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Can you boil water? Then you can make whole grains a part of your diet. Whole grains are delicious and nutritious, supplying vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. And there are many varieties to choose from besides the all-too-common wheat, oats and rice. No matter which you choose, from amaranth to quinoa, this article will show you how to select, store and prepare whole grains as a healthy part of your meals.
Whole grains are simple to prepare on the stove—just cook them the as you would rice or pasta—or in a countertop steamer, which is even easier. Once they’re cooked, whole grains will keep well and can be refrigerated or frozen. So cook as much as you can at one time.
For the most flavor, you can cook grains in bouillon or another flavored liquid (such as vegetable broth or chicken stock) to enhance taste. Don’t be afraid to use these flavor enhancers for a variety of purposes. Both vegetable- and chicken-flavored broths and bouillons will produce mildly flavored grains that can still be used for hot cereals, main dishes, salads or desserts. Here are some of the most common ways to prepare whole grains:
On the stovetop: Any whole grain can be cooked in a pot just as you would cook rice but this method will take longer and will use more liquid than some other methods. If you’re cooking your grains this way, use a medium-size pot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring six cups of bouillon or broth to a boil in the pot, stir in 2.5 cups of grains (1 pound) and return to boiling. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer until the grains are tender and most of the water is absorbed, about 45-60 minutes. Keep in mind that cooking times will vary for different types of grains.
In an electric steamer: This inexpensive countertop unit is the easiest, most convenient way to cook all types of whole grains. Your steamer will come with a detailed instruction booklet and will include many recipes for preparing vegetables and seafood as well. Simply follow the instructions for the different types of grains, using the measurements and cooking times shown in the chart.
In a pressure cooker: Pressure cookers also work well for whole grains. Adjust the cooking times as you would for any other food—whole grains typically take about half the regular time.
In a rice cooker: A rice cooker may be used to cook many whole grains—not just white rice. These cookers use a sensor to determine when the liquid has been absorbed by the grains. But you will need to experiment a few times before you find the ideal amount of liquid to use to cook grains other than white rice.
With the Crockpot: Put grains and liquid in the Crockpot and cook for 6-8 hours.
In the microwave: A plastic rice steamer designed for microwave use can be used to prepare whole grains, but you will need to follow the steamer’s instructions carefully. You will need to change the power setting and stir the grains in the middle of the cooking process.