Whole Grains are gaining increasing popularity due to their high nutritional value, low Glycemic Index and economic value. From a Traditional Chinese Medical perspective, whole grains supply us with foundational level “Qi” (energy) which helps us in all categories of health and life; grains sustain us.
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend
at least 50% of our daily grain consumption come
from whole grains. However, many of the products
on market shelves labeled “Whole Grain” have little
true whole grain value.
A whole grain is made of three
layers – the bran, germ and endosperm. In order
for a product to be a true whole grain product,
it must include the grain in its natural form (meaning
all three layers of the grain are intact) or equal
proportions of each part of the grain (for example:
1/3 bran, 1/3 germ, 1/3 endosperm of the same grain).
The best way to ensure you are
consuming whole grains is to cook the actual grain.
means buying a grain in its natural, unprocessed
form. There are many to choose from. Some examples
include: brown rice, quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”),
millet, amaranth, barley, oats or kamut (pronounced
Many whole grains are delicious
as side dishes or in place of your rice and pasta.
millet and medium brown rice can be used as binders
in meatloaf or meatballs instead of bread crumbs.
As Americans, however, we have
little exposure to whole grains and even less experience
with them! As a result, we are often daunted by
purchasing whole grains, no less incorporating
them into our daily routine. Cooking grains in
their natural form is quite easy, just a little
time consuming. A helpful hint when cooking grains
is that most absorb the flavors they are cooked
with or in. Even if you don’t like the flavor of
the plain grain, the consistency is what matters;
if you like the consistency of the grain, and not
the flavor, combine it with your favorite foods
So, if it is so easy, how do you
cook them? It’s simple…with water. All grains must
be rinsed before
cooking. After rinsing, boil, then simmer in water;
add a little salt, if desired. Each grain has a
different water-to-grain ratio and cooking times
vary from grain to grain.
To get you started, here are a
few examples: brown rice has a 2 ½:1 ratio,
meaning use 2 ½ cups
water for every one cup of rice and cook 50 minutes;
millet (no salt needed) 2:1, 2 cups water for every
one cup millet and cook 15 minutes; quinoa 2:1,
2 cups water for every one cup quinoa, cook 12
minutes; kamut (must be presoaked for 6-8 hrs.)
3:1, 3 cups water for every one cup kamut, cook
You can also cook them in vegetable
or chicken stock to add to or change their flavor.
any liquid can be used to cook grains.
Whole grains meet many of our
daily nutritional requirements, reduce the chance
of heart disease
and stroke, and help control blood sugar levels.
Yet whole grains are an almost non-existent
part of our diet. With so many benefits, it’s
taking the time to become acquainted with whole
grains and begin incorporating them into your
Chris Oliveri, Personal Chef and Jewel Sommerville,
Doctor of Acupuncture, at Holistic Health
Rhode Island (HHRI), offer cooking lessons,
and seminars on Whole Grains and other related
health topics. HHRI is located at 5835 Post
Road, Suite #113, East Greenwich, RI 02818;