Grain of the Month: Wheat Berries

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!

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Background
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.

Nutritional Profile

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.

Preparing

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.

Recipes

Grain of the Month: Couscous

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!

Picture From Simply Scratch

Picture From Simply Scratch

Couscous: Fun to say and easy to prepare, couscous is made from crushed durum wheat semolina, making it less refined than transitional pasta. Couscous is a staple in Middle Easter cuisine and is often seen in American foods, served under beef or vegetable stews. Extremely versatile, couscous can be used in place of rice and makes a great addition to soups, stews, and salads.

Nutritional Profile
Couscous is a good source of protein, fiber, niacin, selenium, and B vitamins. On average, 1 cup of cooked couscous contains around 200 calories (prepared in water).

Buying and Storing
There are three main types of couscous:Moroccan, Israeli, and Lebanese (in order from smallest to largest and shortest cooking time to longest). At the store you can buy either traditional couscous, which takes a while to steam unless you use it in a risotto, or instant. Cooked couscous should be refrigerated for no longer than a week.

Preparing
The key to couscous is to not boil it. Once you place the couscous in the pot of boiling water or stock, immediately decrease the temperature to the lowest setting and cover. Steam until it has absorbed all liquid and fluff with a fork. Because couscous is pretty much flavorless, most recipes call for preparing it in a stock or adding seasonings and spices during cooking.
Recipes

Grain of the Month: Buckwheat

By Kelli Swensen, Dietetics Student, Sargent College

While we’re featuring buckwheat in our Grain of the Month series, it is actually a fruit seed and is related to rhubarb. However, because buckwheat is often used in replacement of rice, to make porridge, or ground down to a flour to bake with, we felt the series would be incomplete without it. Buckwheat is a very good source of manganese and a good source for dietary fiber. This fiber plus the fact that buckwheat is high in quality protein makes buckwheat a great ingredient that will keep you full for longer. Buckwheat comes in three main forms: buckwheat groats, which are the raw kernels, kasha, which are toasted groats, and buckwheat flour. Buckwheat can be used in savory dishes by substituting it in for rice or adding it to soups to make them more filling. My favorite use for buckwheat is in breakfast foods, especially breakfast bakes and pancakes; some people also like to cook buckwheat as porridge, giving themselves a break from traditional oatmeal. Buckwheat should be stored in a sealed container in a dry, dark place. Since buckwheat is not actually wheat, it is gluten-free!

Basic Cooking Instructions (may differ depending on the type of recipe)
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Stir in 1 cup dry buckwheat and return to a boil. Cover with a lid and bring the heat down to low. Let simmer for about 15min.

Here are some great breakfast recipes that use buckwheat:

This post is a great lead-in to the theme of the month for February: Bringing Back Breakfast.

Grain of the Month: Brown Rice

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!

Last year, we featured Spice of the Month posts to help add flavor to your dishes without added calories. Those posts can all be found by clicking on the Recipes tab at the top of the page then scrolling down to Spices Posts.

Now that we’ve helped build up your spice rack, we’ve decided this year we’re going to help you build your grain pantry. As delicious as pasta and sandwich bread are, it’s easy to get bored. Different grains supply different tastes, different nutrients, and, most importantly, different textures.

brown-rice

Brown Rice: Far from strange, brown rice has become a staple in most households. While white rice once dominated the rice world, brown rice is now just as common, even being offered in sushi and Chinese restaurants as a healthy option.

Nutritional Profile:
Because only the hull (outermost layer) of the rice kernel is removed during processing, brown rice retains the most nutrients out of the rice varieties. It is an excellent source of manganese (important for your nervous system as well as many other physiological processes), fiber, and selenium. It also contains numerous other vitamins and minerals not found in other rice varieties. Brown rice is considered a whole grain.

Buying and Storing:
Both long grain brown rice and short grain brown rice can be found in the grocery store. There is no nutritional difference between long grain and short grain, it’s really up to you which texture you prefer. Brown basmati rice can also be found in stores, making it a great option for Indian-inspired dishes. The most-wallet friendly way to buy brown rice is in bulk — just be sure to store it properly!
Uncooked brown rice should be stored in an air-tight container in your pantry or cupboards. Once cooked, rice can be saved in the refrigerator. However, if you’ve ever saved rice you’ll know that it can get a bit hard. To heat up leftovers, simply add a little bit of water to the rice in a pot on the stove until the rice has absorbed the moisture.

Preparing:
As a general rule, prepare brown rice with a 1:2 ratio of rice to liquid. For four servings, place 1 cup uncooked brown rice in a pot with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and let simmer until the water is absorbed (about 40min). Once water is absorbed, remove pot from heat and let sit with the cover still on for 10 minutes then fluff with a fork. Don’t have an hour? You can also buy 20 minute and 10 minute varieties as well.

Tried-and-True Sargent Choice Recipes:

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Have a favorite recipe that uses brown rice? We’d love to hear it! Leave us a comment below.