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Thread: Let's talk about grains!

  1. #1
    fluid, affectionate, chaste, mature Mackerel's Avatar
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    Let's talk about grains!

    By now everyone knows that experts increasingly frown upon excess consumption of refined starches such as bread, pasta, and white rice. According to the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, refined starches behave much like sugar--they add empty calories, have adverse metabolic effects, and increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. I've been trying to be more and more mindful of this by trying out healthier (but still tasty) alternatives.

    Sure, you can eat wheat bread and wheat pasta, but my local hippy dippy organic grocery place that I've been loving lately carries a variety of interesting-looking whole grains, so I thought I would give a couple of them a try. the results so far have been awesome. my reviews:

    Quinoa



    the grains are tiny, as you can see, and it's much lighter than, say, rice or barley. they come in two varieties--red or white--and the picture i ganked shows them mixed together, which is my favorite way of preparing it. stock, salt and pepper, garlic, and some sliced sauteed vegetables really brings out the flavor. cooks in 15 minutes. bonus for vegetarians: this grain has unusually high protein content for a grain and is one of the few plant foods that naturally contain enough amino acids to make it a complete protein source for humans.

    Amaranth



    I've only made this twice so far, but wow, I love it. The texture is very very fine, a little like polenta only even finer than that, and the flavor is.... smoky? earthy? very unusual. I know people sometimes like to use it as a morning cereal and add sweet things in it like blueberries. if anyone ever tries it report your results back in this thread bc I'm curious. I like to toss in mushrooms, scallions, and a dab of soy sauce, and serve it with wilted bok choy and chili garlic fish. yumm.

    Oatmeal



    OK I know I've lost many of you already with that picture but hear me out. Oatmeal is a neutral-tasting grain and isn't necessarily made to go with sweet things. It contains more B vitamins than other kinds of grain, lowers blood cholesterol, is a popular staple in athletes' diets, yadda yadda, so it seems like a shame to exile it to breakfast.

    I was dubious of savory oatmeal at first but I tried it once and i'm never eating sweet oatmeal again. Add whatever sauteed veggies you want to it--scallions, mushrooms, shredded carrots, zucchini, diced bell pepper, whatever--and add garlic, salt, pepper, stock, chili sauce, or soy sauce, or Worcestershire sauce, or a little red wine vinegar, lemon juice, whatever you want it to taste like. I like to put a poached egg right on top--the silkiness of the yolk and egg go perfectly with the texture of the oatmeal.

    I should also add that one of my new favorite things is to combine oatmeal, quinoa, amaranth, and brown rice into a giant grain mash and put veggies in it. The different textures of the grains make this amazing, and it's a quick meal if you make all of this in advance.

    Anyway, there are a million grains i haven't gotten around to yet--millet, teff, buckwheat, spelt. If you've tried any of these, post your review here! And post your grain recipes too.

  2. #2
    Aprs moi le deluge SisterDew's Avatar
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    from the ones you have posted i only tried quinoa so far, which i love! it has a distinctive taste, kind of nutty, which makes that i have no problem eating it plain with a bit of grilled chicken or fish (and a salad for my veg intake), while i would never consider eating plain pasta or rice.

    i have never tried (or even heard of) amaranth before, but your description makes me curious. unfortunately i do not think i can buy it anywhere here...

    another favourite of mine is bulgur. when it is nice summer weather (unfortunately not the case this year...) i like making a tabouleh-style salad out of it, with some vegatables, feta cheese and mint & parsley.

  3. #3
    flayed on the marble stairs
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    I've been eating kasha (buckwheat) for as long as I can remember, since it's a part of Russian and Eastern European cuisine, but I never really took its nutritional benefits into consideration; it was just what we ate. I eat kasha without milk as a sort of replacement for rice, but you can add hot milk to make a sort of breakfast cereal. It's not sweet, but it's tasty nonetheless. I actually rarely eat rice, and if I do, it's brown. I just grew up avoiding refined starches and sugars. Things like white bread just don't taste right to me now. I do realize that it's very hard to avoid refined starches. I shop at Whole Foods, which helps to ward off things like high fructose syrup, but I still have to be wary of what I buy.

    Like you said, oatmeal doesn't have to be sweet, and it's really strange to see all these instant oatmeal blends with so much sugar in them. I eat it plain often, and if I want some flavor, I just add a splash of 100% orange juice to it. I've never tried oatmeal in a savory dish before, though! That sounds quite interesting. I think I might try it.

  4. #4
    I'm a creep I'm a weirdo
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    I love grains! Here is a recipe I make fairly often:
    Black Bean, Edamame and Wheat Berry Salad

    It's super easy, and I usually double the recipe and eat on it for a week (it gets better as the flavors meld). It's very colorful, has great texture (crunchy soybeans, chewy wheat kernels) and a variety of nutrients.

    I don't have any recipes for quinoa. I usually just cook it in some veggie stock and mix in some sauteed onions, zucchini, mushrooms, etc. I've also made it once or twice as a breakfast dish, cooking it in vanilla-flavored almond or soy milk and adding cinnamon and chopped walnuts or pecans.

    I bought some amaranth and whole (steel-cut) oats but haven't used either yet. I'm particularly intrigued by your description of the amaranth.

    ETA: I love tabbouleh and want to start making it myself, especially since I found out how nutritious parsley is.

  5. #5
    she might not be so bold fullofwish's Avatar
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    Quinoa is one of my favourite grains, and I got onto it when my one of my ex's nieces was diagnosed as diabetic and we tried a load of new recipes for her. I have an amazing recipe for quinoa (which always gets requested for family pot-luck dinners now), which has a very middle eastern flavour with toasted almonds and sultanas. I'll dig it out later tonight and post it.

  6. #6
    I love quinoa but it's too expensive for me just now. Oatmeal is brill-i-ant! Always wanted to use it in more savoury dishes.

    Otherwise it's rice and pasta and potatoes for me. And recently it's been WHITE rice and pasta. I am going to die. In all honesty it's sort of refreshing to have white stuff again. Ideally I'll achieve some balance, but I spent a long time going Goop neurotic and eating NO WHITE THINGS, ONLY QUINOA AND BROWN RICE and I ended up in a really bad place. (I love the taste of brown rice but it makes my stomach feel like a black hole and wholewheat apparently ruins my SO's insides for the evening - ARGH)

    I'm also big on couscous and bulgar though. I have buckwheat in my cupboard too, unused, and I've been making a lot of lentil/split pea daals recently.

  7. #7
    fluid, affectionate, chaste, mature Mackerel's Avatar
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    ^refined carbs and I have had a passionate, steamy relationship for decades, so all this scientific data initially made me a sad sad carhole. SO and I have had many lively discussions about the nutritional merits of pasta. while it's true that his family has been eating it for generations, they were also menial laborers living on a steep hill in Sicily from which they made daily strenuous climbs down just to get water. But I remind myself often that it's not so much about militantly cutting things out and more about diversifying my diet and opening myself up to trying new healthy foods (and without getting into too many details, it's especially imperative to have a relaxed attitude about it if you have a.... history of going too much the other day. I am mindful of this too for myself). I am eating a little pasta today for lunch, for example, and I feel no shame.

  8. #8
    Yeah, exactly.

    Also, I couldn't give up white rice because THE TAHDIG JUST WOULDN'T BE THE SAME AND ALBALOO POLO WOULD SUCK.

    Anyway, I'm going to try savoury porridge tonight with my dinner. Do you cook the porridge and the veg separately, or do you cook the oats and the veg together in the same pot? I am excited. I've tried it before, but that was just with onions and spices on its own, not to accompany a bigger meal.

  9. #9
    fluid, affectionate, chaste, mature Mackerel's Avatar
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    I cook the veg separately since it cooks much faster than the oats and mix it in at the last minute. sometimes I like to put a dash of Worcestershire sauce in with the sauteed veggies for some kick. Be generous with the veg and spices. the picture above with the feta cheese really intrigues me - maybe I'll put some cheese in it next time just to see.

  10. #10
    she might not be so bold fullofwish's Avatar
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    OK, here is my quinoa recipe.

    Quinoa Salad


    Nomnomnom!

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Carhole View Post
    I cook the veg separately since it cooks much faster than the oats and mix it in at the last minute. sometimes I like to put a dash of Worcestershire sauce in with the sauteed veggies for some kick. Be generous with the veg and spices. the picture above with the feta cheese really intrigues me - maybe I'll put some cheese in it next time just to see.
    Okay, WHAT THE HELL.

    This was so delicious and weird and delicious and wrong and right, my brain exploded. I overdid the stir fried veg and ended up with a big ole heap of it on top of my oatmeal, but it was good shit. The spice of the veg also mixed well with the creaminess of the oatmeal to create a similar taste and mouthfeel to creamy bad-for-you curries except without all the sat fat. And I cooked the oats with ghormeh sabzi herbs, generally used as part of a stew, but I chuck them in with rice sometimes.

    I might even be giving a repeat performance tonight.

  12. #12
    A Matter Of How You See It Kala's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cracked polystyrene man View Post
    I love grains! Here is a recipe I make fairly often:
    Black Bean, Edamame and Wheat Berry Salad

    It's super easy, and I usually double the recipe and eat on it for a week (it gets better as the flavors meld). It's very colorful, has great texture (crunchy soybeans, chewy wheat kernels) and a variety of nutrients.
    This sounds delicious. We are going to try it.

  13. #13
    I'm a creep I'm a weirdo
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    Oh, cool! Let me know what you think. I'm going shopping tomorrow to get stuff to make it, as well as the quinoa salad fullofwish posted.

  14. #14
    fluid, affectionate, chaste, mature Mackerel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milhaus View Post
    Okay, WHAT THE HELL.

    This was so delicious and weird and delicious and wrong and right, my brain exploded.
    it felt so wrong! it felt so right!



    i'm glad you liked it!! yay! i just had it the other day with Asian seasonings and scallions and a fried egg on top. OM NOM. I didn't even think about incorporating curry-like spices into oatmeal but now that you mention it it makes perfect sense. I found a couple of recipes with madras curry powder and chopped onions even! I might try this myself.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by fullofwish View Post
    OK, here is my quinoa recipe.

    Quinoa Salad


    Nomnomnom!
    Just made this dish tonight. It's very good, and I imagine it'll be better after it sits overnight and the flavors combine. I substituted vegetable broth and did not use the mint (not crazy about mint and didn't feel like spending the $2 for a bunch that I knew would go mostly to waste). I'll have to double the recipe next time since I'm already eating my second serving (it made a total of four cups and I calculated per cup is ~275 cals, 9g protein, 9g fat [mostly unsaturated]). Thanks!

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