KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Whole Grains for Everyone
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Whole Grains for Everyone

Whole grains. Those are the grains you are supposed to be getting three servings of a day. They are also possibly hiding out in mysterious jars in your pantry. Well, it's time to clean out the cupboard and begin again. Stop passing by the Bob's Red Mill display and grab some packages, because more help than ever is available to get you to use them. Three recent cookbooks combine accessibility with a very low earth mama quotient.

You know the whole grain trend has gone mainstream when Betty Crocker puts out a cookbook on the subject. Betty Crocker Whole Grains: Easy Everyday Recipes is a pretty good one too. There are recipes that use whole grain breakfast cereal and whole grain bread in addition to just the grains themselves. As the name suggests, these recipes have a tendency to lean toward the short and easy, this is not a cookbook for the aspiring gourmet chef. But it's actually a great choice for those times when you aren't feeling overly adventurous. Recipes like S'more Swirl Bread and Take-Along Oatmeal Bars appeal to the junk food junkie in all of us. The Best Ever Oatmeal Brown Bread could well become a staple in your baking repertoire and even if you're not a baker, recipes for quick breads like muffins and scones will con your significant other in thinking you are. All told, there are 140 recipes divided into chapters such as Better Breakfasts, Best Breads, Dinners in 30 Minutes, Slow Cooker Sides and Meals, and Delicious Desserts. A chart with cooking times, suggestions for flavor boosters and a full color photo of 20 different grains are all smart additions.

The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook: 150 Recipes for Healthy Living is a weighty tome. With 150 recipes and in-depth background material that includes nutritional and culinary profiles, general cooking times, and storage information, this book could have been subtitled, "everything you ever wanted to know about whole grains but were afraid to ask." For instance, did you know that whole grains make particularly tasty ingredients for salad? The whole grain salads in this book include such appealing offerings as Kasha and Beet Salad with Celery and Feta, Cranberry Pecan Couscous Salad, and Millet Salad with Lemony Chickpeas and Tomatoes.

The slimmest of the volumes, The New Whole Grains Cookbook: Terrific Recipes Using Farro, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Barley, and Many Others begins with descriptions and nutritional information for 17 different whole grains. Primarily a vegetarian book, there are plenty of company worthy dishes like Whole Wheat Potato Gnocchi with Truffle Oil and Mushrooms, Pecan and Wild Rice Stuffed Squash and Thai Coconut Fried Rice with Basil and Shrimp or Tofu. Over 75 recipes and 28 color photos will tempt you into trying something new and delicious. Don't be fooled by the emphasis on vegetarian entrees. The focus is on flavor too, as much or even more than health. Proving once and for all, whole grains aren't just for hippies.

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