If you are wanting to incorporate more whole grains into your diet, but aren’t sure where to start, this blog post is for you. Let me teach you How To Cook Whole Grains in the simplest way possible! This post is all about COOKING whole grains, I will hit on baking in another post.
How Can You Use Cooked Whole Grains In Everyday Foods?
There are so many ways you can use hearty healthy whole grains more often. Let me share a few ways I love to use them.
Whole grains make really great breakfast porridge. If you are ready to mix up your traditional oatmeal, try other whole grains instead. Einkorn is my personal favorite, but there are many others as well.
One way to make your Buddha Bowls more healthy is to swap out that white rice for whole grain. Oat groats are a great gluten-free option for these. Rye, Kamut, white wheat, and einkorn are also really yummy.
Adding whole grains to your soups is also a good way to use them more often. Remember that they will take more time than your white rice or pasta, but it is worth it.
I also love to use it on my salads. Cooked grains are also in my fridge, so when I throw together a salad, I also throw on some whole grains as well. It makes it more filling.
I will include some of my favorite recipes for using whole grains below. You will definitely find something you are going to love.
What Is A Whole Grain?
First, let’s discuss the difference between whole, refined and enriched. You will see these terms thrown around a lot and most people do not know the difference.
Whole Grains- They are unrefined grains and haven’t had their bran and germ removed by milling; so, all of the nutrients remain intact.
Refined Grains-In contrast to whole grains, refined grains are milled, a process that strips out both the bran and germ to give them a finer texture and longer shelf life. These flours are chemically treated to produce these results. The refining process also removes many nutrients, including fiber. Examples are white flour and white rice.
Enriched Grains– Enriched means that some or many of the nutrients that are lost during processing are added back in later. There are a lot of white flours that are enriched.
Health Benefits Of Whole Grains
- They are high in fiber, which helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
- Helps lower the risk of stroke
- Helps to lower the risk of heart disease
- Complex carbohydrates in whole grains can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Phytochemicals and essential minerals found in whole grains may protect against some cancers.
- Need more reason to eat whole grains? Whole grains also help you feel more satiated, so you can feel satisfied with fewer calories.
If you are also interested in sprouting whole grains, I wrote a comprehensive article all about sprouting grains.
Examples Of Whole Grains
There are so many whole grains out there. Are you ready to be blown away?
Amaranth, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, corn, einkorn, farro/emmer, fonio, freekeh, Kamut, Kaniwa, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, rye, sorghum, spelt, teff, wheat, wild rice. For more details on each grain, check out the Whole Grains Council on whole grains.
Also, I realize several of those are pseudo-grains, but they are still generally grouped in the whole grain category.
While some people might think all grains are alike and taste/act alike, these thoughts could not be further from the truth.
Why To Buy Whole Grains?
I always suggest looking locally first. When we moved to Idaho, I found several farms in our state to purchase from and others in states nearby. If you cannot find any local, let me give you a few suggestions for purchasing online.
- Bluebird Grain Farms– I have ordered einkorn, rye, and farro from them. All products have been amazing.
- Azure Standard– This is where I buy a bilk of my grains now. They carry most grains at a decent price. Check your area for drop off locations.
- Barton Springs Mill– this is a fairly recent discovery for me. They grow some cool heritage grains that are a little harder to find. Their grains have been awesome so far.
- Einkorn Farm– This is a Idaho farm that I order most of my einkorn from. I love their grain!
- Farm Fresh Wheat– I have been using them excusively for my soft winter wheat for the last few years. This is the wheat I use for all my cookies, cakes, etc.
My Top 5 Favorite Grains For Cooking
I have tried just about every grain there is out there, let me share my favorites with you.
- Einkorn– This is by far my favorite grain to use for cooking. It is an ancient grain that is currently making a comeback and I am glad to see this happen. They actually think this was the first wheat known and used by man. It is a smaller grain, with a milder flavor. I use this often in my buddha bowls. It also serves really well anywhere you would use rice.
- Oat Groats– This is a gluten-free grain that is also a mild flavor. Oat groats are the whole oat. Most of us are used to eating quick, rolled, or steel-cut oats. I think that is what makes this grain so great, we are already used to the oat flavor.
- Farro– Just to be clear, farro actually identifies 3 grains depending on where you live- spelt, emmer, and farro. I love them all and they are all really great grains to use for cooking. These are all ancient grains as well.
- Kamut– Also known as Khorsan. It is another ancient grain. This grain is really long though, almost twice the length of your average wheat grain.
- Barley– This is a really common grain and chances are good you have used this one before. One of the things that make barley so unique it is adaptable to many climates. That means it can be grown just about anywhere and it is very easily accessible.
What Is The Quickest Way To Cook Grains?
I used to always cook my grains on the stove, making sure I planned ahead as it would take so long. Then a few years ago I discovered pressure cooking for my grains. You guys…it is so much easier!!
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, let me recommend the Instant Pot. I only have the 6-quart, we are only a family of 4, so it is perfect for us. This appliance has everything we need and this is not an advertisement. It is just the best!
Using the pressure cooker for cooking grains cuts the cooking time almost in half. Once you try it you will be hooked.
How To Cook Whole Grains
Here is the basic technique for cooking grains. Add your grains, water or stock, and salt to the pot. Set to pressure for the time indicated below. Make sure your lid is sealed. Quick-release.
If there is still liquid in the grains no problem. Let me share 2 ways to deal with this. 1- strain out the liquid. 2- set your pressure cooker to saute and cook the remaining liquid out.
Also, I did not soak these grains. This is a dry grain, right into the pressure cooker.
|Grain||Amount of grain||Water or stock||Salt||Cooking Time|
|Einkorn||2 cups||3.5 cups||1/2 teaspoon||25 minutes, slow release|
|Oat groats||2 cups||4 cups||1/2 teaspoon||27 minutes, slow release|
|Farro||2 cups||3 1/2||1/2 teaspoon||12 minutes, slow release|
|Kamut||2 cups||4 cups||1/2 teaspoon||35 minutes, slow release|
|Barley (hulled)||2 cups||4 cups||1/2 teaspoon||20 minutes, quick release|
Why Use Oat Groats?
You may be wondering if it is worth it to cook oat groats as opposed to rolled oats. First, let’s talk about what makes them different. The oat groats are whole grain. Regular or quick-cooking oats are oat groats that have been rolled. Steel-cut is oat groats that have been cut.
Let me say this- anytime you modify a grain in any way- rolling them, cutting them, grinding them, you expose the grain to oxidation. Over time oxidation will result in nutrient loss. When you are working with whole grains, those nutrients are protected by the hard outer shell.
Storing Cooked Grains
These recipes for whole grains above make several cups, which is good. I love to keep them on hand as it is healthy meal prep. Then they are ready to go when you need them.
I store them in airtight containers in the fridge. You can use mason jars, Tupperware, or even ziplock bags.
Most cooked whole grains will hold well for up to 14 days!!
Recipes Using Cooked Whole Grains
- Pork Tenderloin Einkorn Bowl
- Gluten-Free Veggie Bowl With Oat Groats
- Steak Bowl With Emmer
- Greek Meatball Bowl With Farro
- Strawberries and Cream Einkorn Porridge
- Fruit and Nut Salad With Farro
FAQ Cooked Whole grains
Yes! Soaking them cuts the cooking time in half or even more. The grains are already hydrated, so it takes much less time to cook. Soaking is best done overnight.
I get this question all the time! For one thing, start small. Don’t go from eating all refined grains to whole grains. Add in a 1/2 cup here and there. Another tip I have is to start with milder grains- oat groats and einkorn are some of my favorites. I like to share a suggestion to add in an extra 1/4 cup of liquid and extend the cooking time by5-10 minutes. This will help to soften your grains even more.
Yes, but I don’t really recommend it. They reheat kind of weird, so I don’t do it.
Oh, there are so many! I only listed my top 5 favorites. You can also use smaller grains, like amaranth, quinoa, millet, etc. These cook quickly in the pressure cooker, about 5 minutes. There is also rye, white and red wheat, and wild rice. There really are so many grains to choose from!