Sunday, March 22, 2009

Whole grain goodness

One of the wonderful things about my job is how it offers me the chance to constantly speak with interesting and inspiring people. Recently, I wrote a story about the healing properties of macrobiotic eating and I was able to interview two experts, Connie Arnold and Meg Wolff (who writes the Becoming Whole blog). Both filled me in on what this food philosophy is all about and explained that while fish can be eaten on occasion (and no food is truly off-limits), macrobiotics is very similar to a whole foods vegan diet. And the cornerstone of a macrobiotic meal is the cooked whole grain.

I've long been a fan of whole grains, but after speaking with Meg and Connie I've made an extra effort to make sure these tasty morsels show up on our plates. I've officially switched from steel cut oats to whole oat groats for breakfast and having been cooking up more whole grains for dinner. In the photo above, you can see the three types of rice I like to keep on hand. They are long grained brown rice, wild rice and short grained brown rice. Long grain brown rice is ideal for stir frying (particularly when the cooked rice has been allowed to sit overnight in the refrigerator) and adding to soups. In contrast, short grained brown rice is perfect for making things such as veggie burgers and desserts, which benefit from this rice's sticky qualities. I like wild rice in salads, stuffings and pilafs, like this one below.

To simplify pilaf making, I cook 3/4 cup long grain brown rice and 1/4 cup wild rice in 2 cups of water. Before boiling, I add turmeric, garlic powder, onion flakes, salt and pepper. Once it's steamed, the rice has a nice golden hue and a built-in flavor profile.

Rice is by far the most common whole grain on American dinner plates, but there are a world of other grains to try. Here are four jars plucked from my pantry: quinoa, millet, rye and amaranth. All can offer a hearty, nutty component to soups, salads and stir fries. Quinoa and amaranth pack a protein punch, and the tiny grains add an interesting texture to both hot and cold dishes. I particularly like them in citrusy salads.

Millet is another great grain to have on hand. It has a very mild flavor and a pleasing texture. Here I paired it with a quick vegetable and tempeh stir fry for a simple, easy rice alternative. The taste was delicious, and I'm happy knowing these wholesome superfoods are quickly becoming the stars of my kitchen.

1 comment:

Bianca said...

Hm, I'd always wondered what the difference in short and long grain brown rice was. I buy both but never realized they'd have different uses.