Grains 101

Posted on Mar 01 2015 in General

grains_webAccording to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain fits into the grains food group. Grains can be whole or refined. The Whole Grains Council recommends that half of the grains we eat should be whole grains. This means the grain contains all three parts of the kernel — the bran, the germ and the endosperm. To find out if a product contains whole grain, look for the Whole Grain Stamp (shown below) or words like “100 percent whole wheat” on the packaging. To learn more about labeling, visit Here are a few tidbits about some lesser-known grains:

Amaranth: lively, peppery taste; 13-14 percent protein — higher than most other grains; can be popped like corn; contains no gluten

Barley: one of the oldest cultivated grains; its fiber is especially healthy and may lower cholesterol even more effectively than oat fiber

Buckwheat: the only grain known to have high levels of the antioxidant rutin; studies show it improves circulation and prevents LDL cholesterol from blocking blood vessels

Bulgur: result of boiling, drying, and cracking wheat kernels; traditionally used in tabbouleh, a minty grain and vegetable salad; contains more fiber than quinoa, oats, millet, buckwheat or corn

Sorghum: also called milo; can be eaten like popcorn, cooked into porridge, ground into flour for baked goods or even brewed into beer; contains no gluten

Quinoa: light and fluffy; can be incorporated into soups, salads and baked goods; its protein is complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies can’t make on their own

Sources: United States Department of Agriculture, Whole Grains Council


grain stamp

Find reader-submitted recipes from our March 2015 issue that use grains:

Sally Baugues’ “Quinoa Salad”

Rachel Flora’s “Chicken Barley Soup”