How to Cook Whole Grains

healthy grains
This basic cooking lesson will teach you all about how to cook whole grains. Whole grains are low in fat and should be part of a healthy diet. White flour, white rice and pasta that isn't whole wheat are not considered whole grains. They, of course, are grains just not "whole". Wheat flour, brown rice and whole wheat pasta is the healthiest choice.

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Tips on How to Cook Whole Grains

  1. Saute or toast whole grain with chopped onion in 1 tablespoon oil before adding liquid. This tastes great with rice, see recipe below.
  2. Use broth or stock for your liquid when cooking.
  3. Use a large pot when cooking grains.
  4. When cooking grain, if it is still not tender and has ran out of liquid add a 1/4 Cup liquid or more. Continue to cook until tender.
  5. You can use a steamer to cook all types of whole grains.

Whole Grains include:

How to Cook Whole Grains- Pasta

Using a large pot, fill half to more than half of the pot with water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Once your water is boiling add a tablespoon of salt, do not add oil. Add pasta and stir to keep the noodles from sticking together. After 5 minutes taste test a noodle. Continue to watch closely. Most noodles take 7-10 minutes to cook. This is the best way to determine whether your pasta is done or not. Drain water off noodles when they are done and serve.

Try some easy pasta recipes.
variety of pasta

How to Cook Whole Grains- Barley

Bring water to boil in a large pot. Add barley and cook about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain. Barley can be made into a side dish, added to salads or soups.

Beef Barley Soup

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion chopped or pureed in blender
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 large can of tomatoes, pureed in blender
  • 4 Cups beef broth
  • 2/3 Cup barley, uncooked
Brown beef with onion. Season with salt and pepper and add oregano. Drain meat and add to a soup pan. Add pureed tomatoes, barley, and beef broth to pan. Cook until barley is tender. If desired add a bag of frozen vegetables 10-15 minutes before serving. Allow to cool and pour in freezer containers.
barley soup

How to Cook Whole Grains- Rice

I found out the hard way that brown rice is a little trickier to cook than white rice. That's because brown rice retains it outer layers after processing while white rice has both the germ and bran removed, leaving it easier to cook and fluffier after cooking but with less nutrients. Most of my family prefers white rice because it is fluffier and not as chewy as brown rice. However, I think both taste great.

To cook brown rice, begin by soaking one cup of brown rice in cold water. Drain and then put rice into a saucepan, cooking uncovered on medium heat for about three minutes. You can add 1/2 teaspoon of salt if desired. After dry cooking the brown rice, pour two and 1/2 cups of boiling water into the saucepan with the rice and let it attain a full boil.

Reduce heat, cover and cook until the rice has absorbed all of the water, a process generally taking 40 to 45 minutes. You don't need to stir the rice during this time.

After enough time has passed, remove the pan from the stove and let it sit with the lid still on for about 10 minutes. Use a fork to fluff the brown rice before serving.

When you are learning how to cook rice and brown rice, remember that one cup of rice will always need two cups of water to cook with being dry and sticky. white rice bowl

To cook white rice, add one cup of rice, one tablespoon of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to boiling water. Stir this mixture one time and then cover the pot. Once the rice is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed. Stir the rice occasionally but don't over-stir. This may cause the rice to take on a gummy, glutinous texture.

My favorite way to cook rice
In frying pan brown, 3 Cups of rice in 1 Tablespoon butter and 2 Tablespoons oil. Add in chopped onions or celery. Brown until rice is glassy looking. Add 3 Cups of water or chicken broth to the rice. Cover and cook 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

Try this best fried rice recipe with your cooked rice.

How to Cook Whole Grains - Quinoa

quinoa When learning how to cook quinoa, one very important thing I discovered was that one cup of quinoa will make three cups after boiling. This is because quinoa is a grain that readily absorbs water and expands to twice its size. In fact, the first time I made quinoa I did not know this bit of information and I ended up with enough quinoa for three recipes!

Before you cook quinoa, prepare it by first rinsing the grains to remove that fine, dusty residue you will notice it is covered with. Place the quinoa in a strainer and run water over the grains until water is clear. If you want quinoa to taste roasted, toast the grains in a skillet for five minutes before cooking.

When cooking quinoa, you can use a pot or a rice cooker. Place two parts water and one part quinoa in a pot of water and boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes. When the grains appear translucent and feel soft, they are done.

Quinoa can be incorporated in stews, soups, pilafs, bread, cookies, pancakes and bagels. Many people eat quinoa like oatmeal, enhancing it with nuts and fruit. A simple recipe for quinoa "oatmeal" includes cooked quinoa, chopped walnuts, chopped dried apricots, raisins, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and one cup of soy milk.

For a sweeter tasting quinoa breakfast meal, add one tablespoon of maple syrup or substitute sweetener.

Recipes calling for couscous or rice can use quinoa as a substitute without much alteration to the flavor or texture. You can also try mixing cooked quinoa with chili, vegetable dishes or burrito fillings for a unique, delicately nutty flavor. By learning how to cook quinoa you can also save on your food bill by using it as a filler in meat dishes.

Learn about buying Quinoa

How to Cook Whole Grains- Couscous

Learning how to cook couscous was easy to know since I already knew how to cook pasta. Couscous can be used as a substitute for pasta, although it is shaped differently and looks more like a pea.

To cook couscous as a separate dish, all you need is one cup of couscous, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and one and 1/4 cups of water. Boil the water and salt in a saucepan and then pour the water into a bowl. Add the couscous, stir well and cover the bowl with a towel. Let the couscous sit for about five minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and serve as a filler for a variety of dishes.

I have used couscous as a substitute for rice and macaroni, mixing it with melted cheddar cheese and butter. It tastes just as good and I don't feel as guilty eating a big bowl of it! Another delicious recipe is couscous chicken salad. Just add about two cups of cooked couscous to two, 12 ounce cans of drained chicken, flavor with cinnamon, salt, pepper, dried apricots and mandarin oranges.

Couscous may be one of the most versatile foods I have ever used. Once you know how to cook couscous, you can combine it with just about any kind of recipe, even desserts. For example, apple-cinnamon couscous is a delicious dessert easily made by using one cup of apple juice, two tablespoons of dried apples, two tablespoons of raisins, one teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 cup of couscous. Just boil all the ingredients except the couscous in a saucepan, remove the pan from the heat and then add the couscous. Let it sit for about five minutes before serving. For variety, use other juices or dried fruit with this recipe instead of the raisins and apples.

How to Cook Bulgur Wheat

It has many spellings but it is all the same wheat. Bulgur is commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking. It is most often used as a cereal food. Bulgur is harvested from a variety of wheat but mostly durum. It is different from other grains in that it is parboiled before it is packaged and sold. This makes it convenient for cooking. In prepared dishes, it only has to be reconstituted with water to be included. You can add it to uncooked dishes that require minimum cooking.

For those who are weary of grains and their flavors, bulgur has a nutty flavor. Soaking it in flavorful broth instead of water enhances its taste. If you haven’t cooked with bulgur before, you may recognize it as the main ingredient in tabbouleh salad. It is also added to muffins, soups and stuffing.

More Help on How to Cook Whole Grains

How to Cook Oatmeal
bowl of oatmeal

Learn how to make whole wheat bread.
loaf of white and wheat bread

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Related Basic Cooking Lesson Pages:
~ Basic Cooking Lessons, ~ Stock and soups, ~ 5 mother sauces, ~ Yeast and baking breads, ~ Herbs and spices, ~ Vegetables, ~ Dry beans, ~ Grains, ~ Eggs, ~ Different cooking methods, ~ Growing an herb garden, How to Cook Q&A

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