Cooking with Whole Grains

July 17, 2014

Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains – Some Important Facts:

Whole grains provide complex carbohydrates, higher amounts of vitamins, minerals, B-vitamins, and fiber, along with lower amounts of fat and salt, than refined carbohydrates.

A whole grain consists of the “bran”, “germ” and “endosperm”.

  • The “bran” contains fiber, B-vitamins, proteins, fats and minerals. It helps to promote removal of wastes from the body, and maintain even blood sugar levels.
  • The “germ” contains vitamins A, B, and E plus protein and fat.
  • The “endosperm” serves as a source of complex carbohydrates.

Unfortunately, refined grains, which we eat daily, are stripped of the “bran” and the “germ”.
By the end of the refining process, about 25-75% of the nutritional value of grains has been taken away in order to extend its shelf life.

Here we are going to explore Whole Ancient "Grains"



  • It is a “pseudograin”, i.e. it is a seed not a grain, so it is ideal for those with Celiac Disease.
  • It is high in vitamins A and C, quite low in carbohydrates and no gluten.
  • Contains more lysine than any other carbohydrate. It also has higher fiber content that wheat, corn, rice or soybeans.
  • Contains 60mg of calcium per ½ cup.

Great for porridge, to thicken soups or add to other grains to increase the protein content. Can be made into "popcorn" for those sensitive to corn, but don't put it in your air-popper - BELIEVE ME, use the oil in the pot on the stove top method

Barley (Pearled or Whole)

  • All barley available is pearled or hulled (it is practically impossible to cook unhulled barley).
  • Scotch barley (after first 3 pearlings) is higher in protein, minerals (potassium and calcium), fat and fibre than Pearl barley.
  • Contains small amounts of gluten.
  • Good for diarrhea, hyperacidity, mild insomnia and premenstrual syndrome.

Can be eaten plain or added to soups and stews.



  • It’s actually not a grain and it’s not wheat! It is related to rhubarb, and contains high amounts of all 8 essential amino acids, vitamin E and B-vitamins. It is also exceptionally high in iron and calcium and rich in phosphorous and potassium. It is gluten-free.
  • The whole grain is called “groats”, and can be unroasted (white) or roasted (brown, kasha).

Can be mixed with other grains, or eaten alone.


  • It’s not a vegetable! It is the only grain that contains vitamin A. High in vitamin E, B-vitamins and many minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. It is gluten-free.
  • It should not be used on a daily basis because of the high risk of developing sensitivity to it.

For most nutritional value or best absorption, it should be eaten on the cob or as coarse-ground polenta.


  • Made from either durum wheat or millet flour. Contains gluten.

Great in salads, pilafs or as a side dish.

Kamut (“Ka-MOOT”)


  • Less allergenic than wheat, but contains gluten. Contains 40% more protein and 65% more amino acids than modern wheat, and is richer in magnesium, zinc and vitamin E.
  • Can be found as whole grain kamut, kamut flour, kamut flakes, and kamut bread. It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavour.

Can be added whole grain to casseroles or soups, the flakes and flour can be used in cookies, porridge, or cakes.



  • One of the easiest grains to digest. Has a high content of protein, is gluten-free and is rich in B-vitamins, lecithin and the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, silica and potassium.
  • Has a balancing effect on the nervous system, and is suggested for use during pregnancy and recovery from illness.

Used on its own like rice, in salads or as a warm breakfast cereal.


  • High in soluble fiber, B-vitamins, vitamin E, phosphorous, calcium and iron.
  • Steel cut and large flake rolled oats cane be used to lower cholesterol, improved resistance to stress, give stamina and warmth. It can help to stimulate thyroid function and is good for diabetes.

Used as a whole grain, cooked as a breakfast food, added to casserole dishes and stews

Quinoa (“Keen-wa”)


  • It is a pseudograin. It has the highest protein content of all grains, as the essential amino acid balance is almost ideal. It is also high in iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin E and B-vitamins.
  • Remember to wash it well using a sieve to remove the bitter coating.
  • Gluten-free.

Used with other grains, vegetables, poultry or fish, and can be added to soups or salads.


White – Has the husk, several outer layers and the germ removed, making it less nutritious.
Brown – Has the whole kernel and is high in vitamins B and E, iron, protein and linoleic acid.
Wild – is a distant relative of the cultivated rice plant. It is not a grain, but an aquatic grass seed.

  • It has a greater content of B-vitamins, magnesium and zinc than rice, and has one of the highest protein contents. The flavour is very robust and nutty, so a little goes a long way (best mixed with other grains). Sometimes requires soaking before cooking – wash and then soak 1 cup rice in 2 cups water for 2-4 hrs.


  • Known as a “bread grain” because it requires some sort of milling or cracking to be useable in the digestive tract.
  • High in B-vitamins, protein, iron and contains low amounts of gluten, often tolerated by wheat sensitive people. Helps to maintain healthy function of the heart.

Found in breads, used to make gravies and thicken soups.

Sorghum (pronounced "Sore-gum")


  • It originated in Africa and is a human food in Africa and Asia, while in North America it is used to feed livestock.
  • This gluten-free grain is not genetically-modified. It is eaten with its outer layers providing more nutrients.
  • High in antioxidants and policosanols, as well as iron.

The flour can be substituted for wheat flour in many recipes. Add to salads, soups or served under a stir fry.Can also be used as a substitute for popcorn - again use the stove top with oil method.



  • Contains 30% more protein than wheat, B-vitamins, magnesium and fiber. Contains gluten.
  • Although similar to wheat, it is well tolerated by wheat sensitive people.
  • It has a delicious nutty taste and is easy to digest.

Used for baking, cooking, pasta and pancake mix.



  • is the smallest grain in the world, because it is so tiny the germ and the bran make up a larger portion of the grain, thus is it highly nutritious
  • it has a mild nutty flavour, and is rich in Calcium, fiber and protein.
  • Gluten free

Makes an excellent porridge with a creamy texture. Nice addition to burgers, cakes, cookies and breads



  • A hybrid of wheat and rye. Contains 50% more protein than wheat, more complete balance of amino acids and lower amount of gluten than wheat.
  • It is highly nutritious and tasty. Because of its hard texture, when cooked it retains a slight nutty crunchiness. If used for baking bread, mix with other grains as it contains little gluten.

Use in pilafs, breakfast cereals and in soups or stews.


  • Extensive processing and genetic modification has stripped wheat of its nutritive properties.
  • Very common to have a sensitivity to this grain because of its over abundant use.
  • Even if you are not sensitive to wheat, you should minimize its use by substituting with other grains (discussed above).
  • Couscous is a grain/pasta made from ground wheat. Bulgur is cracked wheat. Durum and semolina are other names used for wheat on labels.


How To Prepare Grains

  1. Rinse the grains in cold water before cooking, and until the water runs clear.

  2. Optional - To reduce cooking time, grains can be soaked overnight or for about 6-8 hours. Cook in the same water that grains soaked in.

  3. Bring water to boil, add grain and return to boil. If you are using soaked grains, bring the water to a boil with the grain in it. Then reduce heat and simmer, covered tightly, until done.

  4. Test the grain to see if it is ready. Most grains are slightly chewy when cooked.



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