Cooking Technique: Whole Grains

Updated:Jan 14,2015

wooden spoon with brown riceSimple Cooking with Heart helps you learn to cook whole grains with these tips.

Whole-Grain Pasta

Pasta is always a favorite family food, because it’s quick, easy and tasty. And it can be healthy! The trick is to watch your portion sizes and to make the switch to the whole-grain varieties.

Whole-grain pasta tends to have a chewier texture than white pasta, which some people prefer. But if you’re having trouble making the switch, start by trying half white pasta and half wheat. Or, you can start out with one of the whole-grain/white flour blends that are available at the supermarket. They’re less chewy than 100 percent whole-grain varieties, but they still offer more nutrition than traditional white pasta.

Both whole-grain and white pasta are cooked by boiling in a big pot of water. Whole grain pastas don’t necessarily take any longer to cook. Follow the package directions and be careful not to overcook, because over-cooking can make your pasta turn out kind of gummy. Assume about 2 ounces of any shape of dry pasta per person.

Brown Rice

Just like whole-grain pasta, brown rice is much more nutritious than its white form. But it does take longer to cook than white rice.

Long-grain brown rice cooks up fluffier than the short-grain varieties. Many times, you’ll find this rice in stores just called “long grain.” Some special varieties of long-grain rice are called Basmati, Texmati, Carolina and Jasmine. Short-grain varieties include sushi and Calrose.

If you’ve bought a particular brand of rice, you should follow the instructions on the back of the bag or box. If you’ve bought brown rice from a bulk bin, just remember “two to one”: two cups boiling water and one cup of rice will make about three cups of cooked rice. (The ratio of water to rice for short-grain brown rice is 2.25 cups water to one cup rice.)

Pour the rice into the boiling water, stir it once, reduce heat to low, cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and let it cook for about 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, take the pan off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes before you take the lid off.

Store the leftover rice in the refrigerator for up to three days. It’s easy to heat up in the microwave with a little bit of water. It’s good cold for lunch, too. Try it tossed with some chopped parsley, lemon juice and olive oil.

The bran layer in brown rice contains a small amount of oil and so brown rice has a shorter shelf-life than white rice. Store uncooked rice in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 6 months. You can also refrigerate or freeze uncooked rice for a longer shelf life.


Article copyright © 2015 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 heart.org/simplecooking.


Last reviewed 1/2015