I just love love love whole grains! Bulgur, oats, wheat berries, brown rice, spelt flakes, barley....I am into it. As you can see, I'm also a fan of Bob's Red Mill products, especially their organic grains. I like to store my grains in air-tight glass mason jars to keep them fresh and dry. (I peel the labels off and stick them on the jar so I know what's what!)
Canada's Food Guide says we should have 5-7 servings of grain products a day depending on age and gender with at least half of them whole grain. Always check labels to make sure "whole" precedes grain because there is a difference... for example, whole wheat flour and wheat flour. (White flour is wheat flour) Grains are so good for you because they are high in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, and have been shown to reduce our risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. They keep you full longer and are low glycemic. They can also be quite tasty!
I can remember the first time I gave my instant-rice-loving man brown rice - he didn't care for it much and thought it too "chewy". I started sneaking it into his food though (think cabbage rolls, stuffed peppers, etc) and gradually he's become accustomed to it. Now I can actually get him to eat brown basmati as a side dish without complaint!
Whole grains aren't just for breakfast (although they do make excellent breakfasts!) or hot dishes. They can be made into some very tasty salads and side dishes for any meal of the day. One of my favorite take-to-work lunches is a fruity wheat berry salad made with apples, pecans and dried cranberries:
*Fruited Wheat Berry Salad*
2 cups cooked wheat berries
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 large Pink Lady or Fuji apple, cored and chopped, skin on
1/4 cup dried cranberries soaked for 1/2 hour in 1/4 cup orange, cranberry, pomegranate, or apple juice
1/4 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons raspberry or pear infused balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Toast pecans on baking pan in preheated oven at 350F for 7 minutes. Cool.
Drain cranberries reserving juice for dressing. Mix with cooked wheat berries, celery, apple, and pecans in a bowel. Whisk reserved juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and pour over salad. Mix gently and refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving. Makes 4 servings.
I sometimes will use dried sour cherries or pomegranate flavored cranberries - it's all good!
How to cook hard wheat berries:
Rinse and soak for 1 hour; drain. Put in medium sauce pan and cover with water by at least 1 inch. Bring to boil and simmer for about 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well. I usually use my rice cooker to cook them and I will cook 2-3 cups at a time. Then I freeze what I don't use in handy 2-cup portions in freezers bags to use at another time.