Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Great Grains

I have been experimenting with some different carb sources for my go-to meal combo of protein + grain + non-starchy veggie + fat.

This week I hit a home run with pearl barley. It was well worth the effort to pre-soak, boil, and simmer because I really like the heft of the grain and its slightly nutty crunch. I combined it with some roasted asparagus, ground turkey, and Bragg's Aminos (no added fat).  YUM. Very satisfying!

Last week I picked up some sprouted green lentils. No, they are not grains, they are technically legumes which explains their higher protein content.  But I use them in the same way and I was curious to see how they stacked up against the grains (see spreadsheet below). They mixed in to various dishes better than I expected with a mild taste and no pastiness.

Quinoa is a nice dry, fluffy, nutty little grain.  I cook up a combo of red and traditional quinoa and it adds some color and variety.  Cooked, it stores well in the refrigerator for days and days.

I don't use corn meal too often but a quick dish I make that the kids enjoy is simply diced chicken, corn meal, mixed veggies, and cajun seasoning.  Add water and microwave!  It's the healthy alternative to pot pies.

From what I can tell, buckwheat cooks up kind of mushy no matter what you do and it doesn't hold its shape the way a quinoa or barley does. It's not such a great mix-in, but it's a welcome change-up for my traditional steel-cut oats breakfast. Add banana, walnuts, and cinnamon and start the day off right!

Ezekiel Sprouted Cereal is great when I crave something crunchy any time of day.  I've mixed it with chicken and diced sweet potato, into greek yogurt with some fruit, or combined with apple slices and peanut butter.

I'm not a huge amaranth fan but maybe I just haven't mastered the art of cooking it.  It's very dense and I believe was the inspiration for wall paper paste.

Brown rice is still part of my diet now and again, but it's much lower in fiber than other options.

One of the tricky things is that nutritional info is given in terms of the dry, uncooked amounts.  So I'll cook up multiples of a cup and roughly divide the cooked product up into the right number of servings.

Please comment if you have other favorite grains!