How often do you eat plain old rice (white or brown) with that piece of fish or chicken to have a healthy meal? If you’re like most people, it’s probably pretty often.
Well, I’m here to tell you to stop eating so much rice (especially the white variety). There are a world of grains out there, and while they are extremely popular in other cultures, here in the USA, we are just starting to pick up on the trend of whole grains for health and variety.
There are many, many options, such as bulgur, farro, and millet. They’re all pretty high in fiber and nutrients, although all of them have their own nutritional properties. While some take a while to cook, they’re as easy to cook as rice, and if you have a rice cooker, you can even cook them in that.
You can use them pretty much anywhere you can use rice. Most grains have a fairly neutral flavor, and they all have a texture that makes them unique. You can use them as stuffing, in soups, stews and salads. They are great as side dishes, to which you can add almost anything you want: Herbs, spices, nuts or even dried fruit.
To get maximum benefits from your grains, follow these tips:
Choose whole grains as opposed to instant or quick cooking varieties. They take a little longer to cook, but provide more nutrients.
Buy in bulk if you can. You can buy only as many as you need, and they are usually much cheaper since you’re not paying for excess packaging that you don’t need.
Whole grains contain the bran and germ of the grain and therefore have a higher fat content than processed varieties, so they can go rancid quickly. Buy only the amount you’ll use quickly and store them in the freezer for a longer shelf life. If they start to smell bad, throw them out.
Instead of spending an hour at the stove every night, when you cook grains, double or triple the amount of grains needed for the recipe. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge, this way they are ready to go when you need them, no long cooking required. This is especially great for stir fries, cold salads and soups.
Don’t think of grains as just for dinner. One of the most popular breakfast foods also happens to be a whole grain. That’s right, oatmeal. You can eat just about any grain in the same way you would eat oats, with a little milk, sugar and fruit. Be creative.
Grains are versatile, healthy and delicious. Eat a large variety and you won’t get bored, and you’ll be doing yourself a great favor health wise.