We had a special treat in the cooking studio when Evelyn Margolin, an Institute ofCulinary Education trained chef and Culinary Demonstration Specialist from theRidgewood, NJ Whole Foods Market demonstrated how to use a variety of wholegrains in the diet. She shared ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner.Wondering what exactly is a whole grain? And whats all this fuss about wholegrains anyway? A grain kernel is basically the seed of a grain plant. All grainsconsist of three parts: the bran or outer coating which contains fiber, the germ orembryo which contains B vitamins, minerals, protein and fat and theendosperm, the largest portion of the grain kernel that contains mostlycarbohydrates. In order for a product to be considered whole grain, it mustcontain the same amount and all of same proportions of bran, germ andendosperm of the natural grain kernel as when it was harvested. Even if it wasprocessed, it would still be considered whole grain if the missing portions wereadded back in. Processing removes most of the fiber-rich bran and protein-richgerm. Simply put, whole grains are more nutritious than processed or refinedgrains.
The three grains Evelyn used were brown rice, wheat berries and pearled barley.Brown rice is processed only enough to remove the inedible outer husk whilekeeping the bran intact. Wheat berries are the seeds of the wheat plant whichalso have had the inedible husk removed. They come in several varieties, whiteor red, hard or soft, winter or spring. Cracked wheat is made when wheat berriesare "cracked" apart into smaller pieces which decreases the cooking time butpreserves the whole grain nature of kernel. Bulgur takes the process one stepfurther by par-boiling the wheat berry and then cracking it. This reduces thecooking time even further. Barley is the fourth largest grain crop after wheat, riceand corn. Pearled barley technically cant be considered a whole grain becausemost of the bran has been removed in the polishing process. While whole grainhulled barley is available, it is limited in supply and difficult to find outside ofspecialty markets.Pearled barley, brown rice and pre-soaked wheat berries all take about the sameamount of time to cook by bringing water or a flavored liquid to a boil, add thegrain, and simmer covered for ~40-50 minutes. As a rule of thumb, most grainsare cooked using the following ratio: 1 cup of grain to 2- 2 1/2 cups liquid.
The nutritional value of whole grains makes it worth the extra time. They arerich in fiber, folic acid, B-vitamins, Vitamin E and protein. While white rice isoften re-fortified with B-vitamins, you can’t get the fiber and protein back. Thetaste and texture of whole grains are another bonus. The nutty taste and chewytexture make you feel like you’re eating something substantial.Evelyn discussed tips for incorporating more whole grains in our diets that wontbreak the time bank. For example, the brown rice breakfast porridge can bemade with left over brown rice from dinner the night before. Once you get thatbrown rice cooking, it doesnt matter how much you make as increasing theamount doesnt increase the cooking time. Because wheat berries require somesoaking time, with a little forethought you can start a whole bunch soaking in ajar or bowl in the refrigerator when youre prepping dinner tonight and use ittomorrow. And once soaked, they can be refrigerated and used over the courseof the week in different dishes. Pearled barley takes about 20-30 minutes longerto cook than white rice but if you get it started at the beginning of the meal prepit will be ready in plenty of time.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that all Americans makehalf or more of their grains whole grains. For those age 9 and up, this meanseating 3 to 5 servings or more of whole grains every day. What’s considered aserving? 1/2 cup cooked rice, bulgur, pasta, or cooked cereal, 1 ounce drypasta, rice or other dry grain, 1 slice bread, 1 small muffin (one ounce), 1 cupready-to-eat cereal flakes.I would be remiss to have a discussion about whole grains, especially brown ricewithout addressing the recent reports on the arsenic content of rice and foodsmade with rice. Arsenic, found naturally in soil is picked up by all plants grown insoil but rice may be particularly susceptible because it is grown under water. TheFDA released preliminary data on arsenic levels in rice and rice products onSeptember 19, 2012. The FDA statement indicated that they are in the process ofcollecting and analyzing ~ 1200 food samples to fully examine the issue. Thisdata collection and analysis is expected to be completed at the end of 2012.Based on current data and scientific literature the FDA does not have anadequate scientific basis to recommend changes by consumers regarding theirconsumption of rice and rice products. FDA Commissioner Margaret A.Hamburg, MD stated, “Our advice right now is that consumers should continue toeat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of grains, not only for goodnutrition but to also minimize any potential consequences from consuming anyone particular food.” We’ll all have to stay tuned to this one.
Whole Foods Markets motto: Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planetemphasizes that their vision reaches far beyond just being a food retailer. Theymeasure their success as a company through customer satisfaction, TeamMember excellence and happiness, return on capital investment, improvement inthe state of the environment, and local and larger community support. It was aprivilege to partner with their organization in the cooking studio at the JohnTheurer Cancer Center and we are planning future programs.
Breakfast Porridge(Brown Rice)Serves 1 (From TracyFlaherty CHHC, CPT, AADP)Ingredients:4 ounces brown rice, cooked1 ounce chopped almonds1 teaspoon almond butter½ cup blueberries or fruit ofchoice1 teaspoon cinnamon1 teaspoon maple syrupMethod:After boiling the rice add allof the ingredients and mixtogether.
Wheat Berry, Apricot and Arugula SaladServes 4Ingredients:1 cup wheat berries½ cup sliced shallots½ cup apple juice2 stalks celery thinly sliced1 cup packed arugula1 cup dried apricots (about 24) chopped½ cup toasted sliced almondsMethod:Place wheat berries in a large bowl and cover with several inches of cold water.Let soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse wheat berries and place in amedium saucepan. Cover by several inches with fresh water and bring to a boil.Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until berries are tender and somebreak open, about 45 minutes. Drain well. Place wheatberries, shallots, juice, celery, arugula and almonds in a large bowl and toss tocombine. Let sit at least 1 hour to blend flavors before serving.
Barley PilafServes 4Ingredients1 small onion, finely chopped3/4 cup pearled barley2 ½ cups low-salt vegetable broth divided1 bay leaf1 medium carrot, peeled, finely chopped1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped1 teaspoon grated lemon peelMethod:Sauté onion in pan using ½ vegetable broth. Add barley; cook 3 minutes, stirringconstantly. Add two cups vegetable broth and bay leaf; bring to boil. Reduce heatto low, stir once, and cover. Cook until barley is almost tender, about 40-45minutes.Add carrot and bell pepper; cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 6minutes. Remove pilaf from heat and stir. Cover and let stand 10 minutes. Discardbay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon peel and serve.