Starting with the basics: whole grains

Starting with the basics: whole grains

By Kirsten Lovan

The basics are the place to start when trying to incorporate whole foods into the diet.  Heidi Swanson has a beautiful cookbook, packed with useful information about whole foods, titled Super Natural Cooking. You may also want to check out her website.

I have found that an easy way to incorporate whole grains into my diet is by using them as a main course.  Combining whole grains with other nuts and seeds or legumes makes a complete protein, thus cutting down on the amount of meat we consume.  Whole grains are a powerhouse of health promoting nutrients. They are high in protein, phyto-nutrients, vitamins and healthy fats.  Quinoa, wheat berries, millet, and barley are some of our family’s favorites.  Whole grains are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased in the bulk bins, which means you can buy as much or as little as you need.  At home we store our grains in mason jars in the refrigerator to ensure that the oils don’t become rancid.

We also are beginning the practice of soaking and fermenting our grains before we cook and consume them, making them easier to digest.  I will talk more about this process in detail in an upcoming post.

A recipe that we use at home is one that can be made as a side dish to a meal and then what is left over can be saved and eaten hot or cold the following day.

Wheat Berry Salad

With citrus, almonds, feta and spinach

2 cups soft wheat berries, rinsed

6 cups water

2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt,

plus more as needed

Combine wheat berries, water and 2 teaspoons salt in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, covered, until plump and chewy, about an hour or so.  Drain and season to taste with more salt.

Citrus Dressing:

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Tablespoon of finely chopped shallot

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

fine-grain sea salt and black pepper to taste

Combine orange zest and juice, lemon juice and shallot.  Whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

3 generous handfuls of fresh spinach

1 cup of sliced almonds

(The original recipe calls for toasted pine nuts, but to save time and money sliced almonds are a yummy alternative)

½ cup of crumbled feta cheese

Toss the hot wheat berries with the spinach, almonds and dressing, the top with feta.

This recipe serves 4-6 people.

(recipe copied from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson)

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