By Kelli Swensen, Dietetics Student, Sargent College
The first Tuesday of every month we will be featuring a grain. The posts will include background on the grain, nutritional information, instructions on how to store and cook it, and, of course, one or two healthy recipes for using the grain. Our goal is to help you add variety to your meals in 2012!
Similar in shape to short-grain brown rice, wheat berries are whole wheat kernels from which whole wheat flour is made from. Both varieties, red and white, are whole grains that have only had the hull removed.
Since only the hull has been removed, wheat berries are nutritional power-houses. A half cup of cooked wheat berries contains 3.5 g protein, 4.3 g of fiber, and only 111 calories. They are also loaded with antioxidant vitamin E and magnesium, which is important for bone and muscles.
Buying and Storing
Wheat berries can be found in the natural section of most large supermarkets and in many health food stores as well. As stated above, wheat berries come in red and white varieties, with each being nutritionally equivalent. Wheat berries should be stored in a sealed container in a cool, dry place.
While wheat berries to not need to be pre-soaked, they do need to be rinsed before cooking. Place in a colander and rinse under running water until the water runs clear then drain. For ½ cup of uncooked wheat berries, place 1.25 cups of water (or broth) to a boil. Add rinsed wheat berries to the water and bring to a boil again. Once boiling, turn down the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. A half cup uncooked wheat berries boiled in 1.25 cups of water yields about 1 1/8 cups cooked wheat berries. If you’re good at planning ahead, wheat berries can also be cooked in slow cookers overnight.