Touring the world of whole grains

Most of my life, I’ve been a fussy eater.  Like only eating Crap Dinner and pasta every day of my childhood.  Or being exposed constantly to meals eating in -kraut (though I do love a good turnip kraut).

My palate has never been very sophisticated (sorry KD, even if I can discern the different flavours of spirals, egg noodles, and store brands).  But I’m determined to expand my horizons and foray into the world of whole grains.

Quinoa.  Kamut.  I can barely pronounce them, but I want to know them.  Intimately.  (Some health nuts avoid products containing ingredients they can’t pronounce.  If I followed that diet, for years I wouldn’t have been able to eat anything containing cinnamon.)

Whenever you’re game to add more whole grains to your diet (and test to make sure your toilet works on demand), a good place to start is the Bulk Barn.  They have varieties of flours I’ve never heard of, along with seeds and grains that sound like they’ve come from all around the world.  And rices!  They even have brown basmati rice; I didn’t even know such a thing existed!  (I’m so disappointed I picked up a bag of white basmati rice at Dollarama, even if it was just $2.)

My rationale?  Generally, if it’s brown, it’s whole grain.  White anything is probably not.  (Sorry Ben’s bread and Minute Rice!)  I did make an exception for arborito rice so I can try homemade risotto.  In fact, the real reason I went into the Bulk Barn was for Parmesan cheese because I figured the ancient shaker of Parmesan in the fridge probably required carbon dating in order to identify its true age.

So.  This week, I’m attempting to expand my palate to:

hemp seeds – I sure hope I don’t start growing marijuana in my belly!  I plan to make homemade granola this week and the hemp seeds just might find their way in!

ground psyllium husk – Great source of fibre that you can add to your morning cereal.  Silly’em!

amaranth seeds – No idea how to pronounce this one, but I’ve been eating a granola from Shopper’s Drug Mart that contains amaranth seeds.  And chocolate.  Amaranth seeds are a great source of protein and some amino acids.  Plus they’re kind of cute!

organic spelt flakes – High in protein and Vitamin A, unusual for a cereal grain.  Hello awesome granola for my morning cereal!  (I also made sure I got honey even though it’s nutritionally much the same as processed sugar; it just makes me feel healthier, like a placebo.)

quinoa – You say it “keen-wah” supposedly (not that I’m worldly, by any means).  This unusual tasting grain is dense in iron, which I’m sure makes it a BFF of vegetarians and vegans.  It’s a complete protein, which means you don’t need to pair it with anything else in order to get all the amino acids your body needs.  If you’re tired of rice and pasta, cook up a pot of quinoa.  Save the leftovers for breakfast and eat it like oatmeal.

kamut flakes – I used to buy these for my gerbils and occasionally cooked some for myself.  If you dig oats, kamut and spelt flakes will add some variety to your life without changing it drastically: in fact, they look much the same as oat flakes.  Add to cookies and muffins and whatever else.

couscous – Strange name to many of us, but delish.  It’s made from the same stuff as some pasta (semolina) but it’s in small particles like little rice.  I bought mine at Dollarama, not the Bulk Barn, and it has vegetables in it, so I’m interested to see what the dollar store can do with couscous.  Honestly, you never know what you’ll find at the dollar store!

arborito rice – Homemade risotto is happening.  Sometime.  This week.  Next week.  Soon.

corn meal – Polenta.  Basically, it’s baked or fried corn meal.  I am SO down with that.  I love corn meal muffins, corn meal as a breakfast cereal, and I think it’s time to rock it for supper.  Boil it up, put it in the fridge, shape into patties or a pan depending on whether you’re frying it or baking it.  So simple AND you get to say you are a master of polenta.  Sounds better than saying you baked corn meal.

To summarize, my adventures in domesticity and healthy eating continue.  I feel that at the age of 30, it’s time to expand my palate and eat some of the amazing foods available to us in regular old grocery stores and bulk stores.  After all, if I can find these things in Bridgewater, you must be able to access them everywhere!

Happy eating!

Alternative Granola

(Adapted from Cookipedia’s “Homemade Granola”)

  • 170 milliliters of healthy oil
  • 450 grams of some combination of flakes (oat, kamut, or spelt)
  • 250 grams honey
  • 110 grams seeds (almond is a great choice)
  • hemp seed
  • ground flax or psyllium husk
  • raisins or dried fruit to taste
  • any desired spices (like cinnamon or nutmeg)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to about 350F.
  2. Mix everything together except the raisins.
  3. Put in a roasting pan and cook for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden.  Remember to stir often!
  4. Cool slightly, then add raisins or other fruit.
  5. Store in air tight container.
  6. Eat with milk, yogurt, or on its own!

    Glorious whole grains!
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