Move over white rice, whole grains are the popular guys in town. More than ever, we are being told by health professionals to consume more whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa, and less refined grains, like white rice and pastas made with white flour, and for good reason: studies show whole grains can lower your risk of chronic diseases – we’ll eat to that! By definition, a whole grain contains all of the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. Even if the grain is processed (cracked, rolled, cooked, etc.), all of the nutrients in the whole grain should remain intact. Lucky for us, whole grains are not only a great way to improve your health and stay satiated, but they are surprisingly delicious and hearty as well.
While we’re all familiar with oats and brown rice, there are plenty of other delicious and nutritious whole grain options to explore. Many of these whole grains are worth buying as they are not only good for you, but they’re also widely available in the bulk bin or natural living sections of certain grocery stores. These grains can be used in substitution for others like rice and quinoa, and cooked in a similar fashion. Next time you’re at the grocery store, keep an eye out for the following unique whole grains:
- Amaranth (you can pop it like popcorn!)
Although the pronunciation of these can be somewhat intimidating: quinoa is pronounced (KEEN-wah, not kwuh-NO-ah); don’t let that stop you from including them in your daily meals. When added to soups and stews, these grains bring a wholesome addition to already comforting broths and stocks. With their high amount of fiber and nutrients, these nutty-tasting grains add bulk to your broth, transforming a regular bowl of soup into a filling and healthy meal. Combine them with veggies and beans or meat and you have the perfect antidote for beating the chill of these last months of winter.
Toss millet on top of your salad, replace regular oats in your morning oatmeal with amaranth (believe us, it’s delicious!) or better yet, try your hand at one (or all) of these delicious and nutritious soups and stews. You’ll be on your way to calling yourself a health-nut in no time.
Stemming from the ancient wheat emmer, farro is a popular grain in many parts of Italy. It lends a chewy texture to this chili that is packed with veggies and beans. Plus, you can let it cook all day in the crockpot while you’re at work. (Recipe and photo: Cookie Monster Cooking)
Legend has it that Egyptians buried mummies with necklaces made out of pearl barley. We’ll put it in our food instead. Packed with creamy lentils and hearty barley, this cumin-scented stew will please vegetarians and carnivores alike. (Recipe and photo: All Day I Dream About Food)
You definitely won’t be hungry after dipping your spoon into this soup brimming with 17 different kinds of beans and barley. Laced with herbs de provence, this soup packs a punch of earthy flavor. (Recipe and photo: Bev Cooks)
Want to indulge in buffalo wings without all of the guilt? Look no further than this spicy chili. Commonly found in tabbouleh, bulgur makes an appearance in this chili that’s topped with blue cheese croutons. (Recipe and photo: Naturally Ella)
Freekeh translates “to rub,” and refers to how the grain is harvested. This grain is harvested young, in order to maximize it’s nutritional value, making it a high in protein and low in carbohydrates. This soup is packed with additional fiber and protein thanks to the sweet potato, kale, and chickpeas. (Recipe and photo: The Corner Kitchen)
Brown rice makes this traditional Greek soup even more satisfying. The egg keeps the soup creamy, while the lemon and dill keep it bright and fresh. (Recipe and photo: Two Blue Lemons)
Wheatberries are the entire wheat kernel, and make any meal heartier. This chili is full of vitamin-rich vegetables, wheatberries and even a dash of cocoa powder to deepen the flavor. (Recipe and photo: Vegetarian Ventures)
Similar to polenta, millet is often used in porridge-like dishes. This chowder is super creamy yet light thanks to the combination of sweet corn, potatoes, greens and chives. (Recipe and photo: The First Mess)
This soup is a nod to traditional chicken noodle soup, minus the noodles. Quinoa is not only a whole grain, but it’s rich in protein as well, making for a filling soup. (Recipe and photo: Fit Foodie Finds)
Farro and chickpeas are the stars in this nourishing and healthy soup, which is complemented by hearty mustard greens, onions and celery. (Recipe and photo: Herbivoracious)
Forget cream of mushroom; this soup will fill you up without weighing you down. The combination of meaty mushrooms and wild rice creates a bowl full of comfort. (Recipe and photo: A Thought For Food)
Amaranth has a more peppier-y taste than most whole grains and is roughly 14% protein. This soup marries amaranth with spicy ginger and and creamy coconut milk, delivering tons of exotic flavor in every spoonful. (Recipe and photo: The Mindful Foodie)
Not just found in pancake mix, buckwheat is a wholesome ingredient, perfect for hearty soup. Buckwheat and beef come together to create this warming and delicious soup, perfect for a winters’ night. (Recipe and photo: Olga’s Flavor Factory)