Whole Grain Guide

Good Morning!

I am writing this in response to some emails I received regarding what grains make up “good” carbohydrates. Aside from the general rule (if it’s white, don’t eat it), there is actually quite a variety of whole grains to choose from. Whole Foods put together a Whole Grain Guide which I am going to put below for your informational pleasure :0)

Whole Grains 101

This slightly sticky grain is high in fiber and nutrient rich, with a high concentration of lysine, an essential amino acid.
Barley flakes
These are made from lightly toasted pearled barley rolled into flakes.
Believe it or not, buckwheat is a distant cousin to rhubarb and actually isn’t related to wheat or other grains at all. But don’t count it out as the black sheep of the family just yet! Look for toasted and untoasted varieties and use it as you would other grains, to make pilafs, casseroles and stuffings.
Bulgur wheat
Bulgur is partially cooked cracked wheat. It’s quick cooking and delicious in grain salads like tabouleh.
Cracked wheat
This one is just as it sounds; it refers to wheat berries that have been cracked into small pieces.
Farro belongs to the wheat family and for good reason. It’s rich in fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, B, C and E and it’s supremely delicious in Rustic Farro Soup with Sausage and Mushrooms.
This ancient Egyptian wheat was recently rediscovered and we’re so glad! It’s rich and buttery with a great, chewy texture. Look for Kamut® flakes, too, which you can use like oatmeal.
This mild, very digestible grain is a favorite for folks on a wheat-free diet. It also has a good balance of essential amino acids and is delicious with sautéed vegetables and beans or when used to make risotto.
Pearled barley
You’re probably used to eating this yummy grain in things like Barley Soup with Beef and Mushrooms, but it has lots of other uses, too. Barley is lightly milled to retain all of the germ and at least two thirds of the bran, which makes it a healthy choice to use for grain salads, soups, stews and chili, or as a stuffing for vegetables.
This is basically corn that has a hard protein outer layer covering its inner starch layers, and we’re betting you probably already know how to eat this one.
This protein powerhouse is actually a small dried seed with a great nutty flavor. It’s perfect as a stuffing for enchiladas or tacos or use it to make delicious salads such as Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables.
Rolled oats
Turns out that rolled oats, the same ones that you had for breakfast as a kid and use to make Oh-So-Good Oatmeal Cookies, are a good source of B vitamins and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus and iron. Cookies, anyone?
This high-protein, low-gluten grain is more slowly digested than other grains. Combine with beans for a particularly good match.
This whole grain is often in the spotlight and for good reason. Spelt, while similar to wheat, actually has 30% more protein. It’s particularly well tolerated by wheat sensitive folks, too. Use spelt just as you would wheat, and look for spelt flakes, too, which can be used like rolled oats.
Steel cut oats
These are steamed and cut whole oat groats (a.k.a. hulled grains). They’re chewy and make for a particularly rustic and delicious hot cereal.
This ancient grain has a sweet and malty flavor; it’s a rich source of calcium, magnesium, boron, copper, phosphorus and zinc, too. Contains twice as much iron as wheat and barley!
We know this high-protein, chewy grain needs no introduction, but we couldn’t very well leave it off the list.

Whole Grains: Cooking Tips

  1. Rinse: Just prior to cooking, rinse whole grains thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear then strain them to remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Cook: As a general rule, you can cook whole grains by simply boiling the water, then adding the grain, return water to a boil, then simmer, covered, until tender. Cooking hint: Use broth instead of water for even more flavor.
  3. Test: Just like pasta, always test whole grains for doneness before taking them off of the heat; most whole grains should be slightly chewy when cooked.
  4. Fluff: When grains are done cooking, remove them from the heat and gently fluff them with a fork. Then cover them and set aside to let sit for 5 to 10 minutes and serve.

Whole Grain Flour 101

The first thing you should know about buying whole grain flours is that they should always smell fresh. Store them in the refrigerator in moisture-tight containers, where you can expect them to last 2 to 4 months. (Hint for the cook: always let flour come back to room temperature before using for the best results.) For more on the grains that these flours are made from, see above.

Amaranth flour
A strong, sweet, spicy, nutty-flavored flour. Best used as an accent flour in waffles, pancakes, cookies or muffins. And this one’s gluten-free.
Blue cornmeal
Higher in protein than yellow cornmeal. Blue cornmeal turns lavender when cooked. Use this gluten-free flour to make beautiful pancakes, muffins and corn tortillas.
Buckwheat flour
Commonly used combined with wheat flour for pancakes, waffles, blintzes, and in pastas. Try this on for size: Whole Grain Apple Waffles.
Gluten flour
Gluten flour is white flour mixed with concentrated wheat protein. Add to bread dough to increase leavening (2 tablespoons per 1 cup flour in whole grain bread; 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon per 1 cup flour in white breads). Also add to breads with extra bran, raisins or nuts. Increase kneading time to activate extra gluten.
Graham flour
Hard whole wheat flour with a coarse and flaky outer bran layer and finely ground germ. Though its most famous use is in crackers, it adds texture to all baked goods.
Oat bran
Contains soluble fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol levels when eaten as part of a low-cholesterol diet. Add oat bran to muffins or bread, or use it as a coating for chicken and seafood.
Rye flour
When added to baked goods, the results are moist and dense. Due to its low gluten content it’s often mixed with whole wheat flour to increase its rising ability.
Durum flour with the bran and germ removed. Used to make high quality “white” pasta. Also adds extra flavor and texture in some bread recipes.
Soy flour
Like rye flour, this high-protein flour is usually combined with whole wheat flour to increase its rising ability.
Spelt flour
This ancient grain is used as a wheat substitute. (Note: If substituting for wheat in a recipe, reduce the liquid by 25 %.) Don’t over knead; the gluten here is sensitive.
Teff flour
Rich in calcium, protein and iron; sweet malty flavor. Use this gluten-free flour in quick breads, pancakes, and waffles. In leavened breads, use 5 parts wheat flour to 1 part teff flour.
Unbleached white flour
Refined wheat flour; naturally aged to strengthen its gluten. Excellent for baking breads and cakes. It’s often combined with whole wheat pastry flour for cookies.
Wheat germ
Vitamin and mineral-rich layer of the wheat berry. Excellent source of vitamin E. Look for it toasted or untoasted. Add to pancakes and other baked goods as well as meat or vegetable loaves. Traditional pumpkin bread’s got nothing on this honey-sweetened Pumpkin Bread made with wheat germ.
Whole durum wheat flour
From very high protein wheat; has less starch than other wheat flours. Makes a tough dough that can stretch and expand, so it’s perfect for making whole grain pasta.
Whole wheat flour
Ground from the entire wheat berry to it has a full-bodied flavor and coarse texture.
Whole wheat pastry flour
Ground from soft wheat berries, this flour absorbs less liquid in recipes. Use in non-yeast baked goods such as cookies, pancakes, muffins, quick breads and cakes.
Unprocessed bran flour
The ground outer layer of the wheat berry. Use small amounts at a time to increase your fiber intake.
Yellow cornmeal
If you’re looking for rich, buttery flavor, you’ve come to the right place. Use yellow cornmeal, which is gluten-free, to make polenta, corn bread, muffins, or perhaps a Gluten-Free Italian Cornmeal Cake.
I hope this opens your eyes to the whole world of grainy goodness! Email me with any questions or even some great recipe suggestions!
This entry was posted in Nutrition, Recipes and tagged , by Trainer Kim. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trainer Kim

I love my God, husband, friends, family and sometimes my cat. My passion is challenge and my goal is to constantly exceed my expectations. I love to hike, bike, swim, run, jump and do Crossfit. I am usually in the kitchen baking or cooking something healthy and (hopefully) delicious! I love fitness and nutrition and strive to help people change their lives by training their bodies!

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