You know you should eat more whole grains. But actually doing it? That’s another story. Even if you start out the day strong with a breakfast of whole grain cereal or toast, racking up grains as the day goes on can seem like a major challenge – especially at dinnertime. I mean, who wants to wait 45 minutes for a pot of brown rice to simmer when you’re in a massive hurry to get dinner on the table?
That’s why I was so excited to attend the Oldways Whole Grains Council’s “Whole Grains Away From Home” conference last week. For two days I learned about all kinds of new, inspiring – and yummy – ways to cook with whole grains. And as it turns out, getting your daily dose is easier – and faster – than you think! There are plenty of whole grains that you can whip up in 20 minutes flat (or less!). Plus, they freeze surprisingly well. So cook up a big potful and freeze the extras in little baggies or single-serve containers. Then you’ll always have a stash on hand to toss into soup, salad, or yogurt parfaits.
If you’re intrigued but always thought that whole grains take forever to cook, give these quick cooking grains a try. They’ll have you in and out of the kitchen in less time than it takes to whip up a pot of white rice, with way more flavor:
Try it in place of cornmeal in polenta and top it with sautéed cremini mushrooms and sage. Yum!
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes.
Grain to water ratio: 1 cup amaranth to 2 cups liquid (gives you 2 ½ cups cooked).
This pre-cooked, cracked wheat could be the world’s quickest cooking grain. Make a better-for-you burger by subbing in cooked bulgur wheat for ¼ of the meat you’d normally use.
Cooking time: 10-12 minutes.
Grain to water ratio: 1 cup bulgur to 2 cups liquid (gives you 3 cups cooked).
Freekeh can be a little harder to find in stores (I order mine from Amazon), but it’s so worth tracking down. You’ll love its chewy texture, which makes it perfect for salads. Try it in a baby kale or baby spinach salad with tart dried cherries, pinenuts and balsamic vinaigrette.
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes.
Grain to water ratio: 1 cup cracked freekeh to 2-1/2 cups liquid (gives you 2-1/2 cups cooked).
Quinoa is one of a small handful of plant foods that contains complete protein, the kind of high-quality protein that you can usually only get from meat, poultry, fish or dairy. My favorite way to make it is by swapping in OJ for half the water – so citrusy and delicious!
Cooking time: 15 minutes.
Grain to water ratio: 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid (gives you 3 cups cooked).