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| Home Food & Nutrition The Organized Cook Grains Guideline
The Organized CookGrains Guideline
Know your oats? If not, learn more about the variety of oats, what they're used for and how they can turn any meal into something special - and healthy.
Choosing the right grain can be challenging as information is not always readily available. The following guide will help you recognize the characteristics of each grain so that you can make your selection adequately.
Pear Barley is a de-husked barley grain from which the outer bran and fiber have been removed. It is referred to as “pearled” because only a small, round, white “pearl” of starchy endosperm remains. Cook it like you would with pasta, it adds a nutty flavor and a great texture to soups and stews. It will triple in size when fully cooked.
Whole Oat Groat
Whole oats are unprocessed whole kernels that have been cleaned and dried and that retain the beneficial bran and germ. You can add whole oats to other grains for extra texture. Whole oat grains with the hull removed take about 50 minutes to cook.
Buck Wheat Groat
Buck Wheat Groats are buckwheat kernels that have been stripped of their inedible outer coating and then crushed into smaller pieces. Buckwheat is thought of as a cereal, but is actually an herb of the buckwheat family, called Polygonaceae. Buckwheat is loaded with nutrients, especially protein, and has a nutty, earthy flavor. It is most commonly ground into dark, gritty flour and used to make everything from pancakes to soba noodles. Unprocessed white groats are slightly bitter. To remove the bitterness, toast them in oil for several minutes until they are rust colored.
In the United States, couscous is known as a bead-shaped pasta made from durum wheat and water. In most others countries, it is treated more like a grain in its own right. The best way to cook it is to add equal amounts of boiling water or stock and couscous, salt, pepper and butter. Mix with a fork and cover with plastic wrap for 5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork to release the steam.
Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain. It’s a complete grain, which means it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need but can’t make on their own. Quinoa is a small, light-colored, round grain similar in appearance to sesame seeds. It cooks in about 10-12 minutes, creating a light, fluffy, rich dish with a nutty flavor. It can also be incorporated into soups, salads and baked goods. Most quinoa must be rinsed before cooking to remove the bitter residue of saponins, a plant substance that wards off insects.
Often confused with cracked wheat, bulgur differs in that it has been pre-cooked and so requires a minimal amount of cooking. Bulgur wheat’s kernels have been boiled, dried, cracked and then sorted by size. The result is a nutritious, versatile golden color wheat product with a pleasant nutty flavor. Bulgur has more fiber than quinoa, oats, millet or corn product.
Steel Cut Oats
Whole Oat groats have been chopped into small pieces. They make a delicious hot cereal in the tradition of cream of wheat or rice but are nuttier, more flavorful and retain a chewier texture than rolled oats. Like most whole grains, however, they take a while too cook so you have to plan ahead.
Cornmeal is a staple food in many parts of the world. It is made maize (corn) that is dried and ground. It is usually found in 3 textures: fine, medium and coarse. Most of the cornmeal sold at the grocery store is yellow or white, but you can also find blue cornmeal.
Millet is a small yellow grain, rich in protein and comes in many varieties. It can be boiled or ground into flour. It lends texture to breads, puddings and cakes. Millet flour is nutritious but low in gluten. Use it as you would with rice or couscous.