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Cooking Power-Packed Whole Grains

Cooking Power-Packed Whole Grains

Whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet, providing the complex carbohydrates that our bodies prefer as their main source of energy, as well as fiber and an assortment of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. Unlike processed grain products like white rice and white bread, whole grains actually help to control our weight by making us feel full longer. Yet, many people don’t know how to cook whole grains and are intimidated by the process.

Here’s the good news: There are some easy ways to add whole grains to your diet, and most are very simple to cook.

Whole Grain Cooking Chart

The following chart of cooking techniques is from the Whole Grains Council. Note: Rinse grains before cooking. The grains will roughly triple in volume once cooked.

For the stove top, simply put the dry grain in a stock pot or saucepan with water or vegetable broth amounts listed below. Bring it to a boil, then simmer until the liquid is absorbed.

To 1 cup of this grain:

Add this much water or broth:

Bring to a boil, then simmer for:

Amount after cooking:

1 c. Amaranth

2 cups liquid

15-20 minutes

2 ½ cups

1 c. Barley, hulled

3 cups liquid

45-60 minutes

3 ½ cups

1 c. Buckwheat

2 cups liquid

20 minutes

4 cups

1 c. Bulgur

2 cups liquid

10-12 minutes

3 cups

1 c. Cornmeal (polenta)

4 cups liquid

25-30 minutes

2 ½ cups

1 c. Farro

2 ½ cups liquid

25-40 minutes

3 cups

1 c. Kamut® wheat

4 cups liquid

soak overnight then cook 45-60 minutes

3 cups

1 c. Millet, hulled

2 ½ cups liquid

25-35 minutes

4 cups

1 c. Oats, steel cut

4 cups liquid

30 minutes

3 cups

1 c. Pasta, whole wheat

6 cups or more liquid

8-12 minutes (varies by size)

varies

1 c. Quinoa

2 cups liquid

12-15 minutes

3 cups

1 c. Rice, brown

2 ½ cups liquid

25-45 minutes (varies)

3 cups

1 c. Rye

4 cups liquid

soak overnight then cook 45-60 minutes

3 cups

1 c. Sorghum

4 cups liquid

25-40 minutes

3 cups

1 c. Spelt berries

4 cups liquid

soak overnight then cook 45-60 minutes

3 cups

1 c. Teff

3 cups liquid

20 minutes

2 ½ cups

1 c. Wheat berries

4 cups liquid

soak overnight then cook 45-60 minutes

2 ½ cups

1 c. Wild rice

3 cups liquid

45-55 minutes

3 ½ cups

Cooking Times Can Vary

Grains vary in cooking times. Some of the variables depend on the age of the grain, the variety, and the pan being used for cooking. If the grain is not as tender as you like when the cooking time is up, simply add more water and continue cooking.

One the other hand, if it is tender and everything looks good before the liquid is all absorbed, simply drain the excess and serve.

Slow Cooker Tips & Recipes

Most whole grains will cook perfectly in a slow cooker. Add 4 cups water or broth per 1 cup of whole grains. Cook on the lowest setting for about 8 hours.

Try these additional slow cooker tips:

1. Add a half cup (or more) of your grain of choice to slow cooker stew and soup recipes.

2. Make a batch of grain and then freeze leftovers to have them on hand and ready to toss into a salad or other dish.

My favorite slow cooker recipes:

  1. Hearty Barley Vegetable Soup
  2. Three Bean Bulgur Chili

Bulgur is one of my favorite grains to cook with a slow cooker. I like to make a big batch of bulgur and use in recipes like tacos and spaghetti, because it adds a ground beef texture and soaks up the flavors of the dish you are preparing.

In a Hurry? Try These Quick Cooking Tips

  • Grains can be cooked more quickly by letting them sit in the allotted amount of water or broth for a few hours before cooking. You will find that cooking time is much shorter with a little pre-soaking.
  • Whole grains can also be cooked in big batches. They keep 3-4 days in the refrigerator and take only minutes to warm up with a little added water or broth.
  • The leftovers can be used for cold grain salads like Quinoa Chickpea Orange Miso Salad, or just toss a few handfuls into some soup.
  • Whole grains can be used as an alternative to white rice or pasta in salads, stuffing, and casseroles.
  • Since grains provide a healthy boost of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients, get creative in adding them to many of your favorite recipes!

Try These Great Grain Recipes:

Copyright 2019 Center for Nutrition Studies. All rights reserved.

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