Exploring whole-grain tastes and textures | TheUnion.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Exploring whole-grain tastes and textures

The Whole Grains Council is reporting that 64 per cent of Americans say they are trying to eat more whole grains.

To help ward off heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that most of us eat 3 or more servings of whole grains a day. And recent research is telling us that regularly eating enough whole grains, with their ability to naturally curb appetite, may make it easier to manage weight.

Store-bought products such as whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, and snacks such as popcorn, can help meet recommended levels for eating whole grains every day. But to further broaden the variety of whole grains you eat, and open up a world of creative options using them, new cookbook author Robin Asbell offers another strategy.



In the introduction to “The New Whole Grains Cookbook: Terrific Recipes using Farro, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Barley, and Many Other Delicious and Nutritious Grains” (Chronicle Books, 2007) Asbell says “the place on your table currently occupied by white rice and pasta can easily be filled with delicious whole-grain dishes.”

If you are new to whole grains, Asbell suggests that you introduce whole grains into your diet gradually, by first serving them “as a bed for favorite stir-fries, curries, and saucy main dishes.” Then branch out and enjoy all sorts of tasty dishes with whole grains as an integral component. Asbell offers her Polpette (mini meatloaf) with Bulgur, Parmesan, and Sage as a great way for meat lovers to start to experience more of the joys of whole grains in dishes.




In her book Asbell reinvents dishes from world cuisines using a variety of wholesome whole grains as starring ingredients.

A bright bowl of African Millet Salad with Corn and Peppers greets you on the book’s front cover and welcomes you to Asbell’s tour of whole-grain tastes and textures.

Inside, also from the Cold Whole Sides chapter of the book, you discover Crunchy Farro Salad with Artichokes, Red Bell Peppers, and Edamame; Buckwheat Mushroom Kreplach (small dumplings) in Dill Tomato Sauce; and Asbell’s crustless version of Pastiera di Grana, a rustic Italian ricotta cake, with wheat berries and bits of chocolate, an easy chilled dessert perfect for summer entertaining.

There’s something in the book for just about everyone, from the familiar whole-grain favorites to the less common, or newly available varieties.

Asbell introduces us to the recently developed white wheat “for whole-grain breads with no brown color,” and to Purple Prairie barley, a new variety, which, because of its purple-pigmented bran layer, says Asbell, is higher in antioxidants than regular barley.

She showcases Purple Prairie Barley in her Crystallized Ginger and Barley Tea Bread, a “spicy loaf with chewy barley and zingy ginger chunks”, a fun snack and guaranteed conversation starter at a picnic or potluck.

Pigmented rices, such as those that are black, purple, red, and mahogany, are the richest in antioxidants of any rices, she points out. Asbell features Himalayan red rice in her lively Indonesian Red Rice Salad with Boiled Eggs and Macadamias, and calls for sticky sweet black rice in Coconut-Lemongrass Black Rice Pudding, a “luscious tropical fruit pudding, the ideal dessert after a Thai meal.”

Rye is another excellent whole-grain choice for a salad, but has an additional advantage, says Asbell. Unlike rice and other grains which harden when cooled, rye starches remain soft in chilled salads. And dieters take note: Asbell reports that rye “contains a special carbohydrate which absorbs eight times its weight in water and holds it, making it a great hunger-filler.”

Since buckwheat is gluten-free, it’s a great grain for those with sensitivities to gluten. Asbell advises toasting small, soft grains such as buckwheat and millet to develop a nutty flavor and keep them more separate in cooking.

And millet, depending on the cooking process applied, says Asbell, can assume different textures, from a “fluffy golden pilaf” if pretoasted, to a soft “polenta-style preparation” if left untoasted. In Asbell’s Cream of Asparagus, Sorrel, and Millet Soup with Almonds, the untoasted millet’s very soft texture helps to healthfully thicken the soup.

Carol Guild 5/13/08 Possible boxes

To get all the goodness of whole grains and save extra time for more warm weather fun, try these time-saving tips Asbell’s book suggests: Choose whole grains that cook quickly such as amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, quinoa, millet, teff, whole wheat couscous, and brown Kalijira or “baby basmati” rice.

Soak larger, long-cooking grains overnight for a softer texture in less cooking time. Asbell recommends soaking whole oats, hulled barley, whole wheat farro, kamut, and rye. If you wish, you can also soak short or long-grain brown rice, black and red rice.

Invest in one of today’s user-friendly pressure cookers, very popular in Europe, to shave time off cooking larger whole grains, perfect for easy salads, side dishes, or summer’s light entrees.

Several recipes in Asbell’s whole-grain recipe collection reflect the need for some especially fast but nourishing dishes in just about every cook’s repertoire. Examples are her Overnight Smoked Salmon-Spinach Strata with Whole Wheat, a breakfast dish, Quick Skillet

Flatbreads, made with amaranth or teff and whole wheat pastry flour, that involve no kneading or rolling, and the versatile Mexican Quinoa with Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and Cilantro, which you can serve as a warm side dish one day, and whatever’s left as part of a filling for wraps the next.

Developing dishes that were healthful was a priority of Asbell’s. She places wholesome whole grains in good company in many of her book’s recipes, and makes you aware of healthy cooking options.

In the Whole Entrees chapter of the book you will find many recipe variations for vegetarians. Asbell suggests using seitan for the lamb in the French Lamb and Rye Berry Braise, and says to simply substitute more portobello mushrooms for the sausage in her Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza made using golden, buttery-tasting kamut flour in the crust.

And for chocolate-lovers Asbell deliciously pairs whole grains and chocolate in desserts and even for a breakfast or brunch surprise. So this spring, take Asbell’s advice and “fall in love with the flavor and heft of whole grains.” For an indulgent treat on a special day, try her Caramel Walnut Chocolate Chunk Granola, made with old-fashioned rolled oats and dark chocolate, as a snack, or layered in a yoghurt or ice cream parfait.

Although you can’t hurry love, you just might be able to expedite it a little.

Karen Dolinar is a California-credentialed food educator who has taught, done research, and written for local and national publications.

WHOLE GRAINS UP TO SPEED WITH TIME-SAVING TIPS

FROM THE NEW WHOLE GRAINS COOKBOOK

If you want all the goodness of whole grains but don’t have much time to cook: Choose whole grains that cook quickly such as amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, quinoa, millet, teff, whole wheat couscous, and brown Kalijira or “baby basmati” rice.

Soak larger, long-cooking grains overnight for a softer texture in less cooking time. Asbell recommends soaking whole oats, hulled barley, whole wheat farro, kamut, and rye. If you wish, you can also soak short or long-grain brown rice, black and red rice.

Invest in one of today’s user-friendly pressure cookers, very popular in Europe, to shave time off cooking larger whole grains, perfect for easy salads, side dishes, or summer’s light entrees.

###

Carol Guild 5/13/08 Box

DID YOU KNOW?

Until the last century grains were commonly eaten as whole grains.

Whole grains may be eaten whole, cracked, split, flaked, or ground.

The color of a food does not determine whole grain.

The health advantages of whole grains are largely associated with consuming the entire whole grain “package”.

The array of nutrients and other components in whole grains are believed to have an additive and synergistic effect on health.

From: Whole Grains Fact Sheet, International Food Information Council, 2007.

Recipes:

African Millet Salad with Corn and Peppers (photo, book’s front cover)

The brilliant golden millet in this flavorful and nutritious salad can be replaced with quicker-

cooking whole wheat couscous, or even rice.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, julienned (about 1 ? cups)

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

2 tablespoons minced ginger

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

1 cup millet

1 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 8-ounce can “extra crunchy” corn, drained

(or 1 cup cooked “extra crunchy” corn, frozen or fresh)

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

1 whole Roma tomato, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

In a 2-quart saucepan, with a tight-fitting lid, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then sauté the onion over medium heat until very golden and soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute, then add the paprika, black pepper, allspice, and cayenne and cook for a minute more.

Wash the millet quickly and drain. Add the millet to the pan and stir, coating the grains and cooking until hot to the touch. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover. Simmer on low for 20 minutes before checking for doneness. When all the liquid is absorbed and the grain is tender, cover and take the pan off the heat for 10 minutes to steam.

Scrape the cooked millet into a bowl and cover, then let cool.

Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil with the lemon juice and brown sugar in a small bowl. Stir the corn, bell pepper, tomato, and parsley into the cooled millet mixture, then drizzle the dressing over it and stir to coat. Serve topped with peanuts. Serves 8.

Crunchy Farro Salad with Artichokes, Red Bell Peppers, and Edamame

If you can’t get farro or spelt berries, hulled barley or whole oats will also work in this recipe.

1 cup farro or spelt berries

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

1 sprig rosemary

1/2 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt, divided, or to taste

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 ounces fresh basil (1 1/2 cups leaves)

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

12 baby artichokes or one 13-ounce jar artichoke bottoms, drained

1/2 large lemon (if using fresh artichokes)

1 small red bell pepper, sliced


Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User