Do you know how to properly cook whole grains? Whole grains are super nutritious and should be a part of your daily meal plan.
Whole grains are a very versatile food. They are great for rounding out a vegan meal. You can incorporate whole grains into any meal you want. You can add them to salads, stir fries, veggie bowls, use them as flours, add to desserts for a health kick, there are just so many options.
Whole grains will keep you feeling full for a longer period time than not including them in your meal. Whole grains are usually high in fiber, low in fat, and have high amounts of protein. Want to check out the grains with the highest amounts of protein? Check out this post: The best plant based protein sources.
Below I have listed seven grains you should be including in your meal plans. I give you direction on how to cook whole grains, what to use these grains with, and a recipe for each type of grain to get you started in using more whole grains.
Take a look at some of my favorite grains to cook with.
1 cup rice
1.5 cups water
Bring water to a boil. Once boiling add rice, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes. Let sit 15 minutes with heat off. Fluff with fork and serve.
Brown rice is a great make ahead rice that stores well in fridge for the week. I like to prep a large bowl of rice to use throughout the week. I use it as a base in my stir fries, I add it to burritos and wraps, I throw it into soups, make bean and veggie bowls with it, and love brown rice just plain with a little lemon juice squeezed on top.
Here is a recipe for brown rice: Brown rice and lentil tacos by melaniemakes.com
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
Bring water to a boil. Add quinoa to boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Fluff and serve.
Yes, quinoa isn’t technically a grain and shouldn’t be on here, but most of us use it like it is a grain and with its high protein count, it fits in well with grains. This is another one that I prep a bowl of and store in the fridge. Quinoa has a slightly nutty taste so it tastes great in savory dishes but also does so well in light dishes. One of my favorite things to do with quinoa is to add it to soups. Another really good option is to add it to salads. Since quinoa isn’t super dense, it holds up well with lettuce and doesn’t take over the dish.
Here is my favorite quinoa salad recipe with a Greek twist:
1/2 cup quinoa cooked
6 cherry tomatoes halved
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
2 cups romaine lettuce
1/4 cup chickpeas
1 tbsp Greek dressing
Top lettuce with produce, beans, and quinoa. Then drizzle with Greek dressing.
1 cup Millet
2 cups water
Bring water to a boil. Add millet to boiling water. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes or until water is absorbed.
Millet might be a grain that you are not familiar with yet. It is an ancient grain and is gluten free. The grains are smaller and do really well mixed in with some herbs and veggies. Millet can be creamy or chewy depending on how you serve it. Millet is great for making cereal or porridge. I like to use it as a morning grain to get my day started off right.
Try this recipe if you are new to millet. Lemony Millet Salad from foodmatters.com
2 cups oats
3 ¼ cup water
Bring water to a boil. Stir in oats, reduce heat and simmer uncovered. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Oats have long had a reputation as a breakfast food. Oats can actually go a lot further. One of my favorite things to do with oats right now is to use oats as flour. Oat flour is super simple to make, you just blend dry oats in a blender until smooth.
I also like to add oats to veggie burgers, to desserts, mix oats with some broccoli or peas, eat them like a breakfast cereal with some fresh fruit, or the new popular way of making overnight oats with almond milk.
Here is a recipe to get you started. Three ingredient chocolate cookies by listotic.com
½ cup amaranth
1 ½ cup water
Place water and amaranth in pot. Bring both to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
Amaranth is another great option if you are gluten free. It is a pseudo cereal as in it isn’t a true grain, but since it’s nutrient profile is so similar to whole grains, it is put into the same category. Amaranth is high in protein so it is popular as a morning cereal, but it also is great blended into a flour. Amaranth is actually a popular gluten free flour.
You can use amaranth similar to millet. It is creamy or chewy depending on the liquid used and cooking technique.
Here is a great way to use amaranth. Amaranth green onion fritters by powerhungry.com
1 cup spelt, best is soaked overnight
3 cups water
Bring water to a boil. Add spelt to boiling water. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 40-60 minutes, until desired texture.
Spelt is another ancient grain that is similar to wheat. Spelt works well as a grain in salads, served warm as a side dish with some herbs and spices mixed in, or as a flour alternative.
My favorite spelt recipe: Whole grain spelt waffles by theprettybee.com
1 cup bulgur
2 cups water
Bring water and bulgur to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 12-15 minutes. Drain off excess liquid.
Bulgur is wheat that has been cracked and partially pre-cooked. Bulgur can be used just like rice or quinoa. If you need to shake up your grains and try something new, bulgur is a great option. It is high in fiber, low in fat, and high in protein.
My favorite way to use bulgur is in tabbouleh salad of course. Tabbouleh salad by themediterraneandish.com