I’m on a small mission to try alternative grains. I mean, enough already with the white rice, corn, and rolled oats. I want VARIETY!
Flavor: Slightly sweet, malty, nutty
Texture: Porridge-like, or airy-crunchy if popped
Uses: Breakfast cereal, popped, soup/stew addition
Nutrition: Complete protein; high in fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, squalene
Rinse in a sieve and shake to drain. Place 1 cup amaranth and 3 cups water or fruit juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Watch closely—don’t let it overcook. Serve immediately with fruit, nuts, cinnamon, nut milk. (Yield: 3 cups cooked.)
POPPED—In a hot, dry skillet, toast amaranth seeds one tablespoon at a time, shaking constantly until the seeds pop. Use as a snack, or as a topping for salads, soups, and stews.
PILAF—Rinse in a sieve and shake to drain. Add to other grains, using a ratio of 1/4 cup amaranth to 3/4 cup other grain.
THICKEN SOUPS & STEWS—Use a couple of tablespoons while the soup is cooking.
BARLEY, HULLED (Gluten-free)
Flavor: Mild and nutty
Texture: Thick and chewy
Uses: Pilaf, grain salads, Buddha Bowls *
Nutrition: Fiber, selenium, manganese, phosphorus
PILAF: Ratio 3:1
Rinse in a sieve and shake to drain. Combine 3 cups water or broth and 1 cup hulled barley (not pearl barley, which is not a whole grain). Bring to a boil, watching out for frothing, which can boil over. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and continue to cook for 40 minutes. Check doneness. The barley is done when it has tripled in volume and is soft yet chewy. Add more water if pan becomes dry—check every 5 minutes. Let the barley to sit for 10 minutes, covered, then fluff with a fork and serve.
BUCKWHEAT GROATS (Gluten-free. Not a wheat, an herb.)
Flavor: Intense, roasty, nutty, like hoppy beer
Texture: Thick and chewy
Uses: Porridge, cold grain salads, croquettes
Nutrition: Manganese, copper, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus
Rinse in a sieve and shake to drain. Soak 1 cup whole buckwheat groats in water overnight. In the morning, rinse, then drain, the groats. Place in a medium-sized saucepan and dry-cook for a couple of minutes, stirring until toasty-smelling. Add half a cinnamon stick, pinch of sea salt, and 2-1/2 cups almond milk. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer until almost all the liquid has been absorbed, but the consistency is still loose. To serve, add a bit of sweetness (raw honey, blackstrap molasses, maple syrup) or perhaps some dried fruit and more almond milk.
As above, but leave out the cinnamon and substitute water or stock for the almond milk.
KAMUT (Contains gluten, though some with sensitivities can tolerate.)
Flavor: Nutty, buttery
Texture: Slightly chewy
Uses: Side dish, grain salads, Buddha Bowls *
Nutrition: Protein, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, pantothenic acid, copper, fat
Rinse in a sieve and shake to drain. Soak 1 cup of kamut in 3 cups of water overnight. The next day, drain the kamut, and bring 3 cups of water or broth to a boil. Add the soaked kamut, and reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes. (Yields 3 cups cooked)
Flavor: Delicate, mildly corn-like. Toasted in a skillet before cooking enhances nuttiness.
Texture: Fluffy and light or creamy and polenta-like, depending on cooking method
Uses: Porridge, side dish, Buddha Bowls *
Nutrition: Protein, fiber, iron, B vitamins, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium
PORRIDGE—(creamy, polenta-like)—Ratio 3:1
Rinse and drain 3 cups millet. Bring 1 cup nut milk, 1/4 cup raw honey, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and millet to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit—uncovered—for 20 minutes. Serve with fruit, nuts, and nut milk.(Yield: 3 cups cooked)
“MASHED POTATO” MILLET—Ratio 3.5:1
Rinse in a sieve and shake to drain. Simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes to and hour.
PILAF—(fluffy, light)—Ratio 2:1
Rinse and drain 1 cup millet. Bring 2 cups liquid and millet to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit—uncovered—for 20 minutes. Toss with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and herbs. (Yield: 3 cups cooked)
LEFTOVERS—Add to salads, stir-fry with protein and vegetables, make croquettes from sliced, cooled porridge.
THICKEN SOUPS—Add a few tablespoons to the cooking soup.
OATS, STEEL-CUT (Gluten-free)
Flavor: Mild, nutty, slightly sweet
Nutrition: Protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron, antioxidants, B vitamins, potassium.
PORRIDGE: Ratio 3:1
Rinse in a sieve and shake to drain. Bring 1-1/2 cups water to a boil then add 1/2 a cup steel cut oats. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook 10 – 20 minutes (depending on how chewy you like your cereal). Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand covered for a couple of minutes. (Yields about 3 cups)
Flavor: Mild, a cross between brown rice and oatmeal
Texture: Slightly crunchy
Uses: Grain salads, tabbouleh, Buddha Bowls *
Nutrition: Complete protein, with all nine essential amino acids
PILAF: Ratio 1:1
Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve until water runs clear, drain and transfer to a medium pot. Add 1 cup water, a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside off the heat for 5 minutes; uncover and fluff with a fork.
RICE, BROWN (Gluten-free)
(Also try black rice and green bamboo rice)
Uses: Pilaf, grain salads, Buddha Bowls*
Nutrition: Protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, folate, potassium, calcium
MEDIUM- OR LONG-GRAIN—Ratio 2:1
Rinse in a sieve and shake to drain. Toast the rice in a bit of oil until fragrant. Combine 2 cups water to 1 cup rice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 45 minutes. Do not uncover the pot. Rest off the heat—covered—for 10 minutes. Fluff and serve.
SHORT GRAIN—Ratio 2:1
Rinse in a sieve and shake to drain. Combine 2 cups water,and 1 cup rice in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce heat to low-simmer, and cook 45 minutes. Remove from heat (with lid on) and steam for 10 minutes.
Flavor: Mild, nutty
Texture: Hearty, chewy
Uses: Pilafs, popped, grain salads Buddha Bowls *
Nutrition: Protein, fiber, antioxidants
PILAF: Ratio: 3:1
Rinse, drain and pick through the sorghum. Combine 3 cups water or stock and 1 cup Sorghum in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer until tender, about 50 – 60 minutes. Drain any excess water. (Yield 3.5 cups cooked)
SPELT (Contains gluten. Spelt is a type of ancient wheat)
(aka Farro, Eikhorn, Emmer)
Flavor: Sweet, nutty, a bit like barley
Texture: Chewy, fluffy, distinct grains
Uses: Risotto, grain salads, curry accompaniment, Buddha Bowls *
Nutrition: Protein, fiber, zinc, magnesium, vitamin B
SOFT PILAF—Ratio 3:1
Rinse in a sieve and shake to drain. Cover and simmer 3 cups of water to 1 cup of spelt for 1-1/2 hours.
CHEWY RISOTTO—Ratio 2:1
Rinse in a sieve and shake to drain. Bring 2 cups of liquid to boil. Add a half cup spelt. Stir for a minute. Add another 1/2 cup spelt. Repeat process until the liquid has evaporated, about 30-40 minutes.
TEFF (Gluten-free grass seed that’s cooked like a grain)
Flavor: Mild, nutty
Uses: Porridge, pilaf, grain salads, added to stews, Buddha Bowls *
Nutrition: Protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin B6, amino acids, zinc, iron, magnesium
PORRIDGE: Ratio: 4:1
Rinse in a sieve and shake to drain. Add 1/2-cup Teff Grain to 2 cups boiling water or stock. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 – 20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Stir occasionally. Serve with honey, raisins, nuts, fruit, and cinnamon. (Yields 2.5 cups cooked)
WILD RICE (Gluten-free grass seed that’s cooked like a grain)
Flavor: Nutty, earthy
Uses: In pilafs with other grains, added to soups, casseroles, stuffings
Nutrition: Low fat, high protein, lysine, fiber
PILAF: Ratio: 4:1
Rinse in a sieve and shake to drain. Place 1 cup rinsed wild rice in a saucepan with 4 cups of water or broth and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a steady simmer and cover. Cook for 45 minutes. Uncover and check for chewy texture and some burst grains. If needed, cook for an additional 10—15 minutes. Drain in a strainer, then fluff with a fork and serve.
* Buddha Bowls are filled with a combination of grains, legumes, leafy greens, and vegetables, with additions of nuts, seeds, herbs, and fragrant dressings.