Regular readers know that quinoa is my all-time favorite whole grain. Allow me to count the ways. First, it's much quicker-cooking than other whole grains. Quinoa takes about 15 minutes to cook, while some other grains can take upwards of an hour or more. Second, it's incredibly high in protein with 18 grams per cup, cooked. This makes it perfect for us vegetarians and vegans. And third, I love the taste! It has a chewy, mildly nutty flavor similar to pasta which makes it perfect for soaking up stir-fry sauces or salad dressings. If you haven't already, try this popular whole grain, and see if doesn't just top the list of your favorite whole grains, too!
Next up on the whole grains list is barley. Chewy and nutty, barley may be more widely enjoyed as an ingredient in beer than in it's whole grain state, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a try! Like many whole grains, barley has been shown to be effective in lowering cholesterol, particularly in men, and in as little as five weeks. If you're looking to eat more whole grains to reduce your cholesterol, barley may be the best one to try. It'll really stick to your ribs and fill you up, too. Toasted barley is often used as a coffee substitute, but I like my barley in soup with plenty of mushrooms. Learn more about barley and try a few barley recipes here.
Although everyone's probably heard of whole wheat bread and whole wheat products, very few people have ever actually eaten wheatberries - which is whole kernel wheat grains. They take quite a bit of time to cook, but they're high in fiber and well worth the effort if you've got time to simmer them stovetop for a while. Try adding a handful to a favorite soup or chili recipe, in order to add extra fiber and nutrition, or pair it with a stir-fry as you would with rice.
5. Bulgur wheat
Another type of whole grain is bulgur wheat. Most people have heard of bulgur wheat, since it's the main ingredient in a traditional Middle Eastern tabouli salad, but for most of us, that's probably the onyl way we've ever tried it. But why stop at just tabouli? Bulgur wheat is incredibly high in heart-healthy fiber, and instant bulgur, also called fine-grain bulgur, cooks in just five minutes flat. There's no excuse not to give this whole grain a try! Bulgur works great in pilafs and salads. Use it instead of rice in a rice salad or rice pilaf recipe, and you'll probably never go back to plain white rice again.
If you like cooking with whole grains, try using millet! Although it may be most widely used a birdseed, millet is a whole grain that can be used like rice in vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes. Learn more and try out a few whole grain millet recipes.
Buckwheat is not technically a whole grain, but it's used much like other grains, and is just as healthy. It's actually a healthy high-protein gluten-free seed. Because it's gluten-free, buckwheat is often used instead of barley to make gluten-free beer. If you've ever had Japanese soba noodles, you've probably had buckwheat, since these noodles are usually made from buckwheat flour. The health benefits of including buckwheat in your diet are well documented - it's been shown to strengthen capillary walls, relieve some symptoms of Type 2 diabetes and even high blood pressure. Convinced? Learn more about buckwheat and try a few buckwheat recipes here.