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Switching from processed to whole grains is one of the simplest changes you can make to help your health. Whole grains have more protein and fiber than their stripped-down counterparts, which means they'll help you stay fuller longer. That's because they take longer to digest--another reason they're one of our "Spark Swaps" ingredients in "The Spark Solution: A Complete Two-Week Program to Fast-Track Weight Loss and Total Body Health," the new book from the experts at SparkPeople.
Grains on their own aren't very flavorful, but you can use that to your advantage. Use their mild taste as a blank canvas to complement the rest of your meal. Here are 10 easy ways to flavor whole grains--no recipe needed.
Prepare your grains according to package directions. You'll need 4 servings (2 cups cooked).
Serving suggestions: quinoa, whole wheat couscous, brown rice, bulgur, wild rice, etc.
NOTE: To save time, you can use precooked grains unless noted. Either buy heat-and-eat varieties or make a large batch once a week.
1. Stir in chopped fresh herbs just before serving.
basil, oregano and parsley (1/2 cup)
chives and cilantro (1/2 cup)
rosemary, thyme and sage (1/4 cup)
If you prefer dried herbs, use half the amount and add before cooking or reheating your grains.
2. Add dried fruit and chopped, toasted nuts just before serving.
Add 2 tablespoons each
cranberries and almonds
raisins and walnuts
currants and pistachios
Note: To toast nuts, lightly brown in skillet over medium heat.
3. Dry roast 1-2 teaspoons of spices in the pan before adding the grains and water.
cumin seed (whole or ground)
coriander (whole or ground)
Before cooking your grains, heat the spices in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Shake the pan gently to roast the spices. When the spices are fragrant (after about two minutes), add your grain and cook according to package directions.
4. Stir in 1 cup cooked vegetables before serving.
Steamed spinach or mixed greens
Sautéed or roasted carrots, asparagus or squash
Roasted, sliced Brussels sprouts
5. Add canned beans for a heartier side. Add 1 can (14.5 ounces) drained and rinsed beans.
6. Stir in purees, pesto or salsa. Add 2 tablespoons or to taste.
sundried tomato paste (use 1 tablespoon as this is usually concentrated)
roasted pepper puree
any jarred salsa
7. Add sautéed mushrooms and soft, creamy cheese. Saute 1 cup mushrooms in the pan before adding the grains and water. Stir in 2 ounces creamy cheese just before serving.
Shiitake, portabella, cremini mushrooms
Soft goat, herb or cream cheese
In a small skillet, saute 1 cup sliced mushrooms in 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add to cooked grains along with the cheese just before serving. (Chopped fresh herbs would also be good.) Continued ›
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