A few weeks ago, I received a bounty of goodness in the mail, courtesy of Hodgson Mill, through the generous giveaway hosted by my friend, the uber-talented Mary Helen of Mary Makes Dinner.
Contained therein, enough whole-grain pasta to keep my family in wholesome eating for months! It really was quite a haul. Also included, the Hodgson Mill Whole Grain Baking Cookbook that is chockful of hundreds of recipes for savory and sweet, traditional breads, and not-so traditional treats, too. The recipe for savory whole grain blue cheese sesame muffins with rosemary, featured on our recent post, Muffin, Friend?, was based upon an easy recipe that I discovered among pages of I'm-going-to-try-that!s that I played around with a bit, and look forward to calling on, again.
I've long been a fan of Hodgson Mill, as they offer the best variety of whole grains, and are a company I have come to trust. They are my go-to source for flours, cereals, whole grains, and even gluten free products.
We have switched from plain to whole grain in all of our pasta-based meals--at first for the health benefits, and now because we love the toothy, hearty bite that the more processed refined pastas leave behind.
But why whole grain?
And that's the skinny, in a nutshell. Or, rather, in an outer bran, as the case may be.
"In addition to regulating blood sugar levels, the fiber in whole grains improves cholesterol ratios and aids the digestive system. A recent government study even linked the fiber found in whole grains specifically to longer life (a lower risk of death at any age from common fatal conditions such as cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases and possibly even cancer)." -- Dr. Andrew Weil
General tips on cooking with whole grains
The instructions given for each grain here are for stovetop preparation. But you can also use a rice or pressure cooker for any whole grain instead of a pot on the burner; just know that the cooking times and liquid ratios provided may need to be adjusted.
To reduce cooking time for longer-cooking grains, pre-soak them for a few hours or overnight (with the exception of quinoa, which has a bitter coating that can be absorbed if soaked; rinse quinoa briefly instead).
Except where stirring or uncovering is suggested, don’t remove the lid while cooking grains, as it disrupts the steaming process.
If you are watching your sodium intake, feel free to cook your grains in unsalted water. Otherwise, one-fourth teaspoon of sea salt goes a long way (add salt when you combine grain and water in the pot). Alternatively, try using vegetable broth as the cooking liquid, or for a more exotic flavor, a 50/50 mixture of water and juice. You can even add a splash of wine or dried herbs.
It’s generally a good idea to purchase grains in bulk, except where otherwise noted. Some grains such as rice and oats are found at typical supermarkets, but you will have better luck finding more obscure grains, such as teff and amaranth, at your local natural foods store. For all grains, opt for organic varieties from the bulk bins of health food stores whenever possible - they have higher turnover rates, which improves the likelihood of freshness.
Store in tightly sealed containers in the pantry (or another cool, dry, dark place). Even better: store in the refrigerator if you have room. Unless otherwise noted, properly stored grains can last up to one year. (Courtesy of Dr. Andrew Weil.)
For more information about whole grains, be sure to stop byHodgsons Mill
Dr Weil's Healthy Kitchen
Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Optimum Health: Dr. Oz & Dr. Andrew Weil
and for healthy, and fun, eating, don't miss my very clever friend at Mary Makes Dinner