Whole Grains are cereal grains, comprising of three parts- the germ, the endosperm and the bran. These three parts are present in a raw grain, whereas a refined whole grain contains just the endosperm. In this process of refining, most of the bran and the germ is removed and thus results in the loss of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, phytoestrogens, phenolic compounds, lignin and phytic acid.
Raw Vs. Refined
As, we have discovered above, about the loss of some vital natural contents of the whole grain on refining, it would be wiser of us, to consume unprocessed grains rather than the refined ones. This will help us retain the nutritional value of the grain, which has a myriad of health benefits.
Why are we stressing on the retention of these components of a grain? Of course, because they are beneficial for our bodies. What benefits do they provide? The answer is that they keep us healthy and you will be shocked to learn about the risks that can be reduced and avoided. Have a look, below.
The Foes That Can Be Repelled
These grains do not only help in maintaining a proper body weight and keeping us fit but also in reducing the risk of the following chronic diseases:-
- Type 2 diabetes
- Gall Bladder diseases
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Respiratory dysfunction
- Various Cancers
- Premature death
If you are a health conscious person and have been reading the information properly, by now, we are sure that you must have planned to include more of unprocessed whole grains in your diet .To aid to this; we are providing you with some rational methods of consumption, provided by the USDA and HHS.
Ways To Increase The Intake Of Pure Whole Grain
There are some important points to keep a check on, if you want to reap the maximum benefits out of a whole grain. Check them:-
- The refined grain choices in breads, crackers, breakfast cereals, rice and pasta, must be substituted with the whole grain ones. For instance, choose 100% whole grain breads, crackers and pasta. Opt for oatmeal, which is a 100% whole grain cereal and love brown rice as it is not milled and polished and thus, is in original form.
- In order to check the reliability of a product, look for the words, WHOLE or WHOLE GRAINS, mentioned on the labels of the product. The following must be avoided, as they may not have 100% whole grain:-
- Stone ground
- Multi grain
- Cracked wheat
- 100% wheat
- Seven grain
- The label of nutritional facts and the list of ingredients, mentioned on the product’s cover should be looked for the dietary fiber source. The good fiber source differs from the excellent fiber source, in terms of the percentage value, per serving. The good sources contain 10 to 19 % whereas the excellent sources contain something around 20%.
Ways To Decrease The Intake Of Refined Grain
Although, refined grains are better in taste, the nutrient content is higher, when the grain is unrefined. Hence, we have for you, certain points to be scanned:-
- Avoid the products that are composed of refined grain. Especially the ones which have added sugars or solid fats and are very high in calories, for e.g. pizzas, cookies, cakes and several desserts.
- Replace muffins, pasta, rolls, white bread and white rice with the nutritious whole grain types.
- Make sure that the refined grain product, that you are choosing, is made up of enriched flour. Keep a keen eye on the ingredients list and the label on the product package.
Although, by adhering to the aforementioned points, you will surely be able to choose a 100% whole grain product, there are some intrinsic attributes that can help you get the purest, especially, if you are on your way of becoming a chef. Hence, read further.
The identification of a whole grain by its colour, is a very difficult task nowadays, especially when we have dyed, refined bread products in market. The refined grain products are colored in a way so as to make them look healthier and hence can deceive your eyes. So, it’s better to look for the texture. According to the U.S. FDA-Food and Drug Administration look for these three things:-
- Cracked grain kernel
- Crushed grain kernel
- Flaked grain kernel
Any of these features, contain a significant proportion of the original grain, enough for it to be identified as a WHOLE GRAIN.
The labeling of the whole grain food products is done in a way such that 51% of the ingredients are low in fat and are whole grains. Mentioned below is a list of the names of the whole grains to be looked for, in a 100% whole grain product:-
- Bulgur, which is also called as cracked wheat
- Oats, rolled
- Flaked oats
- Groats oats
- Steel cut oats
- Wild rice
- Brown rice
- Triticale, also known as rye wheat cross
Cooking Whole Grain
So, by now, we have travelled a comprehensive whole grain store and we cannot help but appreciate the numerous benefits it imparts to the consumers. But, how to consume it? Yes, you can get readymade whole grain products but if you love cooking and want some help in the techniques to know for home cooking, your search ends here. Just scroll down the page and you will agree. Coax out, variety of flavors by using variety of methods, mentioned below:-
- To Simmer
This is the most commonly used method of cooking whole grains. It is exactly similar to the way you cook rice i.e. the ABSORPTION METHOD. You need a stovetop and a pot with tight lid.
The water or any liquid that you are about to use, must be poured into the pot, kept on the stove and should be brought to a boil. Pour your grains now, keeping in mind, and the liquid-to-grain ratio which should be apt to allow the absorption of the liquid into the grain particles. Reduce the heat after one more boil, cover the pot and let it be until a soft and chewy texture is formed. In case, you want it creamier (porridge and polenta), more liquid can be added or the grains can be allowed to set, before serving.
Brown rice or large grains such as oat Groats or rye berries will appear fluffy and firm.
- To Boil
This method of preparation is also called as the PASTA METHOD as the technique is similar to that of pasta boiling. This again is a very common method. You again, need a pot for this.
Just add the grains in a pot full of cold water and cook for around 15-20 minutes. The cooked grains are then drained and rinsed thoroughly with cold water in order to maintain the texture. This method is particularly useful if you are unfamiliar with the cooking method of a particular grain as the doneness can be checked and also you do not have to worry about the amount of the liquid, poured.
The grains, such as barley, buckwheat, quinoa and wheat berried can be boiled into stews and soups.
- To Bake
As we know that the whole grains can also be used to make cookies, cakes, muffins, pies and lots of other nutritious treats, the method involved is BAKING. A microwave oven is the best for this type of cooking.
The most important point to remember here is to read the appliance instructions carefully. Power settings need to be adjusted and stirring may be required, in between the baking process. Also, if you are a novice, you need to take care and follow the recipes carefully. The extent of rise will depend on many factors of which the gluten amount of the grain is the most significant.
- To Steam
This is believed to be the most easy and convenient way to cook any type of whole grain. Usually, soaked grains prove to be the best for this method. A bamboo steamer, rice cooker or a steamer pan is used for the same. These appliances come with a nice, detailed instruction book. One needs to follow the cooking times and the measurements mentioned for different recipes.
The absorption method also, benefits, mostly from an ultimate 5-10 minutes of steam. You just need to remove the pot from the stove and cover properly.
- To Pressurize
This method, demands the use a good pressure cooker. The cookers of this kind, works excellent with whole grains. It is a very time saving method as because; the pressure cookers typically take half the regular time. But, one needs to have some pre hand knowledge, before using this equipment. There are two ways to use a pressure cooker for cooking whole grains- DIRECT cooking method and PIP cooking method.
In case, you are cooking directly, make sure not to fill the liquid by more than half. But in PIP cooking method you need to remember the following steps:-
- Add water and a rack to your cooker.
- Add the grain and pour some liquid in a pan, which can easily fit inside the cooker
- Set the pan properly on the rack, inside the cooker and cook.
Also, the PIP ccoking method for cooking in a pressure cooker is considered the best in order to avoid any scorching.
- To Pop
This is a very quick way of making a healthy snack from the whole grain. Teff, quinoa and amaranth are some whole grains which are best to be popped. We need a dry pan with a lid for this.
Put the grains to be popped, in a pre-heated pan. Cover the lid properly. The pan must be frequently shaken until, unless, we get a popping sound. You can top up the popped grains with salt, pepper or even with some herbs. For a more decadent treat, honey or flavored syrup can be added.
- To Soak
It has been observed that soaking the grains helps in increasing the nutritional value of the grain. Also, it converts the grain into a form which is easy to digest. Another advantage of soaking is that it makes the texture softer and hence, reduces the cooking time by around 10 minutes.
The large, chewy grains must be soaked 30 minutes to overnight, prior to cooking, whereas, smaller grains must be soaked to get a consistency of a porridge.
- To Toast
This type of cooking a whole grain is the most suitable for the grains such as millet, quinoa and buckwheat. Toasting ensures the retention of the original nature and qualities of the grain. Also, you should use the best electric skillet for better results.
For toasting, put your skillet on medium heat and cook the grains for 3 to 5 minutes. It should be stirred and shaken frequently, to get a nutty flavor. Also, it must be ensured to get a colour, which is not too brown or you will end up ruining the taste and making it bitter. At last, boil the toasted, hard coated grains in water.
Note- Make sure to put it in already heated water or you will get trapped in a mushy affair.
Versatile? Isn’t it? With so many different methods of using your whole grain, it is quite interesting to make several preparations. Not only the basic methods, but these can also be customized in creative ways to make them more delicious. There are several different recipes, out of which, we are presenting some mouth watering and easy to make dishes, for your perusal.
Pasta – Whole Wheat With Arugula, Herbs And Edamame
Time required-36 minutes
Yield- 4 servings
Serving size– 1 and 3/4 cups pasta mixture with 1/2 ounce of cheese
- Raw whole wheat penne (tube shaped pasta)- 8 ounces
- Olive oil- 2 tablespoons
- Butter- 1 tablespoon
- Frozen edamame aka shelled green soybeans- 2 cups, thawed
- Baby arugula- 2 cups, loosely packed
- Grape tomatoes(halved)- 1 cup
- Flat leaf parsley ( fresh)- 1/4 cups, chopped
- Lemon juice(fresh)- 1/4 cups
- Chopped Basil (fresh)- 3 tablespoons
- Chopped thyme (fresh)- 1 tablespoon
- Kosher salt- 1/2 teaspoon
- Parmiggiano- Reggiano cheese-2 ounces(shaved)
- Cook pasta, according to the directions on the package.
- Omit fat and salt.
- Drain properly.
- Take a large skillet and put it over medium heat.
- Heat butter and oil in the skillet.
- Add edamame and cook for 2 minutes with occasional stirrings.
- Mix the pasta and the edamame in a large utensil.
- Put in the arugula and the rest 6 ingredients and toss well.
- Serve with cheese.
Tofu Maki And Brown Rice
Time Required-2 hours
Servings- 6 pieces each, 8 servings
- Water-4 1/4 cups
- Short grain brown rice-2 1/4 cups
- Mirin-3 tablespoons
- Soy sauce- 3 tablespoons
- Sugar-3 1/2 teaspoons
- Rice vinegar-1/3 cup
- Salt- 1/2 teaspoon
- Nori seaweeds- 8 sheets
- Baked tofu- 32 strips
- Bell Pepper- 32 matchstick strips
- Cucumber-32 pieces
- Peanuts-5 tablespoons
- Take a saucepan.
- Keep it on a medium flame.
- Pour water and bring it to a boil.
- Put in rice inside, reduce it to low flame.
- Cover the pan and simmer for around 50 minutes or until you get a tender rice texture.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it be for 10 minutes.
- Stir 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of sugar, minin and soy sauce. Ensure that you use the best broiler pan. Simmer and cook for around 3 minutes and thicken it.
- Spread the prepared rice evenly on a large sized baking sheet.
- Whisk vinegar, salt and 2 teaspoons of sugar in a bowl.
- Drizzle this mixture on the warm rice.
- Toss the rice with the help of spatulas. Make sure to cool it down and see for a sticky texture.
- The nori sheet now is to be placed on a bamboo mat, specially designed for making sushi and quot it. The shiny side must be down sided and the shorter end must be close to you.
- Wet the hands and pat around 3/4 cups of the rice (seasoned) on the sheet, making a thin layer of it.
- Leave 1 inch margin at the top side of the sheet.
- 1 teaspoon minin sauce to be poured at around 1 inch from the bottom side of the rice.
- 4 strip each of bell pepper, cucumber and baked tofu to be placed on the sauce.
- Chopped peanuts (2 teaspoons) to be sprinkled.
- With the help of the bamboo mat, roll and close the maki, carefully taking the mat out as you see the maki rolling up.
- Tenderly, press the mat, in order to seal the roll properly.
- Ensure, trimming of rough or ragged corners and edges and cut into 6 pieces with help of a sharp knife.
- The rolls are now ready to be served with a sauce.
Barley Salad With Pea-Sugar Snap
Time Required-30 minutes
Servings-6 servings (2/3 cups each)
- Water- 2 cups
- Barley (quick cooking)- 1 cup
- Peas( sugar snap) – 8 ounces, trimmed into matchsticks
- Parsley( flat leaf)- 1/2 cup fresh and chopped
- Red onion-1/4 cups, chopped finely
- Olive oil-( extra virgin)- 2 tablespoons
- Lemon juice- 2 tablespoons
- Salt- 3/4 teaspoon
- Ground pepper- 1/4 teaspoon
- Take a medium sized saucepan.
- Pour water and boil it properly.
- Add the barley grains, cover the lid and cook for around 10 to 12 minutes.
- After removing from heat, keep it intact and covered for around 5 minutes.
- The cooked barley is then to be rinsed in cool water.
- Transfer it to a large bowl.
- Finally, add, onion, oil, lemon juice, snap peas, parsley, pepper and salt and combine in a proper way and it is ready to be hogged on.
Shrimp Rice Pilaf
Time required– 30 minutes
Servings– 4 (1 1/4 cups each)
- Olive oil- 1 teaspoon and I tablespoon (divided)
- Chopped shallots- 1/3 cup
- Chopped prosciutto- 1/4 cup
- Egg noodles- 3/4 cup
- Brown rice(instant)-3/4 cup
- White wine (dry)- ¼ cup
- Edamame or lima beans (baby)- 1 cup (frozen)
- Reduced sodium chicken broth-1 1/2 cups
- Raw shrimp- 1 pound (peeled)
- Lemon juice- 2 tablespoons
- Fresh dill- 1 tablespoon
- Ground pepper for taste
- Take a big sized skillet.
- Put it over medium flame and heat oil (1 tablespoon).
- Add the prosciuttos and shallots and cook by stirring frequently and for around 2 minutes.
- Check for the shallots, to turn translucent.
- The rice and the noodles are to be added now, again, with frequent stirrings, for about 3 minutes.
- Check for the colour of the noodles, i.e. cook until brown.
- Wine comes in this step and is cooked, for around one minute and is evaporated.
- Add broth and lima beans and boil thoroughly.
- Reduce the heat and let it stand for around 10 minutes.
- Now, take a medium sized bowl and toss the shrimp with lemon juice and oil.
- The shrimp is to be scattered on the pilaf and spread evenly. Drizzle some lemon juice on the shrimp and continue to cook after covering, for around 5 more minutes.
- Check for the shrimp to turn firm and pink.
- Finally remove and let it stand, covered for around 3 minutes.
- Stir dill in and finally use pepper for seasoning and serve.
With a plethora of health benefits and so many different recipes, calming yourself with cooking is just a step ahead. This calmness is credited to the mental satisfaction of consuming this nutritious, wholesome grain.