


Arrange polenta on a large, oven-safe platter. Sprinkle evenly with the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Place platter in oven and bake 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil and serve.


Easy Fried Rice

Recipe by: Randi Munns


3/4 cup of brown rice, soaked if time allows

2 tablespoons of butter

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 carrot, diced

1/2 bunch scallion greens, chopped

Sea Salt and ground pepper

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons tamari sauce or soy sauce




Cook rice in a rice cooker.


In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat.


Add onions and garlic and saute, 2-4 minutes until onions are translucent.


Add carrot and saute an additional 4 minutes.


Add rice, scallion greens, vinegar, and tamari or soy sauce. Cook until heated through, 2-4 minutes.


Do you eat whole grains regularly? What are some of your favorite grains and how do you like to prepare them? What steps will you take to incorporate more whole grains into your diet? I would love for you to share your comments below or visit me on Facebook  . 


Randi's passion is to create positive change in a person's life that leads to prolonged health and happiness. She works with individuals who wish to lose weight, increase their energy, lower stress and manage and prevent disease through the use of natural health solutions. She is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, exercise enthusiast and rep for Young Living Essential Oils .

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