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8 Essential Grains to Work into Your Diet

August 21, 2012 Le Cordon Bleu Seattle 0 Comments

8 Essential Grains to Work into Your Diet

Grains make up a substantial part of the human diet but unfortunately for most people the only grains consumed are white rice, instant oatmeal and refined white flour products. There is an entire world of healthy grains out there waiting to be discovered and regardless of your taste or the time of day, there is a nutritious grain that you can incorporate into your next meal. Whole grains are essential to the health of your heart and your digestive systems and a diet high in whole grains will reduce the risk of heart disease as well as many types of cancer. If you are unsure how to get started here are 8 essential grains that you can try at home or order the next time you are out to dinner and enjoying the tastes of the Seattle culinary world.

Barley
Barley is known for its nutty flavor and satisfyingly chewy texture. Rich in fiber, selenium, phosphorus, copper and magnesium, adding barley to your diet will promote colon and intestinal health. Although barley is most often tossed in salads or added to soups it can also be eaten in the morning as a substitute for oatmeal or added to any muffin or bread recipe when in flour form.

Oatmeal
This popular grain is extremely hardy and able to grow even in poor soil. High in fiber beta glucan one bowl of oatmeal eaten everyday can lower your cholesterol 8-24% and reduce your risk of type II diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Rich in antioxidants oatmeal also can improve your immune system. Oatmeal is easy to incorporate into your diet; it can be added to any cookie recipe, add fruit and nuts to shake up an oatmeal breakfast, or use as a base for stuffing.

Millet
This darling of the culinary arts is a tiny round grain that comes in many different varieties. It can be mashed into a creamy texture or fluffed into a rice-like substance. Couscous was originally made from millet and while most countries have switched to wheat there are still many places where millet couscous is still made. Rich in manganese, phosphorus and magnesium, eating millet can aid in cell repair and development, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and help ward off asthma attacks and migraines. To serve millet at home try making a creamy breakfast porridge to start your day or serve millet as a substitute for rice and for an easy dinner toss millet with chicken and vegetable and toss in a sweet chili sauce.

Rye
A popular choice in delis the world over, rye has a rich hearty taste that lends itself well to meat and cheese sandwiches. This grain is an excellent source of fiber which can reduce the risk of diabetes, promote weight loss by promoting fullness and satiety and improve digestive health. Rye can make a tasty and complex breakfast cereal or try adding its flour to your favorite pancake recipe and of course rye and pumpernickel breads make a great option for toast or sandwiches.

Quinoa
Fluffy, slightly crunchy textures with a complex nutty flavor, quinoa is a source of complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids as well as manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. It can be added to soups or stews and noodles made of quinoa are a great substitute to traditional wheat pastas. Sprouted quinoa can be added to salads and sandwiches as an alternative to alfalfa sprouts.

Brown Rice
A favorite ingredient for many Seattle culinary aficionados brown rice is 70-90% higher in B vitamins than its white variety making it one of the world’s healthiest grains. Brown rice is also rich in dietary fiber, fatty acids, manganese, selenium and magnesium and can help promote sustained energy with its complex carbohydrates and protein. To add more rice to your diet try making a rice pudding for dessert, learn how to make homemade sushi rolls or save cold rice to toss in with your favorite salads.

Kamut
With high levels of protein and vitamin E kamut can be used in place of wheat in virtually any recipe. Although lower in fiber kamut has substantially more protein, thiamine and riboflavin than wheat flour and is commonly tolerated well by those with wheat allergies.

Flax
Flax seeds are rich in the essential fatty acid alpa linolenic acid, protein, vitamins E and B6, calcium, fiber and potassium. These little seeds pack a nutritional punch that can reduce the symptoms of arthritis, lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.Flax seeds can be tossed into salads or they can be ground into a meal that can be eaten as porridge, mixed into smoothies or added to virtually any baked good.
While it may seem intimidating at first there is no better way to spice up your love of the culinary arts then to introduce new grains into your diet. With such an abundance of flavors and textures to choose from you will find that from breakfast to dessert swapping out processed foods for whole grains will not only improve your health but improve some of your favorite recipes as well.

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle offers culinary arts and pâtisserie and baking training programs in the Seattle, Washington area. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Seattle for more information. 

Find disclosures on graduation rates, student financial obligations and more at www.chefs.edu/disclosures.  
Le Cordon Bleu® and the Le Cordon Bleu logo are registered trademarks of Career Education Corporation. Le Cordon Bleu cannot guarantee employment or salary. Credits earned are unlikely to transfer.

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