Thursday, June 28, 2007

Experimentation with Whole Grains

For a long time, I wasn't eating very much in the way of carbohydrates. It was an attempt to lose weight and it worked, particularly coupled with a reduction in fat consumption and increased exercise. But, then, I got into running. And, you just can't run a lot without carbs. You can jog and you can probably do a decent amount of mileage, but you can't rack up the miles on a weekly basis if you don't eat enough fuel in the form of carbohydrates. I learned this in a rather uncontrolled manner last year. As I trained for a marathon, I found that I just couldn't stop eating. I had cravings every night, particularly for sweets like cookies and cake. And, I ate it all. This has never really stopped, although I am slowly trying to shift my carb intake to healthier carbs as much as possible. Hence, this post about whole grains. I am not that crazy about eating rice or pasta, but those are good foundations for lots of meals. And, my wife and son like them both. So, I can't avoid them. But, as a family, we can avoid refined sugars and overly processed wheat and still get plenty of carbs and plenty of flavor by buying and cooking whole grain. So, we've started experimenting and trying out some recipes. So far, we've had quinoa, wheatberry, and some crazy seven grain pilaf thing. I guess it had lots of different things including wheatberry, bulger, and a few others. Of those that we've eaten so far, I have been very pleased.

Quinoa - strange looking and needs a bit of prep in that you have to soak it. But, it has a very nice texture, works well with a variety of flavors, and can be used in a lot of dishes. It is similar to couscous, in my opinion.

Wheatberry - very tasty, but not as accessible as some other grains. Hard outer coat and I'm afraid of what would happen if we cooked it too long. It is cheap, though. And, it does have a nice texture that can provide a good complement to some kinds of food.

Buckwheat - we've eaten buckwheat as part of a kasha dish. Kasha Varnishkas is wonderful, but I don't know what else we'd do with buckwheat. I like the funky shape of the grain and the fact that it is chewy. All it really needs is a bit of onion and some salt and it can be very enjoyable.

Bulger - have had this in some traditional stuff, but we haven't cooked with it yet. It is sitting on the shelf waiting for its moment to shine.

Spelt - we've never tried this one, but I just picked up a box today. It looks a lot like wheatberry.

I'll add more notes as we continue down this road.

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