If you had asked me five years ago to name grains, I would have probably listed whole wheat, brown rice, barley and oatmeal. That's all there is, right? Right?
No. Turns out, there is this amazing world of grains that you may or may not be familiar with. Pretty much everyone knows that grains are an essential part of daily diets, but that doesn't mean you have to get stuck in the whole wheat-oatmeal-brown rice rut.
Ready to open your mind to new grains?
Quinoa (Keen-wa) - When cooked, quinoa looks like couscous and has a lovely nutty flavor. Though it's technically not really a grain, it is uber healthy. Registered Dietician Jennifer Haas of the Nova Medical & Urgent Care Center, Inc. in Ashburn, Virginia, says that this is one of her favorite "grains." "It's really a perfect grain in my opinion because of its versatility," says Hass.
Recipe: Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Barley (Bar-lee) - Barley isn't just for infant cereals. This healthy grain, another favorite of Haas's, can be used in place of oats, she says. But it's also perfect for savory dishes too. Haas suggests making barley in a rice cooker, where she says it will come out perfect every time.
Recipe: Spinach-Barley Risotto
Millet (Mill-it) - Yes. You might be familiar with the grain millet from its usage in birdseed (resisting urge to make bird-related pun), but it's also something that humans can enjoy too. According to World's Healthiest Foods, it's a heart-healthy choice that may even prevent gallstones. I hear that it's tasty too.
Recipe: Asian Chicken and Millet Stir-Fry
Bulgur (Bul-grrr) - Nutty and a little sweet ... that's what a friend told me about the taste of this whole grain. Bulgur, which is used in salads, pilaf, soup and more, is a whole grain from the wheat family.
Recipe: Mediterranean Vegetable Bulgur Salad
Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger. Find her online at Sarah's Cucina Bella.