It’s January. The holidays are over and every magazine you pick up has an article about goals or diets or exercise. If you’re like me, you read most of those articles and think, “Yeah, right.” We decided to share two simple ideas to add more whole grains to your diet that are so simple it feels like you didn’t change anything. You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, right.”
Everyone needs more whole grains, right? Yes, but you need them more than gluten eaters. Gluten free flours are not fortified with B vitamins like wheat flour. GF diets tend to be low in fiber as well. Whole grains have lots of both of these nutrients plus important minerals. There are many good gluten free grains, but you may not be sure how to incorporate them into your diet. Below is a list of possibilities. Pick one that seems doable and try one of the suggestions below.
Oatmeal (be sure to buy gluten free oats)
Other non-white rice such as black, red or Wehani
Buckwheat (not wheat)
Easy trick #1- Mix 1 to 1 with White Rice and Cook in the Rice Cooker
This is a trick I used to get my children to eat more whole grains and it worked beautifully for the whole family. When cooking rice, add half the total desired volume in another grain. Small, quick cooking grains can be mixed directly with the white rice and cooked together in the rice cooker because they have similar water and time requirements. Check the table below. For longer cooking grains like brown rice or sorghum, add the whole grain to the rice cooker first and run it through a cycle, then add white rice and cook both together as you would white rice.
For example, with brown rice, add 2 rice cooker cups of brown rice to your cooker and water up to the 2 cup line then push start. When the cooker switches to keep warm, add another 2 cups of white rice and add water to the 4 cup line and run it again. Both grains come out nice and fluffy and there are no complaints from my children. When cooking grains like quinoa that are small and cook quickly, mix 1 part white rice and one part other grain and run the cycle as usual.
Grain Grain to Water Stove Top Cook Time
Amaranth 1:3 8 Minutes
Millet 1:2 16 Minutes
Quinoa 1:2 18 Minutes
Brown Rice 1:2 45 Minutes
White Rice 1:2 20 Minutes
Hulled Buckwheat 1:3 22 Minutes
Teff 1:4 6 Minutes
Easy Trick #2 Have Cooked Grains on Hand in the Fridge or Freezer
Studies show that people eat what they have around and can see. Most whole grains can be cooked in your rice cooker then stored in the fridge or freezer. Cook up a small batch and refrigerate it near the front where you see it when you open the door. Then pull it out and warm it in the microwave for breakfast. Try it with a little butter (or substitute) and a sprinkle of salt or some butter, sugar and cinnamon. A whole grain breakfast keeps you full longer, and you can definitely feel good about that.
With precooked grain at your fingertips you can try adding grains as a meat extender in main dishes. If you are making a dish that uses ground meat, replace half the meat with cooked grain. It adds texture and nutrition while reducing the cost of your meal. Add grains to a favorite stir fry dishes or soup. Cooked whole grains are also a nice addition to salads.
Grains can be added to almost anything, so have fun experimenting. Start with one simple thing that fits well with your current cooking style. Start asking yourself at every meal, “Could I add grain to this?” and you will be well on your way to a better diet.