Monday, November 10, 2008

Whole Grain Goodness

When it comes to grains, it may take a while to sort through them!
There are so many to choose from! Different tastes, textures, colours and even shapes. But on a whole, all of them are composed of an amazing source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, b vitamins, trace proteins, minerals and even heart healthy fats that make you feel energized and nourished.

What needs to be recognized and understood by many, is that grains can be an essential part of everyones daily diet unless candida or carbohydrate metabolism is a problem. But when grains are left intact and prepared properly in their whole form - one requires much less of a portion to be satisfied. These grains are very different from eating a bowl of white pasta, white bread or white rice where you may need a few servings to fill that "hunger" void.
The natural fiber content whole grains also don't spike your blood sugar levels nearly as much and thus also contribute to feeling satiated for a longer period of time.

So the trick is to start simply. Select the grains that are most familiar and then go from there. Most people are accustomed to cooking rice, couscous and maybe even barley. With rice you want to find an organic brown rice. This can be either short grain, long grain or basmati (for simplicity sake). Couscous also exists in wheat counterparts, Spelt and Kamut (these are ancient forms of wheat that are left in their whole form and easier to digest). Also speaking of spelt and kamut, both of which can be cooked in their whole grain form as well...spelt is also known as Farro which comes from Italy. It is a wonderful addition or substution for a grain in any classic rice dish recipe!
As for barley, there are a few different types - but to start out I would go with a "pearled" form as it is easier to cook. Once you get hooked on grains and they become more familiar, get the whole barley which requires soaking and longer cooking and also has more fiber and nutrients intact.

Then comes the next level of grains which includes many gluten free options for those with digestive disturbances such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, crohns and something known as "leaky gut". These grains (almost seed-like) includes Quinoa, Amaranth, Teff, Millet and Wild Rice to name a few. Recipes for these divine gems can range from loafs, to pilafs, croquettes, soups, salads, cookies and pancakes. Many a cookbook exists on how to venture into the world of grains, including how to soak them, cook them, prepare them using a wide variety of ingredients. "The Splendid Grain" by Rebecca Wood is one in particular that makes cooking and learning about grains really easy and rather fascinating.

My overall advice, is to make sure you have some healthy whole grains on hand, stored properly (in a glass jar) in your cupboards, so that the next time you want a warming and nourishing bowl, side dish or breakfast of delicious goodness they are there and ready to go!

Warm Farro Foutash Salad

1 cup pearled farro (if the whole form then soak overnight)
1 cup vegetable stock
½ butternut squash, cubed
1 red onion, chopped
1 cup portabello mushrooms, chopped
1 cup rainbow chard, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sea salt
Dash of herb de provence
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup toasted walnuts
1/3 cup cranberries or currents
Crumbled goat cheese (optional)


Rinse and place farro into a pot with vegetable stock and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours.
Set aside farro.
Place cubed butternut squash on a baking tray with 1 tablespoons of olive oil and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil with garlic over medium heat and add mushroom and sauté until softened.
Add spinach, sea salt, dry herbs and balsamic vinegar. Let sit to let the flavours combine for a few minutes.
Place cooked faro into a large bowl, add olive oil, and butternuts squash and onion, mushroom, spinach mixtures and stir everything in.Add pinenuts and crumbled goat cheese

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