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Your guide to good grains

Learn about different grains, and how to prepare and serve them.

How much grains should I have?

The Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council recommends we enjoy whole grain foods three to five times a day. This will be enough to meet the recommended Daily Target Intake of 48g of whole grains per day.

1 Amaranth

  • What is it? Amaranth is a gluten-free grain with a slightly peppery taste. It is thought to have cancer-preventing properties.
  • How to cook it? Boiled with equal parts of water and grain, amaranth absorbs the water and is ready to serve in 20 minutes.
  • How to use it? It’s great in soups and stews, or you can ‘pop’ it like corn and use it in muesli bars.

2 Barley

  • What is it? One of the first grains to be widely used, this nutty-tasting grain is a good source of beta-glucan for a heathy heart.
  • How to cook it? Cook one part barley and three parts water on the stovetop for 45 minutes until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  • How to use it? Pearled barley is a delicious, easy addition to a vegetable soup or to slip into a beef casserole for a hearty winter meal.

3 Oats

  • What is it? Don’t be fooled by their bland taste, oats are versatile and known for their high beta-glucan content to help lower cholesterol.
  • How to cook it? To make traditional porridge the tried and true way, cook 1 cup of rolled oats in 1½–2 cups of water or milk to serve two.
  • How to use it? For a quick and easy breakfast option, make some overnight oats or Bircher muesli the night before. You could also add a tablespoon to your favourite fruit smoothie.

4 Spelt

  • What is it? Spelt, a type of wheat, is higher in zinc than regular wheat. It has a sweet, nutty taste.
  • How to cook it? A cup of spelt left to simmer in 1½ litres of water will be ready in 30 minutes.
  • How to use it? Spelt can be used in salads, just as you would use rice or couscous. It’s also a great grain to serve with slow-cooked stews.

5 Rye

What is it? Rye has an ‘earthy’ taste and a lower GI than most other grains to help you manage your blood sugar levels.
How to cook it? Boiled just like rice, rye ‘berries’ can be cooked, one part rye to four parts water, in about 45 minutes.
How to use it? Sprinkle it over a salad, stir into a pot of soup, or enjoy it in a slice of sourdough rye.

6 Quinoa

What is it? Quinoa is slightly crunchy and is popular due to its unusually high protein. Packed with all the essential amino acids, this complete protein is perfect for vegetarians — plus it’s gluten free.
How to cook it? Quinoa takes just 15 minutes, using a ratio of 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water.
How to use it? This nutty ‘grain’ is perfect for any salad. Alternatively, you could make quinoa porridge, or use it in place of rice.

7 Freekeh

What is it? Freekeh has a smoky flavour with double the protein and fibre of brown rice to help you feel full for longer.
How to cook it? Cook it just as you would brown rice. Choose the cracked varieties to have it ready in under 20 minutes.
How to use it? Use freekeh instead of rice or barley in your risottos, salads, and pilafs.

Date modified: May 4 2023
First published: May 2023

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