Let's continue the kitchen hack fun, shall we?
I want to shift the spotlight to whole grains. If you're looking for a great way to boost your nutrient consumption while reducing your risk of chronic disease, whole grains are a fantastic resource. After all, according to MyPlate, "Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including dietary fiber, several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate), and minerals (iron, magnesium, and selenium). Dietary fiber from whole grains or other foods, may help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes."
Of course, because whole grains contain the entire grain, they often take longer to cook than refined grains. That can make it tough to incorporate them into meals on busy nights. Luckily, there are some fast-cooking options that are great to keep on hand for a speedy dinner side.
Converted Brown Rice: This rice cooks much more quickly than traditional brown rice. Also known as parboiled brown rice, converted brown rice has been soaked and steamed or boiled before being packaged, which dramatically reduces its cooking time once it makes its way into your kitchen. Its nutty flavor and the fact that it's still a whole grain combine to make converted brown rice a real winner for any meal.
Couscous: Did you know that you can get whole grain couscous? This variety of the pillowy grain-shaped pasta is derived from durum wheat flour rather than semolina, which means that it is higher in protein and fiber than its refined grain counterparts. Whole wheat couscous is also low in fat and cholesterol. Since the whole wheat variety is so small, you can cook it simply by soaking it for a minute or two in boiling water. How easy is that?
Quinoa: Quinoa cooks much more quickly than most other whole grains, and its nutrient profile can't be beat. Rich in protein, fiber, and B vitamins, quinoa is a fantastic whole grain choice that makes the perfect side dish or base for grain salads. Plus, quinoa is entirely gluten free!
All of these whole grains are excellent to keep in your pantry. They store well, cook quickly, are rich in flavor, and are versatile to boot! All of these aspects make them a perfect aspect of a healthy meal.
A Note About Presentation:
Your dishes will always look fancier if you place cooked grains in a mold and then arrange them on your plate instead of spooning them out to fall all over the place.
To arrange your grains with a mold, scoop them into a wet biscuit cutter, ramekin, or ½ cup measuring cup, then invert the mold onto the plate. The grains will slide right out. (You can also use nonstick spray instead of water).
Whole Grain Handout:
Here's a brand-new handout with today's kitchen hacks!
For more whole grain resources, don't miss these materials from the Nutrition Education Store!
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.