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back to the basics: cooking with grains

Posted Jan 17 2012 6:00pm

Believe it or not, eating grains is not really my favorite thing to do.

Coming from an ex-carboholic, these might seem like blasphemous words. However, when I first became gluten free, grains were the first thing I learned to live without. That is a bad bad thing, my friends! Eating grains and carbohydrates are essential to a complete and nutritious diet. Whether I like it or not, I have to make sure I get enough whole grains into my diet each and every day. Despite claims, carbohydrates are not bad for you. They provide your body with instant energy to burn! In fact, no food group is “bad” for you – you need them all to be healthy and happy!

Since we’re on the subject of grains, some of my favorite grain sources include:

  • oats (of course!)
  • short grain brown rice
  • quinoa
  • brown rice couscous
  • gluten free pastas

Obviously as a gluten free girl, there are some grains I cannot eat – barley, rye, and wheat to name a few. I have found though that the grains I listed above are great to incorporate into any diet, not just a gluten free one.

If you’re like me and try to get your bang for your buck by buying in the bulk section, those grains are not going to come with an instruction manual on how to prepare them! When preparing grains, there is usually a rule of thumb (with an exception – of course!) for most. For the majority of grains, you use 1 part grain to two parts liquid. I thought it might be nice for you all to have some sort of cooking guide, so I hope the table below is helpful.


Liquid to grain ratio

Cook Time

Oats 2 to 1 5-10 minutes, depending on desired consistency
Rice** 2 to 1 40-45 minutes
Quinoa 2 to 1 15-20 minutes
Brown Rice Couscous 2 to 1 15-20 minutes
Gluten Free Pastas Just use a lot :)

14-16 minutes, depending on package directions

**This is not a guideline for quick cook or instant rice.

Some grains are more nutritionally dense than others. For example, quinoa is a complete protein – making it higher in fiber and protein than most other grains. The reason for this is because quinoa is actually a seed. While it’s usually lumped into the “grains” category, that’s really  not the case! Grains are super versatile, making them easy to incorporate into any meal.

I have so many recipes that feature grains, and it was hard to pick a few of my favorites!

August 11, 2011 017

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Remember though – your plate should be a rainbow! If that means serving up some vegetables with those grains, by all means, do it!

For more “Back to the Basics” posts, you can read the following:

Question: What is your favorite grain and how do you use it in your recipes?

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