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Using Whole Grains
Once you decide to add whole grains in your diet, you will find that you have lots of choices. Some of the names may seem confusing at first, but most of the whole grains are interchangeable in recipes. All of the whole grains have bland, neutral flavors and can be used any way you would use pasta or white rice. You can add them to soups, top them with your favorite chili or pasta sauce, or use them to make hearty salads.

 


They are also delicious as hot breakfast cereals or in rice-pudding type desserts. Many of the recipes in the next section call for cooked whole grains. Follow the directions in this chapter and keep a variety of cooked whole grains on hand in your freezer, ready to make your own healthy "fast food".

Where to Find Whole Grains

Most larger supermarkets carry wild rice, barley and brown rice. They may all be in the section with white rice and pasta, or you may find barley in the international section (with Jewish specialties) and wild rice in the gourmet food section. Your supermarket may have a health section with various other whole grains (the selection varies widely from store to store and region to region.) You will probably need to go beyond your supermarket to find some of the less common whole grains such as kamut or oat groats. Try the health-oriented food stores, specialty gourmet shops, and food co-ops in your area. You can shop for whole grains online, but shipping costs tend to be high.

How to Store Whole Grains

Uncooked whole grains keep a long time in canisters or other airtight containers. If you plan to store grains for several months, use containers made of glass, metal or hard plastic to avoid insects. They will keep even longer if you store them in your refrigerator or freezer.

Cooked whole grains should be refrigerated and will keep about a week in a covered container. If you don't plan to use them up in a few days, put leftovers in portion-size freezer containers or plastic sandwich bags and freeze them. They are ready to serve after a minute or two in the microwave.

How to Cook Whole Grains

You can ignore the instructions on packages of whole grains and use whichever method you prefer from the choices on the next few pages. You do not need to rinse or presoak whole grains. The first time you cook a new grain, check them 5-10 minutes before the end of the cooking time to make sure they are not getting mushy. If they aren't tender enough to suit you at the end of the recommended time, cook a little longer.

You can cook whole grains in plain water, but using bouillon or other flavored liquids gives them a flavor boost. You can use bouillon cubes, granules, liquid or paste; make up the required amount of liquid following the directions on your brand of bouillon. Grains cooked in vegetable or chicken flavored bouillon will have a neutral flavor that can be used for any purpose: breakfast cereal, main dishes, salads or desserts. If you use plain water or if your bouillon does not contain salt, add a little salt to your taste. Whole grains cooked without any salt will taste flat.

July 31st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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