I love whole grains and we eat a lot of them, usually mixed together. Wherever I used to prepare white rice or couscous I now substitute some sort of mix of whole grains. I do this for the health benefits, of course, but also because I've come to prefer the more complex textures and flavors.
So what are the health benefits, anyway? Whole grains are good for you because they still have their outer covering, which is rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They're also low in fat and a good sources of protein.
Eating whole grains, instead of processed grains, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and many types of cancer. They may also help regulate blood glucose in people living with diabetes. Other studies have also shown that people who consume more whole grains consistently weigh less than those who consumed less whole grain products.
I always make more than I need because I like them so much for lunch (or even breakfast!) the next day. The grains in the photo above are a mix of brown rice, millet, diced hot peppers, onion, garlic, dried cranberries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds with a melange of spices (I was making a vegetable curry to go with it). I don't follow any set recipe anymore, but adapt some basic principles to whatever I happen to be cooking for dinner.
The recipe changes each time I prepare it, but here are some basics that make it foolproof:
1) Combine grains with similar cooking times. If you try to combine quinoa with hulled barley you'll either have overcooked quinoa or tooth-breakingly al dente barley! Grains with similar cooking times are:
Brown rice, wild rice, pearl barley and millet Amaranth, quinoa and cracked wheat Hulled barley, farro (or spelt), rye berries and wheat berries
2) Saute whatever vegetables, fruits and spices you're using in a little oil and then add the grains, stirring them until they're well coated, before adding water or whatever cooking liquid you've decided to use.
3) Check for the recommended amount of cooking liquid for each grain you're using. Brown rice requires 2 cups of liquid for every cup of rice, as does millet. So if you're cooking a half cup of brown rice with a half cup of millet you will need a total of two cups of liquid.
4) Add seeds, nuts and/or dried fruit to your mix for extra flavor, crunch and protein! I like to toss in some sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I usually add a little more cooking liquid to allow for the liquid absorption the additions will require.
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