Healthy Cook

Just For Grains

by Kate Sherwood, June 2012

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Stretching quick-cooking whole grains is a snap. We added combinations of crunchy nuts or seeds, raw or roasted veggies, robust cheese, or citrus fruit. In each case, you end up with a great-tasting, great-for-you side dish that's ready to hit the table in 30 minutes or less. Add grilled chicken or fish and a tossed salad and you're in business.

Cool Quinoa

Total time: 20 minutes.

Look for fair-trade quinoa or use bulgur or whole wheat couscous instead. Pick a firm but ripe avocado. (For Hass avocados—the most common variety—the skin should be black and it should yield just slightly to gentle pressure.)

cup quinoa
¾
cup diced red onion
Tbs. red wine vinegar
1
large navel orange
1
Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1
avocado, diced
½
cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
¼
tsp. kosher salt
½

Prepare the quinoa according to the package instructions, then allow to cool.

Combine the onion and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside until the onion turns pink, about 5 minutes.

Cut the peel, pith, and outer membrane off the orange, then slice it. Cut the slices into bite-size pieces.

Toss all the ingredients except the salt in the large bowl with the onion, then season with up to ½ tsp. salt.

Serves 4.

PER SERVING (1 cup)

  • Calories: 260
  • Total Fat: 13 g
  • Sat Fat: 1.5 g
  • Protein: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 30 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 250 mg

Badda-Boom Bulgur

Total time: 15 minutes.

Bulgur is wheat kernels that have been steamed, dried, and cracked, so you get all the goodness and hearty flavor of wheat berries in just 10 minutes.

cup bulgur
¾
Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1
hothouse cucumber, diced
½
cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
¼
scallions, thinly sliced
3
cup reduced-fat crumbled feta-cheese
½
Tbs. lemon juice, more to taste
2
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small pot, bring 1½ cups of water to a boil. Stir in the bulgur, turn off the burner, and cover the pot. Allow the bulgur to steep for 10 minutes, then drain and put into a large bowl.

Toss the bulgur with the oil, then stir in the cucumber, sun-dried tomatoes, scallions, and feta. Season with the lemon juice and plenty of pepper.

Serves 4.

PER SERVING (1 cup)

  • Calories: 180
  • Total Fat: 7 g
  • Sat Fat: 2 g
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 24 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Cholesterol: 5 mg
  • Sodium: 260 mg

Outrageous Orzo

Total Time: 30 minutes

Don't want to turn on the oven? You can toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet on the stovetop, remove them, then use the same skillet to sauté the tomatoes and garlic in the oil.

pints cherry tomatoes, halved
2
large cloves garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise
8
Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2
cup pine nuts
¼
cups whole wheat orzo
cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼
Freshly grouns black pepper
bunch basil, chopped
1
tsp. kosher salt
½

Pre-heat the oven to 450°F. On a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, toss the tomatoes and garlic with the oil and put in the oven.

Spread the nuts on another baking sheet and put in the same oven until they're well browned, about 3 minutes. Remove the nuts and continue roasting the tomatoes until they're lightly charred, a total of 15-20 minutes.

Stir the orzo into a pot of boiling water and boil for 6 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Stir in the tomatoes and garlic. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pine nuts, Parmesan, pepper, basil, and up to ½ tsp. salt.

Serves 4.

PER SERVING (1½ cups)

  • Calories: 310
  • Total Fat: 15 g
  • Sat Fat: 2.5 g
  • Protein: 11 g
  • Carbohydrates: 38 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Cholesterol: 5 mg
  • Sodium: 330 mg

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