Introducing New Grains to Your Family

I think that most of us can agree that white rice is pretty yummy.  But how do we balance that with the fact that it is nowhere near the powerhouse of nutrition that whole grains are (e.g. brown rice, quinoa, bulgur wheat, and millet)?  These whole grains are not only a good source of dietary fiber, but also contain important vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.  All of these components work together synergistically to produce health benefits, which is why it is important to consume grains as a whole food rather than as a stripped version of themselves like white rice.  There are many wonderful grains out there to try, and I think I have figured out a good way to try them, while still being excited about what’s for dinner and tricking my kids into eating them as well.  It is as simple as this–cook them with white rice.  I would start out with a 1:1 ratio, and then you can lessen the amount of white rice as you become more accustomed to the tastes of the other grains.

In this picture, I cooked 1 cup white rice, 1/2 cup quinoa, and 1/2 cup bulgur wheat (totaling 2 cups).  Normally when you cook 1 cup of white rice, you add 1 and 1/4 cup water.  But when you cook a whole grain the ratio is usually more one part grain to two parts water.  So in this case, you will want to add around 3 cups of water — a little less if you are using a rice cooker and a little more if you are using the stove.  I was so impressed with how much my kids liked this that I thought I should share the trick just in case it would be helpful to you or your family.

About Quinoa: (1/4 C dried = 170 calories, 3 g fat, 30 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 5 g protein, 10% Iron)
Pronounced keen-wah and used by the ancient Incas, quinoa is known for its high protein, soft texture, and nutty taste. Some quinoa has to be presoaked or at least rinsed; simply refer to your directions (you may have to buy a wire strainer so you do not lose any of the small seeds through holes while rinsing). You will know it is done when the germ has separated to show a tiny curl.

About Bulgur: (1/4 C dried = 140 calories, 0.5 g fat, 30 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 5 g protein, 6% Iron)
You can buy it in bulk at certain stores or from ‘Bob’s Red Mill’ near the rice or in the health food section. It looks like a broken-up wheat berry, and it is basically just that. However bulgur is usually parboiled (which basically means blanched), dried, and then ground. You can see it has a very impressive amount of fiber and protein.

About White Rice (California Calrose): (1/4 C dried = 155 calories, 0 g fat, 35 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 3 g protein, 2% Iron)
White rice is milled rice that has its husk, bran, and germ removed (to help prevent spoilage) and is then polished, resulting in a shiny appearance. This process removes so many important nutrients that the US actually requires the enrichment of all white rice with B1, B3, and iron. The California Calrose variety is known for its taste and ability to stick together and can be used for sushi.


3 Comments to “Introducing New Grains to Your Family”

  1. Love this post! Since I found out that I’m gluten intolerant just a few months ago a whole new world of grains has been opened to us! Who knew there were so many out there?! I was wondering about the process of cooking whole grains with white rice so thanks so much for the info! We really like brown sticky (short grain) rice at our house. It seems easier to get used to than regular brown rice so that’s a good one to try. Costco sells a 12lb bag or organic no genetically modified brown sticky rice for a really great price too! We love it. I’ll have to try cooking half white sticky rice and half brown sticky rice sometime now that I know how-thanks!

  2. Yo! I had some quinoa that I have been meaning to cook and this was a great idea to test it out. I tried cooking it w/ some rice and no one could taste a difference. Great idea!

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