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Whole Grains, A Love Story

By Chef Judi Gallagher –

grainsThere are some occasions that call for a perfect slice or two of white bread: The breadcrumb topping of a gooey dish of macaroni and cheese; a perfect BLT; a grilled cheese sandwich. That said, these days, I’ve been taking a step back and evaluating how — and more important, what — I’m eating, and whole, non-GMO grains (and pseudo-grains) are making a big and favorable impression on my day-to-day eating habits. I’m talking about quinoa, farro, amaranth, millet, oats, brown rice, bulgur, spelt and the like. These grains, many of them ancient, not only taste wonderful, they’re full of health benefits. Whole grains are a total win-win. I’m in love with them.

quinoa

Quinoa

Do you know that quinoa and amaranth contain all eight of the essential amino acids we’re encouraged to eat, making them both awesome choices for anyone looking to supplement his or her diet with more plant-based protein? (I’m looking at you, vegetarian friends!) Whole grains in general are packed with vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, proteins and iron.

Grains can be divided into quick-cooking and slow-cooking categories. Quick-cooking grains, such as quinoa, bulgur and millet, can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. Longer-cooking grains such as spelt, rye, or wheatberry can take up to 70 minutes to prepare. Schedule your kitchen time accordingly.

Farro

Farro

Happily, I’ve been seeing more of these grains make their way into mainstream grocery stores these days. Trader Joe’s sells a great 10-minute farro, for example, and you’ll find quinoa on the shelf of almost every market. Flours made from grains — buckwheat, whole wheat and the like —are widely available, too (and buckwheat pancakes are an excellent breakfast treat). Easy access to whole grains wasn’t always the case. Because of the way whole grains were processed (or not processed) and stored, they were a rarity in most supermarkets for many years. However, thanks to the great reputation they’ve been getting lately, I’m happy that I’m able to get my hands on them wherever I go. And a lot of them are even naturally gluten-free, which is helpful for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

So welcome to my diet, whole grains. I think we’ll be very happy together.

 

Whole Grain Griddle Cakes

Whole Grain Griddle Cakes

Whole Grain Griddle Cakes

Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 egg

2 cups buttermilk

¼ cup pure maple syrup

1 cup oat flour (gluten-free)

2/3 cup yellow cornmeal

1/3 cup brown rice flour

¼ cup buckwheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil, for skillet

Butter and maple syrup, for serving

 

Whisk egg, buttermilk and maple syrup in a small bowl. Whisk oat flour, cornmeal, rice flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients, then whisk in butter until no lumps remain. Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat, lightly brush with oil. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/4-cupfuls into skillet. Cook until bottoms are browned and bubbles form on top of griddle cakes about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until griddle cakes are cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

F&M

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