Natural Foods Pantry:
4 Great “Go-To” Grains

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Things We Love

Springer Huseby

One of the tricks I learned early on about healthy eating is a bit of pre-planning and advanced food prep can go a long way.   Like most folks, I was coming home at the end of a long day completely wiped out and ready to eat.  The last thing I wanted to do was spend an hour or so waiting for my grains to cook.  More often than not, I would just skip over it all together, grabbing whatever I could find in the fridge (and it wasn’t always good).

And then I was given one of the best pieces of advice EVER – start the week with a hefty supply of pre-cooked, ready-to-be-reheated grains.  So simple, so easy to do and life changing.  Really.  Now, each Sunday afternoon, I fire up a couple pots of grains, usually a brown rice and one other.  I use them for Sunday dinner and then store away the rest to enjoy thoughout the week.

Although I still have the occasional night of staring blankly into the fridge, they are fewer and far between.  With a supply of cooked grains on hand, getting a deliciously healthy dinner on the table FAST just got a whole lot easier.

A few of my “go-to” favorites:

 

The high-fiber alternative to traditional white rice, brown rice offers a greater nutritional punch than it’s highly processed counterpart.  With the bran and germ layers still intact, brown rice offers high levels of health-enhancing fiber as well as key vitamins & minerals.

 

CHARACTERISTICS

  • An excellent source of manganese, a trace mineral that plays a critical role in energy production in the body
  • Includes high-levels of selenium, known to be a powerful antioxidant
  • High in fiber, stabilizing blood sugar levels and supporting long-term digestive health
  • Gluten-free and relatively easy to digest

SIMPLE PREP

  • Rinse 1 cup of brown rice in a bowl or strainer.
  • Add the rice to a medium-sized saucepan with 2 cups of fresh water.  Cover and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer.  Continue cooking for 30-40 minutes until the rice is fully cooked.
  • Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before “fluffing” your rice with a fork.

Hearty Kale & Wild Rice Soup Recipe:  Try making this warming wintertime soup with brown rice instead.  You will still reap the benefits of a high-fiber fix without losing any of the flavor.

 

The most well-known of the cereal grains, oats are roasted after harvest, giving them their rich, hearty flavor.  Simple steel cut oats undergo minimal processing to remove their hulls, leaving the remainder of the nutrient-rich grain intact.  Keep in mind that all oats are NOT created equal – the more processed they are, the less nutritious they become.

CHARACTERISTICS

  • An excellent source of complex carbs, providing the body with much needed energy without the fluctuation in the blood sugar level
  • High in beta-glucan, a special form of fiber known to reduce cholesterol levels and promote cardio-vascular health
  • Rich in B vitamins, calcium & protein

SIMPLE PREP

  1. Place 1 cup of oats in a pot with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.
  2. Simmer on low for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  3. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before “fluffing” your oats with a fork.
  4. Top with fresh cut fruit, seeds & nuts or coconut flakes.  Add maple syrup or honey for a bit of sweet.

 

Once referred to as “the gold of the Incas”, quinoa has been credited with relieving migraines, preventing hyper-tension and high blood pressure, providing invaluable antioxidant protection and boosting energy levels.  It is also rich in protein and loaded with valuable vitamins and minerals.

 CHARACTERISTICS

  • A complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids
  • High in B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium & vitamin E
  • Gluten-free and easy to digest

SIMPLE PREP

  • Rinse 1 cup quinoa well with cool water in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear.
  • Add the quinoa to a medium-sized saucepan with 2 cups of fresh water.
  • Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 15 – 20 minutes.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe:  Quinoa works well both hot & cold.  Add some vegetables to your quinoa with a citrus dressing for a deliciously nourishing lunch.

 

Considered one of the “ancient grains”, farro originally hailed from Egypt before making its way to Italy in 30 BC.  It has long been a healthy staple in the Italian diet, often used to make breads & pastas.  Known for its distinct nutty flavor & chewy texture, farro makes for a great addition to any grain salad our soup.

CHARACTERISTICS

  • Offers twice the protein & fiber levels of modern wheat
  • Has a gluten-structure different from modern wheat, making it more easily digested by those with gluten sensitivities
  • High in magnesium, an essential mineral for supporting a healthy immune system and maintaining normal muscle and nerve function

SIMPLE PREP

  • If time allows, soak 1 cup of farro for 1-2 hours before cooking (soaking will cut back on cooking time).
  • Add the farro to a medium-sized saucepan with 2.5 cups fresh water.
  • Bring the water to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 35-45 minutes.

Farro Porridge w/ Pomegranate:  Start your day with a warming, nutrient-rich breakfast porridge topped with seasonal fresh fruit & maple syrup.

Farro Salad with Edamame & Carrots:  Try a more savory alternative with a hearty grain salad and your favorite chopped veggies.

 

Note from the Kitchen:  cooking times and grain to water ratios will vary.  Always watch your grains carefully, adding water or shortening cooking times if necessary.

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Thanks for reading! My name is Springer Huseby and I am a certified holistic health & nutrition coach, natural food cook, wife, mom, dog owner, San Francisco transplant and fledgling food blogger (not always in that order).[more...]

Comments...

  1. Molly says:

    Just the impetus I need to do something I’ve been thinking about, in the corner of my mind, for a long time, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. Thanks!

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