Guest Post: Talking Grains with Vintage Mixer

Grains are all the rage right now, and what better way to embrace these healthy options than to let our friend Becky over at Vintage Mixer tell you all about it? Read on for all the skinny on these great grains, and get the fantastic recipes (butternut squash, anyone?)…

Take it away, Becky!

What better thing to be popular than something nutritious and easy to cook?  From the traditional rice to the eclectic pearl couscous, it’s like there’s a different grain to fit every mood. I eat grains like the ones below at least once a day, even for breakfast sometimes. These are four of the most common grains (one of which only poses as a grain but is actually a seed).  Each has its own uses, textures, cooking techniques and times. Hope you find this helpful in creating your own grain-based dinners in the near future. Cooking ratios are grain to water/liquid (ex 1:2- One part rice to two parts water)

What: A cereal grain, and a staple food for a large part of the world’s population
Cooking ratio 1:2
Cooking method: Stir 1 cup of rice into 2 cups of boiling salted water with a bit of butter or oil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover for about 18 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Tips: Rinse rice in cold water before cooking to prevent it from being sticky from the starch on the rice. Brown Rice and Wild Rice require more water and longer cooking times, while shorter-grain rices require less. Keep in mind that more water gives you softer, stickier rice, great for complimenting Asian dishes. Less water results in firmer rice, a good style for rice salads. Also, use a heavier pot to prevent the bottom from scorching. For best results let the rice sit for at least 5 minutes (away from heat) after being cooked for about 12 minutes for a uniform texture in the rice.
recipe: Roasted Grape and Walnut Rice Pilaf

What: One of the healthiest grain based products, with double the vitamins of pasta and a third more protein than rice, containing a 1% fat-to-calorie ratio, compared to 3% for white rice, 5% for pasta
Ratio: 2/3:1
Cooking method: Stir 2/3 cup of couscous into 1 cup of boiling salted water, then cover and take the pot off the stove. After 5 minutes of steaming in the covered pot, fluff with a fork and serve.
Tips: broth or stock can be used to better flavor the couscous instead of water, also don’t forget to remove the pot from the stove once the couscous has been added.
Recipe: Moroccan Tagine with Couscous, Dried Apricots and Chickpeas

What: A grain of wheat in whole form. Also called emmer or spelt and can be used interchangeably with barley. Most popular in Italy, known for it’s nutty flavor and chewy texture.  farro is also especially rich in magnesium and B vitamins
Ratio:  1:2
Cooking method: Toast farro with a bit of butter or oil in a heavy pot for a couple minutes then add water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, until grains are tender and have absorbed all of the liquid. Taste test to make sure its tender. Drain any excess water.
Tips: Pearled farro will take less time to cook than semi-pearled, which will take less time to cook than whole.
Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash over Farro with Cumin-Spiced Yogurt Sauce

What: Quinoa is one of nature’s superfoods and is grain-like but is actually a seed related to beets and spinach. Pronounced KEEN-wah, this gluten-free seed is tiny and nutty-tasting, delivering a healthy doses of protein and fiber. It is also one of the only plant foods that is a complete protein, meaning that it provides the body with all 9 essential amino acids.
Ratio: 1: 1 3/4
cooking method:  Toast quinoa with a bit of butter or oil in a heavy pot for a couple minutes then add water. Bring to a boil then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork before serving.
Tips: Use stock with a splash of white wine at the very end of cooking for more flavor. For a drier, tighter grain use less water with quinoa (1 1/2 cups water) or for a more soupy like grain use more water (2 cups).
Recipe: Breakfast Quinoa with Fruit and Nuts

We hope you enjoyed this awesome and informative (how often does that happen, really?) post from Vintage Mixer. Be sure to check out their blog and many fantastic recipe options.

Until tomorrow (freebiefreebiefreebie!),


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  • Diana

    Wow! Great pictures! Very informative! Love it!

  • Evelyn

    I love couscous for a summer lunch, so good.

  • Lynn Wood DeLaMare

    Remember that wild rice is not rice at all, and it needs considerably more water and considerably more time to cook. But it’s worth it–just add a couple tablespoons to the boiling rice water. And don’t ignore the colored rices in the bins–red rice is outrageously good. Don’t forget about adding some chopped onion and/or garic to your water; but don’t add green onions until serving–they’ll turn ‘olive green’ if you cook them thru. If I could, I’d eat bulgur every day–try a pilaff. Enjoy!

  • Heather

    I am a big fan of couscous for a summer side that you can bring to parties. a little evoo and corn does the trick. i also like cayenne.

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