Cooking School

8 good-for-you grains explained

Author: Canadian Living

Cooking School

8 good-for-you grains explained

This story was originally titled "Get Your Grain Fix" in the November 2007 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

Barley: Believed to be the oldest cultivated grain, its most common form is the hulled and polished pearl barley. Pot barley is a whole grain with bran intact; it takes longer to cook than pearl barley. Barley flakes are processed like rolled oats.

Couscous: Made by steaming and drying cracked durum or semolina wheat, couscous is a small granular pasta-like grain. It’s great served with flavourful stews or dressings because of its ability to absorb flavours. Choose whole wheat when available.

Cornmeal: Made from ground white or yellow corn (sometimes blue) and available in coarse, medium or fine grinds, this grain is gluten-free. Generally, coarse cornmeal is used for polenta, while the finer grinds are used for breads and baking.

Millet: This mild-tasting, gluten-free grain is used in baked goods, breads and pilafs or as a base for stews and curries. (It is also great bird food.)

Oats: This gluten-free grain is processed in different ways to make various grades.

Steel-cut oats: Hulled oat kernels are cut into two or three pieces. They're also called Irish or Scottish oats.

Rolled oats: Hulled oat kernels are steamed then rolled. Quick-cooking oats are made by increasing heat during the steaming process.

Quinoa: An ancient grain grown by the Incas of South America, this tiny, beadlike, gluten-free grain cooks like rice but nearly quadruples in size. White quinoa is the most commonly available, but bulk or health food stores sometimes carry red quinoa, which takes slightly longer than the white to cook. It’s great in a stuffing, pilaf or salad.

Rye: Similar in shape to and slightly darker than wheat kernels, rye kernels can be ground into flour, which is popular for breads, or processed like rolled oats for cereals or baking.

Spelt: One of the most cultivated of the ancient grains, spelt looks like wheat grains but is slightly smaller. Spelt flour can replace wheat flour in baking. Whole hulled grains can be cooked like rice for salads or soups.

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Cooking School

8 good-for-you grains explained