Getting Practical: Adding whole grains and making it easy (and yummy).

Preparation tips

  • Some grains take a long time to cook, so make them ahead to use for multiple meals. If making brown rice for a dish, make twice as much and use for salads for lunches (add 1/3 to 1/2 cup on top of a green salad along with some beans to turn your salad into a meal), make into a porridge for breakfast (adding almond or other milk, cinnamon and/or ginger, coconut, nuts and seeds), or use in a stir fry with vegetables and spices for a super quick weeknight dinner later in the week. You can also freeze cooked grains in small bags for use in a pinch when you don’t have much time to get a meal together.
  • Cook grains with vegetable or chicken broth instead of water.
  • Add green chilies to rice when cooking. Or tomatoes. Or onions. Or tomato sauce. Or a combination of all of these. You can also add spices while cooking, such as basil, oregano, and thyme.

Quick Quinoa Salad Recipe

  • In a medium to small saucepan, rinse 1.5 cups quinoa in cool water and drain. Cook over medium heat until the water has evaporated. (Double quinoa, water, and salt amounts if you want to save extra for a future meal(s)).
  • Add 3 cups of water and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed.
  • Fluff with a fork. Let cook, preferably to room temperature.
  • Place quinoa in a large bowl (at this point only add half if you doubled the grain recipe). Add: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lime or lemon juice, 1 cup chopped parsley, 1/2 cup sliced green onions, 1 cup diced tomato, salt and pepper to taste. Combine, and serve chilled or at room temperature.
  • Possible other additions or substitutions: kale instead of parsley or half and half, 1/2 black beans, 1/2 corn, 2 cloves garlic (combine with oil and the citrus juice before adding), 1/4 cup feta, cilantro instead of parsley. Can also substitute other grains for the quinoa such as brown rice, wild rice, or farro.

Steel Cut Oats Recipe 

  • In a large to medium saucepan, cook 1 cup oats according to directions. (I prefer the quick cooking steel cut oats from Bob’s Red Mill – unlike some quick cooking oats and all quick-cooking rice, these oats still maintain the health benefits but are far easier to cook with).
  • Let sit for at least 20 minutes after the recommended cooking time, adding milk or a milk alternative if needed for moisture. While still warm, stir in 2 Tbsp coconut oil.
  • After sitting, break up with a spoon and add milk or a milk alternative to your desired consistency.
  • Add: 3 Tbsp chia seeds, 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed, 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, 1/3 cup cocoa nibs, 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, 2 tsp cinnamon. Stir to combine and serve, or store in small glass containers for easy serving later in the week.
  • All add-ins can be substituted for other ingredients, or deleted altogether. Fruit can be added for sweetener (raisins, for example, or add fresh fruit or frozen berries when eating), other nuts can be added, hemp seeds could be substituted for flax or chia, pumpkins seeds could be added, ginger can be added along with cinnamon. Experiment and find what works for you!

Weekly Challenge: Part one – Choose a new grain to try this week and report back. What did you try and how did you like it? Part two – Are you relying on processed grains such as breads or crackers? If so, think up one way that you can substitute whole grains instead. For example, if you bring sandwiches to work, why not try a salad instead with 1/2 cup brown rice on top, along with nuts, seeds, avocado, maybe beans, maybe meat – etc; experiment to make it an awesome meal. Report back on your substitute. Can you keep it up once a week? Or more?

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