Amazing Grains: Healthy Family Dinners

Whole grains offer the complete package. They're easy to prepare, delicious, and nutritious. Try a homemade version of pork fried rice or a new twist on chicken salad. Your family will never guess it's good for them.


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Winter Wheat Berry Salad

Winter Wheat Berry Salad
Makes 4

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Pork Fried Rice

Easy Pork Fried Rice
Makes 4
Prep 10 m
Cook 6-1/2 minutes

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Turkey Quinoa Alfredo

Turkey Quinoa Alfredo
Makes 4
Prep 5 m
Bake 50 m

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Skewers & Couscous

Skewers & Couscous
Makes 4
Prep 10 m
Broil 8 m

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Chicken & Barley Salad

Chicken & Barley Salad
Makes 4
Prep 5 m
Cook 10 m

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Bulgur-Stuffed Squash

Bulgur-Stuffed Squash
Makes 6
Prep 5 m
Bake 45 m
Cook 5 m

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Polenta with Cauliflower

Polenta with Cauliflower
Makes 6
Prep 5 m
Bake 50 m
Cook 5 m

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Cooking Grains

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Use these guidelines to prepare grain varieties for a simple side dish or in place of pasta or white rice in your favorite recipes.

Quinoa* Has more protein per serving than any other grain* Is considered "complete" because it contains all eight essential amino acids* Can be easily added to soups, salads, and baked goods* To cook: Rinse in cold water before cooking. Bring 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups broth or water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Yields 3 cups.

Barley* Has a chewy, mild taste
* Is protein-rich and contains a type of fiber called beta-glucan, which helps lower cholesterol* To cook: Bring 1 3/4 cups broth or water to a boil. Add 1 cup barley; reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 10-12 minutes. Yields 2 cups.

Polenta* Is made from ground yellow or white cornmeal and is traditionally a slow-cooked grain* Its high starch content makes it smooth and creamy when cooked* To cook: Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Stir while adding 1 1/3 cups instant polenta in a steady stream, continuing to stir to prevent lumps. Add water as needed. Cook for 5 minutes or more. Yields 4 cups.

Brown Rice* Rice that is stripped of its inedible outer husk but retains its vitamin-rich bran layer* Has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture
* Takes longer to cook than white rice but is available parboiled or precooked
* To cook: Bring 2 cups water or broth to a boil and add 1 cup of rice. Reduce heat and cover. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes; fluff with a fork. Yields 3 cups.

Bulgur
* Is made from wheat kernels that have been steamed, dried, and crushed
* Has a tender, chewy texture, is versatile and cooks quickly
* To cook: Add 2 1/2 cups boiling water to 1 cup bulgur. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Yields 2 1/2 cups.

Whole Wheat Couscous
* Made of granular semolina flour
* Staple of North African cuisine; cooks in 5 minutes
* Can be made to be sweet or savory as it has a mild flavor
* To cook: Bring 1 1/2 cups broth or water to boiling; stir in 1 cup couscous. Cover and let stand off heat for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Yields 3 cups.

Originally published in the October 17, 2008, issue of Family Circle magazine.