We established earlier in the week that whole grains in moderation are part of a healthy diet.  Today we’ll cover which grains are good to keep on hand, and how to store them.

Just like oils, it’s a good idea to keep a few different textures and tastes of grain in your pantry.  Here are some examples of grains you could keep in your kitchen, going in order of soft to crunchy.

Teff:  This African grain is very tiny, so it cooks quickly and results in a creamy porridge texture.  There’s a nice recipe for teff breakfast porridge from Lorna Sass here.

Polenta:  This is coarsely ground cornmeal.  It does take some care and attention to cook polenta without burning it, but it my opinion it’s worth the time!  Polenta also results in a creamy texture, which will firm up when cool.  I like to portion it out in muffin tins so I have servings of polenta pucks ready to go.  Top a puck with some cooked veggies and a protein and you’ve got a nice little meal!

Steel cut oats:  We talked about this whole grain in our breakfast article yesterday.  Keep some handy in your pantry for a warm meal option in the morning.

Millet:  The texture of this small round grain will vary based on whether you toast it before cooking or not.  It has a pleasant nutty flavor, which is also more pronounced post-toasting.  There’s a good article on toasting and preparing millet here.

Brown rice:  This whole grain can be used in so many dishes, will last in a dry pantry for months, and is inexpensive.  What more is there to say?

Quinoa:  This complete vegan protein has a sturdy texture that will hold up in soups and chili.  Quinoa has a nice subtle flavor, rinse it before cooking to avoid any bitter aftertaste.

Wild rice:  This grain is chewier than brown rice, and will also hold up well in soup.  I like to use it for grain salads because it won’t get mushy in the fridge.

Popping corn:  Always good to keep in your kitchen for a fast snack!  It’s cheap and will store for months in your pantry.

There are so many different whole grains out there; these are just a few viable options.  These are all grains intended to cook whole; we’ll cover flours another time.  The use and storage of flour is a little different.

Here are some tips for storing grains:
  • Keep your grains in a dry, cool, dark, cupboard.
  • Store grains in an airtight container- I reuse jars and yogurt tubs and whatnot.
  • Label everything, and write the water/grain ratio right on the label for easy reference.

If you’d like a cookbook that has many different whole grain recipes, check out Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way by Lorna Sass.



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