Great Grains: Make Them Whole!

Updated:Apr 21,2014

Great Grains: Make Them Whole!- Widget

Great Grains: Make Them Whole!

By now you’ve probably heard it’s a good idea to eat more fiber-rich whole grains. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends eating three or more servings of fiber-rich whole grains every day. While you may be familiar with brown rice and 100% whole wheat bread, there are lots of other tasty whole grain options. And most are money savers, especially when you buy them in bulk. Here’s how to expand your whole grain horizons:

Whole GrainDescriptionCommon SourcesCooking Tips
BarleyBarley is high in fiber. It has a chewy texture and nutty taste, like brown rice.

Barley is also found in packaged granolas, hot cereals and soup mixes.

Hulled barley has the most fiber because its bran layer is not removed, and it takes the longest to cook.
Hulled or hull-less barley or whole-grain barleyBasics: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of hulled barley, cover and turn heat to medium low. Cook for 40-45 minutes.

Cooked barley adds bulk and flavor to soups, casseroles, cooked vegetables – just about any recipe that calls for rice can be replaced with barley.

Toss cooked barley with your favorite cooked beans, chopped onions and fresh herbs for a twist on plain rice & beans.
Bulgur is made from wheat kernels that have been dried and boiled, it’s usually sold as fine or coarse.

Sometimes bulgur is confused with cracked wheat, which isn’t previously boiled so it needs to be cooked longer than bulgur.
Bulgur wheatBasics: Soak 1 cup bulgur in 1 ½ cups very hot water and it’s ready in 15 minutes!

Bulgur can be added to soups, meatballs, meatloaf or substituted for rice in cold and hot dishes.

To make tabbouleh, a popular Middle Eastern grain salad, mix cooked bulgur with chopped parsley, mint, tomatoes, lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.
CornSurprise! Corn is a whole grain that’s available in many forms and is inexpensive, too. When buying corn products (flour, meal, grits) other than kernels, look for the words “whole grain corn” in the ingredient list.Whole kernels (fresh, frozen, canned)


Whole Cornmeal

Whole Grits

Corn tortillas (made with whole-grain corn or whole cornmeal)
Basics: To cook cornmeal (polenta), mix 1 cup whole cornmeal with 1 cup cool water. Bring 3 cups water to a boil, slowly whisk in cornmeal mixture. Reduce heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring often.

Use whole cornmeal to make muffins, cornbread or pancakes. Add fresh or frozen kernels to salads, soups and casseroles.

Down South, grits are eaten at breakfast, lunch and dinner; serve with black pepper or a drizzle of honey.
MilletMillet has been around for more than 10,000 years but in the U.S., it’s found more often in birdseed than on our tables! When cooked, the tiny yellow balls fluff ups like rice. Millet has a delicious, nutty flavor.Hulled millet or whole milletBasics: Bring 2 ½ cups of water to a boil; add 1 cup millet. Lower heat, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes.

After cooking, whip millet just like you would to make mashed potatoes!

For extra flavor, toast millet in a pan for 10 minutes before cooking. Add ½ a cup to batter for banana bread or corn muffins for an added crunch.
OatsOats are one of the most popular whole grains in America. Choose steel cut or old fashioned oats more often – they cost less and have no sodium, sugar and preservatives compared to flavored oatmeal products.Steel cut oats

Old fashioned/rolled oats

Quick or instant oats

Whole oat flour
Basics: Bring 2 cups water and 1 cup old fashioned oats to a boil. Lower to medium heat and cook 8-10 minutes until creamy, stirring frequently.

Cook your oatmeal in fat free milk for a creamier taste and extra nutrients. Mix in dried fruit and nuts for a filling breakfast.
Quinoa is a South American grain.. It has a slightly crunchy texture and is rising in popularity in the U.S.

Quinoa is also used to make some brands of gluten-free pastas.
Whole grain quinoa

Whole quinoa Flakes

Whole quinoa flour
Basics: To prevent it from tasting bitter, always rinse quinoa before cooking. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil; add 1 cup quinoa. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 20 minutes.

Use in salads, casseroles, hot breakfast cereals and bean dishes for a boost of nutrition and a nutty crunch.


Article copyright © 2014 American Heart Association. This recipe is brought to you by the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart © Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit