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Friday, January 20, 2006 

Don't let boredom win against the grain

A new grain, or new recipes with grains you're tired of, will have you eating healthy again.
We'll stick with our theme this week which has been Whole Grains/Superfoods.
When the USDA updated its Dietary Guidelines in 2005, it urged Americans to consume at least three 1-ounce servings of whole grains each day. So healthy eaters stocked up on oatmeal and whole-wheat bread.

To liven up those virtuous but boring oats at breakfast, they sprinkled on cinnamon and added bits of dried fruit. For lunch they stuck lean cold cuts between two slices of good-for-you bread.

But it's been 12 months, and some of us can't stomach another spoonful. We crave variety in our whole grains, and some fresh, easy recipes.

So good tips throughout the article about preparing these whole grains. Here are a few:

If you're buying a manufactured product, such as bread, check the ingredients. The first should be "whole wheat" or another whole grain. Look for bread with at least 2 grams of fiber per slice, Juarez says. Fiber also keeps you feeling full longer.


Eating grains whole can take some getting used to, so start slowly (your taste buds and digestive system will thank you). If you usually eat white rice, mix in a bit of brown to get acquainted with the flavor. Do the same with white and whole-wheat couscous and other pastas. Over time, you can increase the whole-to-refined ratio.

Grains typically should be rinsed, then added to boiling water, covered and simmered. Substituting chicken stock or vegetable broth for the water and toasting the kernels in a pan with butter or oil, as you would a pilaf, also kick up the flavor.

and finally:

If you're preparing grains for a recipe, double the batch and save the remainder to add to salads and soups, to stuff tomatoes and bell peppers or to layer in a casserole. Not sure what to do with plain grains? Any of the following will wake them up: vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, fresh herbs, a squirt of citrus.

For the cook comfortable with the basics of whole-grain cooking, Pope suggests experimentation. How about a risotto with farro, or a cake incorporating quinoa?

Baking with whole grains can be challenging, though. Substitute gradually.

"Start with replacing about a third to half of the flour in your favorite recipe with whole-wheat flour," Speck says. "This will usually allow you to leave the rest of the recipe unchanged."

The results will not be as fluffy, she adds, "but they have a rich, nutty flavor that you will not find in white-flour goods."

For great whole-graine recipies try the War Eagle Whole Grain Cookbook. Every recipe I've tried from it has been outstanding. There's a link on my blog.

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