Guide to grains
Published : April 08, 2016
Super healthy and delicious...
Have you ever struggled to pronounce 'quinoa' let alone know how to cook it or eat it?
You're not alone, and that's why we have created a simple guide to grains so you can discover how to buy, cook and eat them, and most importantly enjoy their many benefits.
Pronounced ‘bah lee’
A lovely versatile cereal grain with a rich nutty flavor and a delicious chewy, pasta-like consistency. Its appearance resembles wheat berries, although it is slightly lighter in color.
Health benefits: An excellent source of dietary fibre, barley also helps reduce cholesterol, is low in GI helping sustain good sugar levels throughout the day.
Eating: Totally delicious when used in soup or instead of rice in meals like paella or risotto.
Cooking: Boil barley grains in a large pot of salted water until tender, approximately 45 to 60 mins, and then drain.
A whole wheat grain that has been cracked and partially pre-cooked.
Health benefits: Naturally high in fiber and iron, bulgur is low in fat.
Eating: Traditionally used in tabouleh, bulgur is a welcome addition to any salad or the perfect accompaniment to braised meats.
Cooking: Simmer 1 cup of bulgur and 2 cups of water for 10 minutes until all fluid is absorbed. Cover and let stand.
Known as pharaoh’s wheat, farro is composed of certain wheat species grains, it originated in Egypt before making its way to Italy, where ancient Romans ate it as a healthy alternative to pasta.
Health benefits: Top of the charts for iron and zinc, farro is also extremely high in fibre and essential vitamins and minerals.
Eating: Its nutty flavor and chewy texture makes it lovely as a risotto, in a stew or soup.
Cooking: Farro can be cooked as one would steam brown rice and added to salads, but is delicious made into farrotto, similar to risotto, or simmered in chicken stock with sautéed carrots and celery to make soup.
These tiny fonio grains are a member of the millet family and are know as the ‘grain of life’ grown to try and eliminate hunger in Africa.
Health benefits: Gluten free, this wonderful gain is perfect for Celiacs, it is simple to digest and is full of important amino acids, folic acid and iron.
Eating: Can be eaten like porridge or similar to cous cous in a salad or warm as an alternative to rice.
Cooking: Set over simmering water, cover, and steam the fonio, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and fluff with a fork. Drizzle with salted water and steam again until the grains are tender. (Alternately, fonio can be prepared in a microwave by adding enough water to cover in a bowl and cooking until tender, 6-8 minutes).
Pronounced ‘free kaa’
Freekeh is a young green wheat that has been toasted and cracked.
Health benefits: Low in fat, high in protein, low GI and high in fibre, freekeh is definitely one of the best super-grains especially if you are looking at losing weight and feeling great.
Eating: Freekeh is the perfect grain for tabouleh and any addition to a fresh salad.
Cooking: Place 1 cup of freekeh with 2 ½ cups of water in a pot with a lid and simmer until tender and all the water is absorbed. Approximately 20 mins for cracked freekah and 40 minutes for whole.
An ancient grain, also known as Kharasan wheat or Pharaoh grain, kamut is healthier than a normal wheat grain as it contains 30% more protein and more fatty acids.
Health benefits: Packed full of amino acids and protein, Kamut also contains high levels of iron and selenium for optimum health.
Eating: Kamut has a lovely texture and nutty rich flavour.
Cooking: Boil in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender, approximately 45 – 60 mins and then drain.
A gluten free grain that is widely used in Eastern Europe to make porridge.
Health benefits: High in zinc, potassium, vitamin B, iron and protein.
Eating: Millet has a sweety nutty flavour and can be used in salads, baking or like the Europeans as a yummy gluten free breakfast porridge.
Cooking: Place 1 cup of millet and 2 cups of water in a pot and simmer with lid on for 15 minuts until all the water is absorbed.
The best wheat free option to grains leading to its popularity, quinoa is delicious when used for any meal of the day.
Health benefits: Quinoa is supercharged with protein, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B and fiber.
Eating: The perfect creamy, fluffy yet crunchy texture of quinoa makes it so versatile and can be used in a breakfast cereal, salad for lunch or as a side for dinner.
Cooking: Boil in a large pot of salted water for 12 to 15 minutes until tender. Drain the quinoa and return to the pot and cover, let it stand for 10 minutes and fluff with a fork to serve.
A sub-species of wheat, spelt is a wholegrain and one of the world’s most ancient grains.
Health benefits: Spelt has high levels of fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals, easy to digest and low in gluten.
Eating: Spelt has a lovely, nutty flavour not dissimilar to barley. It is sold as flour or whole berries and used in bread, pasta, biscuits and crackers.
Cooking: Soak 1 cup of spelt in water overnight, and then drain. Bring 3 cups of water or stock to a boil in a pot. Add spelt, cover, reduce heat and simmer until grains are chewy, about 40--60 minutes (65--80 minutes if grains were not soaked). Drain excess liquid.
The smallest known grain in the world, teff is tinier than a poppy seed. Teff can be added to cakes and muffins, eaten as porridge or used as a polenta replacement.
Health benefits: High in iron and calcium and packed full of B vitamins, helps blood sugar management, weight control and maintaining gastrointestinal health.
Eating: Mild and somewhat nutty in flavor, teff porridge makes a fantastic stand-in for oatmeal or Cream of Wheat any day of the week.
Cooking: You can dry cook teff for 6-7 minutes, with 1 cup of teff in 1 cup of water, then let it stand covered for five minutes, this will give teff the texture of poppy seeds great for sprinkling on vegetables as a topping, or for adding to soups. For a creamier end product, cook teff for about 20 minutes, with 1 cup of teff in 3 cups of water.
Sensational super grain recipes to try:
Chicken quinoa & toasted hazelnut salad
• 10 chicken tenderloins
• 2 pieces each of cinnamon bark, cardamom pods, star anise & chilli flakes
• 200grams white quinoa
• 80grams toasted hazelnuts
• 3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
• 1 Spanish onion
• 1 carrot
• 1 red capsicum
• 1 zucchini
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs
• Sea salt & cracked black pepper
• 150mls mirin
• Handful of baby spinach
• 1 litre water
Quinoa and chia seed salad
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small onion, minced
2 cups white quinoa, rinsed
½ cup chia seeds
1 1/2 cups water or (vegetable stock)
3 cups chopped kale
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup toasted pistachio or (almonds or cashews)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt flakes and black pepper
1 avocado, diced
1 lemon, juice of
Handful of baby spinach
Where to buy your grains at the market:
We have an array of places to buy your grains fresh, dried and packaged: