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Cooking With Grains - Cooking Class and Recipes
As we change our diets from the average American diet toward one that is more health promoting, breakfast is a great place to start! Begin by using a variety of fresh whole grains. These grains are prepared in minutes and are rich in nutrients. They can be cooking while you take your shower, get the kids ready or do 25 minutes on the exercise bike. Then, simply garnish with the broad array of condiments available and breakfast takes on a healthy and exciting new flavor.

Whole grains are nutritional powerhouses: they are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. What makes a grain "whole", is that it has not been processed or refined, thereby preserving its outer fibrous shell and its inner germ, rich in nutrients. Because the bran has been retained, each 1/2 cup serving of a whole grain provides 4-6 grams of fiber. (The recommended daily intake of fiber is about 30 grams). The indigestible outer covering is the source of insoluble fiber, effective at promoting healthy bowel movements and stabilizing fluctuating blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber is known for its cholesterol lowering effect. When unprocessed, whole grains are good sources of selenium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, B vitamins, vitamin E and selenium.

The germ is where most of the amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are found. Most grains and beans lack the full complement of all eight essential amino acids in high enough ratios to be considered a complete protein source on their own. But when combined with nuts, seeds, beans or legumes, a complete protein is formed. Amaranth, millet and quinoa have more of the amino acid lysine, which most grains are notoriously deficient in, thus making them better protein sources.

Because our culture has tended to overuse wheat, oats, barley and rye, many people are becoming increasingly sensitive to them. It is the gluten portion that is often allergenic. Gluten is the component of these grains which makes them sticky, thus allowing them to be kneaded into breads. Yet, there are many other delicious grains used extensively throughout the world which do not contain gluten. The non-glutenous grains are amaranth, quinoa (pronounced keen-wa), millet, buckwheat, rice and corn. Teff, spelt and kamut contain very low levels of gluten and are often more well tolerated by sensitive indiviuals.

Whole grains should be stored in air-tight glass or ceramic containers. If you see little clumps of grain that cling to the glass like static electricity, it is usually the eggs of grain bugs. When mature, they hatch into larva and become tiny moths. Storing the grain is glass jars keeps bugs out. Simply toss any contaminated grain into a plastic bag and discard. Wash and dry the jar well before putting in fresh grain. Once cooked, whole grains can be refrigerated and reheated 2 or 3 days later.

Preparing grains couldn't be easier. The simple "2:1 formula" is almost universal: that is 2 parts water to 1 part grain. Slightly more water is recommended for drier grains like millet, quinoa and amaranth. (Use pure, filtered water, since it is the substance that will hydrate the grain). The cooking time is usually 25 minutes, but cooking time will vary depending on the level of heat used, the type of pan and whether or not it is cooked covered. Try adding cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and other spices to the cooking water. For dinner grains, try cooking with broth and added spices.

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About The Author
Dr. Sally Blake LaMont is a naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist, and educator who has devoted the last twenty-seven years to practicing and teaching the principles of healthy living. She blends the science of naturopathic medicine with the ancient wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine. In addition to maintaining a clinical practice in Marin County, California, she teaches at San......more
 
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