Why is it that we wait until something happens to implement corrective actions, like buying heating oil the day the thermometer dips below freezing or bringing your pots of herbs in after the first freeze, when the weatherman has been warning us for days this day was coming?
Do you have that special friend that calls to tell you she's going on a drastic healthy diet immediately after finding out that all those milkshakes she consumed were really milkshakes after all, not healthy breakfast smoothies?
Do you know that person who is always ahead of the game, organized and does everything right? Yea, I got one of them in the family too! Hat's off to them but news flash!, I probably will never be 'one of those', but I can do better and I should do better. While eating a sandwich won't hurt me, too many carbs will so it's time to take inventory of all the grains that I am allowed to eat and start incorporating them into my daily diet.
Care to join me?
Let's start with quinoa, pretty much the most popular grain/seed out there and luckily there has to be thousands of recipes out there, so getting started should be easy.
I found this patty recipe over at Martha's and made a batch (with a few modifications). They will be perfect served with a roasted piece of meat or served under a ladle of warm stew. Who needs egg noodles or mashed potatoes?
Add a dollop of yogurt and a slice of smoked salmon and these make great appetizers for a party.
Taste and Aroma: Quinoa by itself tastes rather bland.
Uses: Quinoa is stocked with life-sustaining nutrients all across the board, including all eight essential amino acids. There are other highly beneficial compounds, vitamins and minerals in this food that the Incas reverently called "chisaya mama" (mother of all grains).
Fun Fact: Most people who have heard of quinoa think it’s a grain, and judging by how it’s pronounced, some assume it’s from the Orient but technically, quinoa is a seed, not a grain and it’s grown high in the Andes Mountains of South America.
Taste and Aroma: Mild but distinct, sweet, nutty, earthy and malt-like flavor.
Uses: Can be used in place of rice, couscous, quinoa and other grains. Amaranth can also be used as a hot porridge-like breakfast, popped as a snack or in soups.
Fun Fact: Like quinoa, amaranth is an ancient grain and a complete protein. Cook your amaranth with lots of extra water and rinse the grains off once they are cooked through. You do this to remove the excess thickened cooking water.
Taste and Aroma: Teeny-tiny and butter-colored, millet has a mild, pleasing and ever so slightly nutty taste (pan-roasting enhances the nutty flavor.) It has a texture and taste somewhere between egg-rich pasta and cornmeal.
Uses: Millet swells tremendously when cooked and makes a great alternative to oatmeal for breakfast. Millet is also a fabulous whole grain for fall because it combines particularly well with sweet winter squash and root vegetables. It is particularly delicious with almond milk, chopped baked apple, cinnamon and a drizzle of raw honey.
Fun Fact: Millet has been cultivated for some 8,000 years and is one of the oldest foods known to man.
Check out more indepth information and a recipe for millet grits here.
Pearled Barley -
Taste and Aroma: When cooked, barley has a chewy texture and nutty flavor, similar to brown rice.
According to the FDA, barley's soluble fiber reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and can lower cholesterol. But that's not all that this amazing food does! Barley also contains insoluble fiber, which reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes and colon cancer. One cup of cooked barley provides 193 calories, 6 grams of fiber and 3.5 grams of protein. With less than one gram of fat per serving, barley is a virtually fat-free food and is also cholesterol-free.
Uses: Although soup is the most popular way to eat barley, you can use it like any other grain such as couscous or rice. Serve a curry or stir-fry over barley instead of rice or make a barley pilaf.
Fun Fact: 98% of barley grown in the United States will never make it into your soup! Barley is refined to make barley malt - a key ingredient in beer, and is also grown for feeding animals used for food.
Taste and Aroma: Bulgur is a common ingredient in Armenian, Assyrian, Lebanese, Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean dishes. It has a light, nutty flavor.
Uses: Bulgur can be used in pilafs, soups, bakery goods, or as stuffing. In breads, it adds a whole grain component. It is a main ingredient in tabbouleh salad and kibbeh. Its high nutritional value makes it a good substitute for rice or couscous.
Fun Fact: One cup of bulgur has fewer calories, less fat, and more than twice the fiber of brown rice.
Taste and Aroma: Similar to millet in texture, sorghum benefits from being toasted first before cooking. Sorghum can be cooked into porridge.
Uses: Unlike some gluten free grains, the hearty, chewy texture of whole grain sorghum is very similar to wheat berries, making it an ideal addition to pilafs and cold salads. Replace the noodles or white rice in soups with sorghum for a more nutritious alternative.
Fun Fact: Surprise and delight your friends and family by serving popped sorghum instead of popcorn at your next gathering. Sorghum is easy to pop in the microwave or on the stove top and makes a fun conversation piece for movie night.
Kasha (buckwheat) -
Taste and Aroma: Raw buckwheat groats are light brown or green and don't have much of an aroma at all.
Uses: The triangular seeds, known as buckwheat groats, are frequently made into flour for use in noodles, crepes, and many gluten-free products on the market these days. Buckwheat is a good binding agent and, when soaked, becomes very gelatinous.
Fun Fact: Interestingly, buckwheat is currently being studied for its nutritional benefits. It is used to relieve some of the symptoms of Type II diabetes as well as high blood pressure. Buckwheat contains rutin, known to strengthen capillary walls.
Little Quiona Patties
Makes 36 mini and 12 large patties
* 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, room temperature
* 4 large eggs, beaten
* 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
* 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese
* 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 cup whole-grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1. Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, onion, cheese, and garlic. Add the bread crumbs, stir, and let stand for a few minutes. Form mixture into twelve 1-inch thick patties. (Add more breadcrumbs if the mixture is too wet; add water if too dry.) Mixture can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
2. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Working in batches, add patties, cover, and cook until bottoms are deeply browned, about 7 to 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium if there is no browning after 10 minutes and continue to cook until patties are browned. Flip patties with a spatula and cook the second sides until golden, about 7 minutes. Remove from skillet and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining patties.