May 26, 2009

Healthy, Whole Food Grains

Whole grains should be a staple of any healthy, nutritious meal. Because of their increased fiber content, one benefit to whole grains is that they make a meal feel more filling so you stay full for longer. This is especially helpful to those of us trying to shed some extra winter weight. Many grains also come with increased vitamin and mineral content.

Some of my favorites include quinoa, barley, millet, oatmeal and wild rice. I typically purchase my grains bulk at Whole Foods as that is the least expensive option, but sometimes will resort to packaged grains if the bulk version is unavailable. I love how simple grains are to cook. Basically you put the grain in a pan with water and simmer. Its also great to cook extra for leftover or to add to another dish, such as soup or stir-fry.

Quinoa (pronounce Keen-wah) is my new favorite dinner grain, although technically quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like Kale and Swiss chard. I usually just add some garlic and olive oil and have a quick and super nutricious side dish or meal base. Of course, there are tons of quinoa recipes out there. You can add veggies, herbs, nuts or fruit for breakfast. Pasta made from quinoa is also very delicious and available at most health food stores.

My new favorite quinoa dish was found on Vegan Yum Yum (Sweet Chili Lime Tofu w/ Wok Steamed Collards and Quinoa). I typically replace the collard greens with kale or asparagus, but even the quinoa from this recipe on its own is so delicious. I made the mistake of substituting ground cinnamon for the cinnamon stick. If you are going to do this, add the cinnamon when the dish is done, or better yet, just leave the cinnamon out.

The World's Healthiest Foods website has some great nutritional info on quinoa and all types of grains.

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