Cookbook

FYI: Recipe Note Tips - A Firm Foundation for the Food Pyramid

A Firm Foundation for the Food Pyramid
A quick glance at the infamous Food Pyramid will tell you that grains are supposed to make up the bulk of our diets. It's surprising, then, to realize what a narrow variety of grains we actually do eat, compared to the vast selection we have to choose from. Besides plain white rice, try out aromatic rice varieties such as jasmine, basmati, texmati; brown rice; couscous - including regular, flavored, whole wheat and Israeli couscous; polenta; hulled or pearled barley; bulgur wheat; kamut; millet; quinoa and triticale.

Steaming is a Snap. You say you've never cooked quinoa before? Don't worry -- if you can cook rice, you can cook any other grain, too. Most grains benefit from being rinsed first in a fine-mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Then, just place in a saucepan with water, bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and simmer until tender. Most whole grains remain a bit chewy when they are done, so don't overcook! For exact cooking times and water ratios for each grain, follow the package directions or see the cooking chart below.

Boring? No way! Add some variety to your grain dishes! Before you steam your grains, sauté them in a little bit of butter or olive oil until they're slightly browned and give off a rich, toasty aroma. Try replacing the water with vegetable or meat broth, or substitute half the water for fruit juice (switching ALL the water for juice could get a little overpowering). Match the flavor of the juice to the meal you're cooking: with a hearty autumn meal like pork roast, use apple juice to cook your grains. With an Asian meal, toss in a little pineapple juice; for a Mediterranean twist, try a splash of orange juice. Make it into a pilaf by adding sautéed veggies and herbs, or dried fruit and nuts.

Other ways to go with the grain. Grains will add flavor, nutrients, fiber and texture to all kinds of dishes. Toss them into soup, stew or chili and simmer until tender. Use cooked grains as an addition to chicken or tuna salad; season them and use them as a stuffing for mushrooms, tomatoes or bell peppers; add them to pot pies and casseroles; mix them into meatloaf; serve them as hot cereal with milk, honey and raisins; or mixed with beans or meat as a burrito filling. Try out some whole grain bread and muffin recipes too!

FYI: HOW-TO'S, WHAT-TO-DO'S & ANY-HOO'S # 28

cleaning with baking soda
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