Two hearty grains, and how to make the most of them

  • By Sarah Jackson Herald Writer
  • Sunday, August 28, 2011 12:01am
  • Life

Eating whole grains, just like eating fruits and vegetables, is one of the many things experts tells us we need to do for good health and disease prevention.

But whole grains can be confusing.

Though myriad packaged products promise on their labels to deliver whole grains, many of them also contain heavily processed grains, which have been refined.

Refined grains contain far fewer vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and much less, if any, fiber.

Today, we offer a little guidance and inspiration from certified nutritionist Karen Lamphere, who teaches nutrition and cooking classes throughout Snohomish County.

Here are two whole grains and two recipes you could eat one time a week or every day for proven health benefits.


This culinary rock star, pronounced “keen-WAH,” is becoming increasingly popular for good reasons.

Technically a seed, it is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine amino acids essential for good health. One cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.

Quinoa cooks in about 15 minutes, much faster than brown rice, another whole grain. And it’s gluten-free.

Quinoa, small round spheres with little white tails, is often confused with cous cous, which is not a whole grain but a quick-cooking pasta also used for fresh salads.

Like rice, quinoa can be used in all sorts of dishes.

“It’s very versatile,” Lamphere said. “You can use it in salads, as a breakfast, as a dessert.”

Lamphere’s favorite quinoa recipe for summer is a quinoa edamame tabbouleh, studded with fresh vegetables.

Though a traditional Middle Eastern-style tabbouleh is made with bulgur wheat, quinoa, which cooks faster, is a beautiful substitute, said Lamphere, who mixes the grain with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions and mint.

“I would suggest going to the farmers market and getting some nice heirloom tomatoes,” she said. “That is going to make it taste the best.”

A dressing made with lemon juice, garlic and olive oil brings the ingredients together.

Edamame, or soybeans, available in the frozen section of most grocery stores, add extra protein to make the dish a complete meal.

“It’s just like a tabbouleh with a twist,” Lamphere said.

Steel-cut oats

You may be a longtime eater of old-fashioned rolled oats.

But if you’ve never tried steel-cut oats, you’ve never had oats in their least-refined, edible state, Lamphere said.

“They’re closer to their whole form, which is the actual oat groat,” Lamphere said.

Steel-cut oats, chopped into little pieces, taste the same as instant or old-fashioned rolled oats, but their texture is chewier and their consistency in oatmeal is a bit thicker. If you’re bored with regular oatmeal, they’re delightfully different.

Some people avoid steel-cut because they take a long time to cook, up to an hour, far too long if you’re hungry for breakfast.

Simply soaking the oats overnight cuts cooking time in the morning down to about five minutes, Lamphere said.

You can also buy precooked steel-cut oats in the freezer section of specialty stores such as Trader Joe’s, or you can make a big batch and store single servings in the refrigerator or freezer.

If you have a crock pot, you can make steel-cut oatmeal overnight, according to Food Network celebrity chef Alton Brown, who puts oats, cranberries, figs, water and half-and-half into his slow cooker to make his overnight oatmeal.

Lamphere recommends cooking oats in unsweetened vanilla-flavored almond milk.

People who eat oats regularly may be able to naturally reduce their cholesterol.

Beta glucan compounds in oats bind to cholesterol in the gut and the two are excreted from the body at the same time, Lamphere said.

People who have gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance should buy gluten-free-certified oats because some oats, which are naturally gluten free, are processed on equipment contaminated by wheat gluten, Lamphere said.


Karen Lamphere, owner of Whole Health Nutrition of Lynnwood, offers nutrition and cooking classes in Snohomish County. See or call 425-218-2310.

Quinoa edamame tabbouleh
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water, chicken broth or stock
¼ cup chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 small fennel bulb, chopped (optional)
1 to 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes or chopped tomatoes
1 cup frozen edamame (cooked per package directions)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup feta cheese, to sprinkle over top of salad (optional)

Vinaigrette dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup lemon juice

Place quinoa and water or chicken broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Mix all the ingredients (except the feta) in a bowl and toss thoroughly. To make vinaigrette, mix salt and pepper with lemon juice and minced garlic clove. Add in olive oil and mix well. Pour over quinoa and edamame mixture and combine. Marinate the salad for a half hour, if time allows. Serve with a sprinkling of feta on each portion.

Serves 4 to 6.

Overnight oatmeal
1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups water
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried figs

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients and set to low heat. Cover and let cook for 8 to 9 hours. Stir and remove to serving bowls. Start this recipe before you go to bed so your oatmeal will be finished by morning.

— Alton Brown, Food Network

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