Whole Grain Basic Info

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Amaranth (Amaranthus)

Amaranth is a colorful crop. Technically it is not a cereal grain but a relative of spinach and chard. You may know it as 'love lies bleeding', a gorgeous garden ornamental with vivid foot long magenta seed heads. One seed head of amaranth contains over 50,000 seeds. The purple or green leaves, when small and tender, are an excellent pot herb. The seed has an intense earthy and mildly peppery taste. Compared to amaranth's brilliant reddish purple seed head, the seed itself is less dramatic in appearance. It is round, buff or sometimes dark colored and smaller than a mustard seed.

The Pueblo peoples revered amaranth as their staple since their earliest history. Farther south where it originated 5000 years ago, the Aztec regarded amaranth as sacred and used it in religious rituals. The Aztec emperor Montezuma annually collected 200,000 bushels of amaranth for tax. This tiny seed was preferred over the Aztec staple corn because amaranth is nutritionally superior to corn.

Today amaranth is valued worldwide. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has fostered amaranth's use since 1967 because wherever it is consumed there is no malnutrition. Amaranth has more protein than wheat and higher in the amino acid lysine than other grain sources of protein.

Botanists note that amaranth belongs to a remarkable group of photosynthetic super performers called the C4 group, meaning it is super efficient in converting soil, sunlight, and water into plant tissue.

Amaranth flour has a distinctive flavor and blends well with other flours for bread, crackers, and savory dishes. It is gluten free and not suitable as a wheat replacement in yeasted products.

Store whole amaranth in a glass jar in a cool dark cupboard. It will store for up to a year. If you live in a hot damp environment, refrigerate amaranth to prevent infestation. If the amaranth develops an acrid, bitter flavor it has become rancid and should be discarded.

Possibly the easiest way to cultivate an appreciation for amaranth is to add about a tablespoon to a pot of rice and cook them together, or use it to thicken a soup or stew.

Try popping amaranth. It loses its peppery flavor and becomes sweet and crunchy. Heat a thin pot over high heat (do not use cast iron or a pan with low sides). The pan must be very hot. When hot, add 2 tablespoons amaranth seeds and stir continuously until most of the grains have popped and those that do not pop are a shade or two darker.

Basic Amaranth
Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 cup amaranth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon EDEN Sea Salt (optional)
  • 1 inch piece of EDEN Kombu (optional)

Toast amaranth, stirring continuously, until the grain is lightly aromatic. Place with 1 1/2 cups water or stock in a small saucepan. Season with sea salt, oil, and kombu (optional). Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to steam for 5 minutes, covered. Remove kombu if using. Stir amaranth from top to bottom and serve.


Barley (Hordeum vulgare)

Possibly the oldest cultivated cereal, barley was the standard currency in Babylonia and the basic measuring unit in Sumeria. Barley is the most widely adaptable grain on our planet. It grows in regions as extreme and varied as the frigid Tibetan heights and the blistering sea level Sahara. Barley remains the staple of the physically strong peoples of the Himalayan region. In the west it is most commonly malted for beer.

Whole barley is a dark colored grain, larger and plumper than all others except corn. The most common barley has a tough hull and bran that adhere so tightly to the grain's starchy core that they it must be 'pearled' or shaved off until only a small white 'pearl' of barley remains. The hull of whole or 'nude' barley, which is sometimes available in natural food stores, easily thrashes off leaving its bran intact and so its vitamin and mineral content is intact and it is higher in protein, potassium, calcium, and iron than is pearl barley.

The most acid of the grains, barley is made more alkaline and flavorful by toasting it prior to cooking. The thin gruel 'barley water' is a traditional convalescing food of the British. Hulled or whole barley contains two to three times the protein of an equal portion of rice.

Barley cooks into a chewy sustaining dish. Try it plain, combined with brown rice, cooked with a pot of beans, or cooked with extra water to make a breakfast porridge. It is especially delicious cooked risotto style. Barley is a classic soup and stew ingredient and a pleasant rice substitute.

Choosing Barley

WHOLE BARLEY has its bran intact and therefore takes more time to cook. Like brown rice is to white, whole barley is darker, chewier, and more nutritious than is pearled barley. Whole barley includes hull less or naked barley heirloom varieties which easily thresh free from the hull and are an ideal grain for backyard gardeners and subsistence farmers.

PEARLED (or PEARL) BARLEY has had its bran polished off. EDEN Pearled Barley can be found in natural food stores in the bulk section (please ask for it by name). It is organically grown and milled, and has undergone less pearling than commercial pearled barley, as is indicated by its larger size.

SEMI-HULLED BARLEY has been lightly pearled (its tough hull scoured off). The demand for semi-hulled barley is not large and it is only sporadically available.

BARLEY FLAKES are like rolled oats and make a tasty substitute for oats in hot breakfast cereal, granola, and muesli.

BARLEY GRITS are quick cooking tiny chunks of barley . Use grits as a hot breakfast cereal and for a barley polenta. The grit size and therefore its cooking time varies by manufacturer.

BARLEY FLOUR is starchy, soft, and has a sweet earthy taste. It yields a cake like crumb and when baked curiously imparts a grayish color. Generally no more than 15 percent barley flour is added to a yeast bread and it imparts a more soft and dense texture. Toasting barley flour prior to use imparts a rich flavor.

BARLEY MALT SUGAR is a buff colored crystalline powder made by evaporating the water out of barley malt syrup. Malt sugar has been primarily used for brewing but it is increasingly becoming available in stores. Malt sugar absorbs moisture easily and then becomes rock hard. To prevent hardening store it in a closed glass jar.

BARLEY MALT SYRUP is sprouted whole barley, roasted and then extracted to a liquid form - that is if it's real traditional barley malt syrup. EDEN Barley Malt is one of the best quality natural sweeteners, and the only one we know of that is not made with genetically engineered enzymes or other shortcuts. Barley malt's primary sugars are maltose and thus its impact upon the blood sugar is more moderate and 'slow burning' than refined sugar, maple syrup or honey. Store barley malt syrup in a glass container in your refrigerator after opening.

Basic Barley
Makes about 3-1/2 cups

Barley is a forgiving grain and easy for beginners to work with, though it may require some experimentation. If it tastes rubbery it is not cooked, so increase the cooking time and if necessary the liquid.

  • 1 cup barley
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon EDEN Sea Salt

Heat a thin saucepan or wok over high heat. When hot add barley and toast, stirring constantly, for about 3 or 4 minutes or until the grain becomes a shade darker and many of them have popped. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. When boiling stir in toasted barley. Cover and lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for 50 minutes for whole barley or 45 minutes for pearl barley or until grain is tender but still chewy. If liquid remains, drain well. If liquid has been absorbed before barley is tender, add water, about a tablespoon at a time. Serve as a breakfast cereal with honey and milk or as a side dish seasoned with EDEN Gomasio or other savory topping or add to soups and stews.

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)

Buckwheat is a hardy rhubarb relative that thrives in cold weather and can survive and improve challenged soil. Its seed, a small, three sided buckwheat groat is the shape and rusty color of a beechnut and thus its Anglo Saxon name was boek (beech) weite (wheat). Buckwheat originated in Siberia and Manchuria and became the beloved Russian dietary staple until displaced by wheat in the 20th century. Although buckwheat is not a wheat or a cereal grain, in the kitchen it is treated as one.

Today buckwheat is grown primarily in New York, Pennsylvania, and across the Canadian frontier. The major uses for buckwheat crops are as livestock feed or for soil enrichment in planned crop rotation.

Buckwheat's most outstanding nutritional characteristic is its high proportion of all eight essential amino acids and especially lysine that at 6.1 percent is greater than any of the cereal grains. Additionally, this grain contains up to 100 percent more calcium than other grains.

Buckwheat is light in texture and quick cooking. It is also light in flavor unless the groats are pretoasted, then its flavor is strong and robust. Serve buckwheat as a hot breakfast cereal or a grain entree, by itself or cooked with other ingredients as a grain pilaf. The cooked grain may be shaped into burgers or croquettes and pan fried, grilled or baked.

Choosing Buckwheat

BUCKWHEAT or buckwheat groats are untoasted, a pale greenish white and mildly flavored. To bring up the flavor and for maximum vitality, buy untoasted groats and toast them before cooking. Buckwheat stored in a closed container in a cool, dark cupboard will hold for one year.

KASHA is buckwheat roasted to a deep reddish brown prior to packaging. It has an almost scorched flavor. Because it is pretoasted, kasha becomes stale easily and is best used within six months. For optimum flavor and energy eat buckwheat and kasha the day they are cooked. Leftovers may be refrigerated for up to a week. While cooked buckwheat or kasha can be frozen, this compromises their texture, flavor, and energetic properties.

BUCKWHEAT FLOUR is made from unroasted buckwheat groats rather than from roasted kasha. It is graded light, medium or dark depending on the amount of black hull the flour contains. The hull is rich in lysine, an important amino acid. Buckwheat flour is the primary ingredient in the most beloved Japanese pasta, soba. Buckwheat flour is also a favorite addition in crepes, blinis, pancakes and other quick breads. This flour does not lend itself to yeast bread. To store, wrap buckwheat flour tightly and refrigerate for several months or freeze for up to a year.

Basic Buckwheat
Makes about 3 1/2 cups

  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon EDEN Sesame Oil (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon EDEN Sea Salt
  • Freshly milled pepper to taste

Toast the groats in a saucepan or wok over medium high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes or until their color turns several shades darker and they emit a deep fragrance. If you wish stronger flavor yet reduce the heat and continue to toast for an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until they are deep amber.

Place water, sea salt and (optional) oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. When boiling, slowly (to prevent the water from splattering out) pour in groats. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Let steam, covered for 5 to 10 minutes with the lid on. Fluff with a fork and serve.

For a power nourishing breakfast, substitute Edensoy for half or all of the water to your taste. Add honey or barley malt to taste. To create a more warming dish, sautee the groats in the oil rather than dry toasting and/or season with garlic and ginger. Stir 1/4 cup freshly toasted sunflower seeds or chopped walnuts into the boiling water. For a crisper texture stir the seeds or nuts into the cooked buckwheat. Replace water with equal portion vegetable stock.

Corn (Zea mays)

"Joy and beauty, may the sweet maize accompany you to the ends of the earth" so chant the Navajo medicine men sprinkling corn flour to the four sacred directions. This prayer deeply acknowledges the importance of this indigenous American crop. Corn was known to and grown by all of the Indian tribes between the St. Lawrence River and Lake Titicaca. Each tribe had its own name for it but the name for maize translated to 'She Who Sustains Us', 'Our Mother', 'Our Life'.

Corn originated as the wild grass teosinte in 4000 BC in Mexico. These early corn ears ranged in size from one half inch to two inches long - about the size of common cereal grains. Like all other grain, each of the original corn grains was wrapped in its own husk.

Because corn hybridizes so readily early farmers increased its size and somehow developed a husk that encloses all of the grains on an ear. This husk makes hand harvesting easy and it also prevents the corn from seeding itself. Therefore unlike any other grain, corn cannot reproduce itself unless humans remove its husk.

Columbus returned to Spain with seeds of 'Indian Corn' in 1493. Corn quickly spread around the world, following the trade routes of the early Portuguese navigators. Today it remains an important crop not only throughout the Americas but also in the European Danube basin and Po valley, and in parts of Africa, China and India.

In the United States we eat only 1 percent of our domestic corn crop. Livestock feed accounts for about 90 percent with the remainder helps produce paper, textiles, paints, explosives and plastics. The United States produces nearly 50 percent of the world's corn, primarily in the Midwest. There are more maize varieties than any other crop species with over 10 major racial complexes in the United States alone.

Commercial corn is one of the ten most common food allergens. Many people who are allergic to common commercial corn products find they can eat popcorn and the nutritionally superior blue corn, masa, or posole. Corn as an ingredient is found in over 3000 grocery food items in a highly refined inferior form. Please reject genetically engineered corn including all refined corn products and ingredients. GE corn and other crops are polluting our environment and are untested for long term human safety.

CORN FLOUR and CORN MEAL are ground dried corn. They may be ground from whole or degerminated corn. Degerminated corn has an indefinite shelf life, but it is highly refined, chemically enriched and has little flavor. Choose products made from ground whole corn instead. Corn meal is coarser than flour and is most often used in muffins, corn bread, or polenta. Favor stoneground corn flour for its superior flavor and baking properties. Because whole corn has a high oil content, ground corn meal and flour quickly become rancid. To avoid rancidity purchase them frequently in small quantities and refrigerate in a tightly covered container.

FRESH CORN can be eaten on the cob or the kernels may be removed from the cob, either when raw or cooked, and used as is or in a variety of dishes. It is best eaten freshly picked during the 'corn months' of July and August.

DRIED SWEET CORN (also known as chicos and shaker dried corn) is dehydrated kernels of sweet or green corn. Drying intensifies the sweetness and gives the rehydrated kernels a deep, caramel taste. Traditionally the corn is dried on racks in the sun or on top of wood stoves in the north or in large adobe ovens of the pueblo peoples in the southwest. When the dried kernels are rehydrated in water or broth they release an earthy sweet burst of flavor and have a chewy, filling texture. They are used in an authentic succotash, stews, soups, pilafs and as the balance combined with beans.

HOMINY (also known as posole) is parched, dried corn kernels which traditionally were steeped in a bath of slaked lime or some other form of lye to loosen the hull and germ and to partially cook the kernels. Hominy is now boiled in a solution of water and sodium hydroxide to achieve the same result. The hulls and germ are then washed from the plumped kernels. This wet hominy may be canned, ground into fresh masa or dried for later reconstitution. Whole, hominy is used in soup, stew or as a side dish.

MASA is dough ground from hominy. Although the Spanish "masa" literally means dough, it is dough made from corn hominy that is implied when applied to Mexican, southwestern, or Native American cooking. Freshly ground masa usually comes in two grades, fine (or masa para tortillas) and coarse, (or masa para tamales). It is this dough that is used to make tortillas, tamales, enchiladas and other standard corn dough recipes. Masa harina is simply hominy that has been dried and then ground to a mealy flour.

GRITS result from the largest grinding of hominy. They can be yellow, white, or blue, and are either fine, medium or coarse in texture. Grits are available in regular, quick and instant cooking varieties. Coarse stone ground grits are the most flavorful. Grits are used as a part of a breakfast meal, as a porridge, with a variety of seasonings as a main course, or in casseroles.

POLENTA is corn meal ground from dried orange dent corn, a variety that is very high in beta carotene. Fine ground polenta is used in baked goods. Coarse is used for the traditional corn meal mush of Italy.

POSOLE is the Mexican word for hominy. It is also the main ingredient of a traditional New Mexican stew called by the same name. Posole is available frozen or dried and in both forms requires additional cooking.

HUITLACOCHE is a somewhat scarce delicacy. It is a mushroom like black fungus found during the rainy season on a few corn ears in a few parts of Mexico.

CORN OIL is extracted from the corn germ which is a by-product of commercial corn products. Most corn oil is highly refined and should be avoided.

CORN STARCH is highly refined starch which is used as a thickening agent in sauces and soups. It has twice the thickening power of flour, however as a refined product it always contains GEOs and should be avoided.

CORN SYRUP is a highly refined commercial glucose made from chemically purified cornstarch. It is a refined sugar that very probably contains GEOs and should be avoided.

Job's Tears - Hato Mugi (Coix lacryma-jobi)

This heirloom grain has been highly valued in Africa and Asia for centuries.

A Western use of Job's tears is as a bead that's strung for rosaries or jewelry. Its black impervious hull makes it a sturdy bead. Throughout the world, this tall grass has several names that include the word for tears because of its teardrop shape (Latin lacryma). The Biblical name Job was apparently added because Job had a lot to cry about.

Once hulled, Job's tears looks like a giant, pearl gray barley. Although mugi in its Japanese name suggests it is a barley, Job's tears is not a variety of barley.

Job's tears is one of the few non hybridized grains available today. It has excellent nutritional composition, high in carbohydrates, potassium, protein and fiber and low in fat. A commercial domestic crop of Job's tears has not yet been developed and as a whole grain it has limited availability in the U.S.

Throughout Asia, Job's tears are used in soups and as a grain entree. The flour is used in beverages and as a baking ingredient.

To prepare Job's tears always pick through the grains to remove any that are tan as they will shed a bitter taste on the whole pot. High quality organic Job's tears available at natural food and some specialty markets will rarely contain tan grains. With a taste similar to kasha, Job's tears are particularly appealing combined with other grains or used in salads, soups and stews to add texture and nutrition.

Try Job's tears in place of rice with Asian stir fried vegetables or in place of barley in soups, salads and stuffing. Soak Job's tears prior to use. They require longer cooking than barley and are less sticky than either rice or barley. Combine with rice or another grain or add to long cooking soups.

Basic Job's Tears
Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 cup Job's tears
  • 2 cups water (plus more for rinsing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon EDEN Sea Salt

Wash and drain Job's tears well. Place in a thin saucepan or wok over high heat. Toast, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until grains are very dry and aromatic and begin to make crackling noises. Bring water and sea salt to a boil over high heat. When boiling, carefully add toasted Job's tears, watching that the water does not sputter up. Lower heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove from heat and let rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Kamut (Triticum polonicum)

Kamut is a large golden durum wheat relative with a rich delicious flavor. Due to several curious twists of fate, this ancient wheat was saved while thousands of irreplaceable wheat varieties were lost in the 1940s. Six thousand years ago kamut was an important grain in the Nile region. For three millennia it thrived until the conquering Greeks displaced it with their favorite wheat, a red durum. However in some isolated fields, generations of farmers so valued kamut's unique flavor that they continued to grow it.

Thirty six kernels of this giant wheat were given to a Montana airman stationed in Portugal in 1949. He was told they had been "... gathered from a stone box in an excavated tomb near Dahshur, Egypt." The airman mailed the seed to his wheat farming father, who grew them out and showed them off at the county fair as 'King Tut's wheat'. The story of these grains being preserved since the time of the pyramids makes a good story, but story it is. All seeds have a limited life span due to their fragile fatty acids.

The grain was not as high a producer as modern hybrid wheat and so soon it went to cattle feed and was forgotten until 1977 when organic farmer Bob Quinn remembered seeing King Tut's wheat at the fair in his youth. Mr. Quinn ferreted out a single pint of the giant wheat, named the grain kamut, which means wheat in Egyptian, and it is available today as a whole grain flour and in products such as EDEN Pasta. Not known or grown in Egypt today, this priceless artifact survives in Montana fields unscathed by contemporary breeding techniques.

Kamut is delicious cooked whole. When ground it makes rich flavored bread, pasta, and baked goods. Of the varieties of whole grain wheat, kamut is unique in that it is less chewy so it may be substituted for softer grains like brown rice in salads, pilafs and stuffing. Kamut is richer tasting than most grain. Because it is an heirloom food, many people with wheat sensitivity can enjoy it in good health.

Basic Kamut
Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 cup kamut
  • 1 3/4 cups water or unsalted stock

Wash kamut and drain well. Heat a thin saucepan or wok over high heat. Add the kamut and after the first grain pops, stir constantly for 3 minutes or until it turns a darker shade. Set aside. Place water or stock in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. When boiling, add kamut. If the kamut is still hot, add slowly to prevent sputtering. Return to the boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 50 to 60 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender but still a bit chewy. Remove from heat and allow to steam, covered, for 10 minutes. Serve hot as a cereal or side dish or use in soup, stew, pilaf or salad.

Millet (Paniccum miliaceum)

If you've ever examined bird feed, millet is the round yellow tan seed that's a little smaller than a peppercorn. Removing millet's outer hull reveals a golden nubbin of grain that can enhance any meal with its mildly sweet flavor reminiscent of corn and almonds. Millet may be soft like a polenta or light like a pilaf. It is a most adaptable cereal grain and one that's especially valued by people who are allergic to common grains.

Our table millet refers to a variety named proso that originated in northern China over 5000 years ago. Elsewhere millet is a generic term for at least five different small and unrelated cereal grains. Millet was introduced by the Mongols into the Mediterranean and is frequently referred to in the New Testament. Into the Middle Ages millet was a dominant crop because it was easier to grow than wheat. Reliance upon millet lessened as higher volume wheat varieties appeared in the west and as higher volume rice varieties appeared in Asia. In impoverished areas of Africa, Asia, and India millet is still relied upon.

Millet is high in protein and has significantly more iron and silicon than other cereal grains. It is gluten free and very rich in amino acids, phosphorous and B vitamins. Due to its high alkaline ash content, millet is the easiest grain to digest. This unusual makeup allows millet to be cooked without salt and yet be alkaline rather than acidic.

Millet flour is a starchy flour that is similar in texture to rice flour. It yields a dry, delicate crumb with a pale yellow color. Fresh millet flour has a distinctive sweet flavor. When old it is bitter and should be discarded. Millet flour is sold in health food stores, but since it turns rancid and bitter quite rapidly it is best to grind it as needed in a spice grinder or grain mill. Because millet has no gluten, its flour is best used in small amounts with wheat or barley flour for cookies and cakes. For sauces and some cookies and flat breads, it may be used alone.

Whole cooked millet is a light fluffy pilaf with a mild nutty flavor. Increase the liquid to 3 cups for a smooth, mashed potato like texture. Millet can be eaten alone as a cereal or side dish or cooked in combination with other grains in bread, soup, and even in desserts. It is a superior grain for stuffing vegetables or poultry. Whole soaked millet adds delicious crunch when added to wheat bread.

As millet has a more fragile shelf life than the other grains, purchase it in small quantities preferably from a natural food store. Store millet in a cool pantry if you live in a dry cool climate or refrigerate if you live in a warm damp environment. Millet with an acrid harsh aftertaste is rancid and should be discarded.

Basic Millet
Makes about 4 cups

  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 1/4 cups boiling water or stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon EDEN Sea Salt

Place millet in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Toast, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until millet it is lightly aromatic and begins to pop. Reduce heat if necessary to prevent scorching. When millet is toasted remove from heat. Pour into a strainer and rinse under running water for 15 seconds or until the water runs clear. Shake out excess water and add millet to boiling, seasoned water. Return to the boil, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Turn off heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes. Fluff millet with a fork and serve immediately with any gravy, sauce, topping, or condiment. With moistened hands, form leftover millet into small cakes, season and pan fry.

Oats (Avena sativa)

How your oats turn out depends upon what kind you use and how you prepare them. The important thing is to start with quality oats, cook them to your taste, and then enjoy frequently. Fresh oats have a sweet pecan like flavor and are deeply nourishing.

Cultivated oats are native to northern central Asia but found a permanent home in the British Isles and other cold damp climates. That oats were the Celt's staple grain is reflected by the number of their oat dishes includingaran isenach, bannock, broonie, atholl brose, farl, skirilie, sowans, haver, struan micheil, hodgilsand kaaka.In the U.S. oats are grown primarily in the Midwest.

Oats were the first food permitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be labeled as a benefit in helping to prevent heart disease by reducing cholesterol. In traditional medicine oats support the entire system to move from imbalance to a state of healthy balance.

Oats contain the highest percentage of sodium and fat (unsaturated) of any grain, and also an antioxidant which delays rancidity. They are high in protein with an amino acid content similar to wheat. They also contain B vitamins, calcium and fiber. Only the outer husk is removed during milling, so oat products retain more of their original nutrients than do refined wheat products.

Because of their antioxidant properties, oats have long been used to extend the shelf life of baked goods and to provide a delicate sweet flavor. Whole or steel cut oats are tasty in pilafs, stuffing, casseroles, and porridge. Steel cut oats are a flavorful substitute for bulgur, rice, couscous or pasta in a grain salad. Besides the obvious hot cereal dish, rolled oats thicken soups and add excellent texture to breads, cookies, muffins, pancakes and waffles. They are also the primary ingredient in muesli and granola. Unlike other grains, oats must be steamed before their two inedible outer hulls can be removed. As with other grains the more processed an oat is, the more its flavor and nutrients are compromised.

Choosing Oats

WHOLE OATS are similar to long-grain brown rice in color and shape; and they take as long to cook as does brown rice. Oat groats are rarely cooked whole.

STEEL CUT OATS are oat groats cut into two or three pieces. Steel cut oats cook in less time than whole oats, and have a more pleasing texture. Also called Scottish or Irish oats.

ROLLED OATS are made by flattening whole oats between two rollers. Less pressure is used for thick (old fashioned) flakes than quick cooking rolled oats and because less surface is exposed to air, the thicker oats retain more flavor and freshness.

INSTANT OATS are best left on the shelf. They are processed into tiny particles and have added sugar, salt and flavorings.

OAT BRAN is composed of the fibrous outer layers of whole oats. It is buff colored and a rich source of water soluble fiber. In the 1980s two reputable university studies showed the efficacy of oat bran to reduce serum cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease in humans.

OAT FLOUR is buff colored with a light fine texture and is good to combine with other flours like wheat, barley, millet or rice. Oats have a natural antioxidant that helps keep baked food fresh. To make your own oat flour, whir rolled oats in a blender until they are pulverized to the desired consistency. For fresher flour grind whole oat groats using a flour mill, coffee grinder or spice mill. For 1 cup oat flour use 2/3 cup oat groats or 1 1/2 cups oatmeal. Oats contain very little gluten, thus oat flour when not combined with wheat is best in unleavened flat breads or waffles.

Basic Oatmeal
Makes about 4 cups

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch of salt

Place oats in a saucepan and dry roast over low heat, stirring slowly, until they release a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes. Add water and salt, stir and bring to boil, reduce heat to lowest setting and cover. Cook for 30 minutes, stir and serve.

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa)

Native to the high altitude valleys of the Andes is the tasty and versatile grain quinoa (keen' wa). Quinoa was so revered by the Incas as their mother grain that the conquering Spanish denigrated it and forced the people to grow barley for Spanish style beer. In time quinoa became associated with impoverishment. Until very recently the Aymara and Quechua peoples of the altiplano believed that if they fed quinoa to their children it would make them stupid. As these indigenous peoples could afford it, they favored the upper and middle class foods, pasta and white bread, over what they once esteemed as their sacred grain.

Fortunately North American interest in quinoa is helping reinstate the status of the mother grain in its homeland. Imported quinoa was first marketed in the United States in 1984. Today quinoa is available in restaurants and stores throughout the Americas.

A member of the goosefoot family and relative of spinach, quinoa is a stately and colorful plant. The plant flourishes under extreme ecological conditions including high altitude, thin cold air, hot sun, radiation, drought, frost and poor soil. Although most quinoa varieties grow best at 10,000 feet and above, some varieties grow as low as sea level.

Quinoa is not a true cereal grain but is used as one. About the size of millet, the periphery of each disk shaped grain is bound with a narrow germ or embryo. When cooked, the wispy germ separates from the seed and its delicate, almost crunchy curlicue makes a great contrast to the soft grain.

Quinoa is a high energy grain and is easy to digest, making it an ideal endurance and fitness food. Because quinoa is a non cereal grain, it is favored by people with food sensitivities and allergies to the common grains.

The United Nations World Health Organization observes that quinoa is at least equal to milk in protein quality. Quinoa has the highest protein of any grain (around 16 percent) and unlike other grains, is a complete protein with an essential amino acid profile similar to milk. Quinoa contains more calcium than milk and is high in lysine, an amino acid that is scarce in the vegetable kingdom. It is also high in methionine and cystine, making it complementary to beans which lack in these amino acids. Quinoa is a rich and balanced source of many other vital nutrients, including iron, phosphorous, B vitamins, and vitamin E.

Quinoa flour is an excellent gluten free wheat flour alternative. It has a rather strong flavor and so is best used in combination with other flours or in strongly flavored baked goods or quick breads. Whole quinoa is so easy and quick to cook that it becomes a favorite staple of everyone once tried. Substitute quinoa freely for rice, millet or couscous in any recipe. It is delicious alone or as an ingredient in soup, pilafs and casseroles. For an upscale 'rice' pudding substitute quinoa for the rice.

Basic Quinoa
Makes about 2 1/2 - 3 cups Cooked

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cups water (plus more to wash)

Wash quinoa well before cooking to remove the bitter saponin that coats it. Place 1 cup of quinoa in a bowl, add water to cover and using the palms of your hands, lightly scrub for about 10 seconds. Strain out the washing water and repeat this process. Pour all of the quinoa into the strainer and run fresh water over for 5 to 10 seconds, or until the water runs clear. Place washed quinoa in 2 cups of boiling water, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 12 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Allow to steam, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Rice (Oryza sativa)

Rice is the staple for six out of every ten people in the world. Although wheat is a close second, rice has an advantage for third world peoples. It can go straight from the field into the pot and is primarily eaten intact while wheat is first ground in tiny particles.

Macrobiotic teacher Michio Kushi observes that eating a whole rather than fragmented grain supports a holistic life view. In the west our staple, wheat, is usually fragmented and similarly our philosophical and scientific outlook is also usually specialized rather than holistic, tending to dissect rather than observe. Along these lines, it is notable that in the U.S. the alternative medicine movement sprang from the natural foods movement, which celebrates brown rice as an important staple.

Rice has been cultivated in Asia since 7500 BC. There are countless rice varieties. Most are buff colored when whole and unrefined, and some are red, brown, amber or black. When the colored and tough bran layer is removed, the result is white rice which requires less cooking time. Some of the darker colored specialty rice varieties are partially refined (scarified) which leaves some of their bright color and reduces cooking time.

The four main rice varieties, which may be any color, are determined by the proportion of their starches amylase and amylopectin. Long grain rice has kernels that are up to five times longer than they are wide. It cooks up dry and fluffy because it contains the least amylopectin. Medium grain is up to three times longer than it is wide, and is a bit stickier than long grain. Short grain is fat, almost round, and more sticky. But the stickiest, and the one with the most amylopectin, is the opaque glutinous or sweet rice that cooks into a dense sticky mass.

Rice may be precooked and sold as parboiled (converted) or instant rice as a convenience food. Each is nutritionally inferior to cooking it yourself from the whole grain.

Sweet or glutinous rice is more warming than regular rice and is believed to strengthen the kidneys, spleen, and stomach. Though it is called glutinous rice, people with gluten sensitivities can enjoy sweet rice. Glutinous rice does not contain the peptide gluten found in wheat and some other grains.

Rice is high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and low in sodium. Brown rice is highest of all grains in B vitamins. It contains iron, vitamin E, amino acids, fiber, and linoleic acid. Short grain brown rice contains less protein but more minerals, and is heartier and more strengthening than long grain. By law white rice is artificially enriched with iron, thiamin and niacin.

You can enjoy rice every day and never get bored. The more it's chewed, the more delicious it becomes. Most other grains are processed into less energizing flours or flakes. Rice goes with any meal or dish, from soup to comforting desserts like rice pudding. Worldwide, rice is featured with beans for satisfying and wholesome protein rich meals.

Short grain rice holds moisture better than does long grain and so yields a stickier, more substantial dish that historically is preferred in colder regions. Light and fluffy long grain is preferred in warmer climates. Brown rice requires longer cooking, more chewing, and yields a more filling dish than does white rice. Sweet rice is used to make the traditional Japanese dishes amasake and mochi. In Thailand and some regions of China, a black variety of sticky rice is popular.

In arid and temperate regions whole grain brown rice stores for a year or more in a cool dark place. Store it in a covered container or tightly wrapped. If you live in a hot and humid climate you may prefer to store rice in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent infestation. Because the germ of white rice is removed it may be stored indefinitely. Cover tightly and store in a cool dark place.

Rice flour has a light nutty flavor and adds crispness to breading, coatings, cookies and crackers. Brown rice flour delivers whole grain flavor and nutrition but with a light color. Rice flour is gluten free and so is a popular alternative for people who have gluten sensitivities. Due to its gluten free property however, rice flour cannot be used alone for bread or leavened products.

Basic Brown Rice
Makes about 4 cups

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water (plus more for rinsing)
  • 1 teaspoon Eden Sea Salt (optional)

Rinse rice well and place in a saucepan with water, salt, and oil (optional). Cover, bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat until the rice is tender, about 1 hour. While some recommend a shorter cooking time, a full hour yields a superior texture and flavor. Allow to steam with the lid on for 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff and serve.

Rye (Secale cereale)

Rye is a close relative to wheat but with darker and more slender kernels and a rich robust flavor. Consider which ethnic groups brought their beloved rye breads to the United States; Germans, Scandinavians, Russians and Poles, and it is apparent that this grain survives frigid temperatures.

While the origin of other grains can be traced to ancestral wild grasses, rye abruptly appeared at a much later date as a grain field weed in Asia Minor. It became a European staple throughout the Middle Ages. However wheat displaced rye in warmer climates as higher volume wheat varieties developed, and because it is easier to make bread from wheat than from rye. Rye remained the favorite in frigid northern soils and in depleted soils.

Rye's strong flavor matches its strong weed like hardiness and its ability to strengthen muscles, promote energy and endurance.

Nutritionally rye is similar to wheat but it contains less gluten. Of the common grains, rye has the highest percentage of the amino acid lysine. It contains eleven B vitamins, vitamin E, protein, iron, plus various minerals and trace elements.

Whole grain rye flour is a shade darker than whole wheat flour and is available primarily in natural food stores. Dark colored pumpernickel flour is rye plus an added coloring such as caramel. The rye flour from supermarkets is degermed with the dark flour containing more bran. Rye flour is mildly sweet and may be combined with another flour to make quick breads, corn bread, muffins, and waffles. Sour dough rye bread gains its characteristic sour flavor from the starter, not the rye. Bread containing rye stays moist longer than an all wheat loaf and slices thinner. Traditional gingerbread desserts were made of rye flour. You'll also find rye in Swedish hardtack crackers.

Cracked rye is a good breakfast dish. Flaked rye is used like rolled oats for a breakfast cereal and in granola. Rye berries are rarely cooked whole though they are good this way. A few cooked into a pot of rice adds nice flavor. Rye berries will store for a year or more when tightly wrapped or in a glass storage container, in a cool, dark, dry environment. If you live in a humid and hot area, to prevent infestation purchase small quantities of rye and use within a few months or else refrigerate or freeze the grain.

Basic Rye
Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 cup rye berries, rinsed
  • 2 cups water (plus more for draining)
  • 1/2 teaspoon EDEN Sea Salt

Rinse rye well and place it in a saucepan with water, salt, and oil (optional). Cover, bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat until the rye is tender about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to steam for 5 to 10 minutes, covered. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Wheat (Triticum aestivum)

The common ancestor of all wheat is called einkorn, first cultivated 8700 years ago in present day Iraq. Because wheat is the world's most important carbohydrate crop and the most widely distributed cereal grain, it is grown in nearly every country and in each of the United States. In many cultures wheat is now the staple grain, having replaced amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, and wild rice.

Whole wheat nurtures the heart. It is believed to calm and focus the mind, relieve stress and mental health symptoms. In traditional medicine wheat supports the spleen, liver, and kidney meridians. Like rye, wheat is good for the musculature.

Since 1926 wheat has been hybridized and otherwise tampered with and highly refined. According to food expert Paul Pitchford, author of Healing With Whole Foods, this may explain the many common allergies to wheat. Whole wheat contains thirteen B vitamins, vitamin E, protein, essential fatty acids and important trace minerals such as zinc, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus.

Wheat berry is the term applied to whole wheat with just the outer hull removed. Because they're so chewy, whole cooked wheat berries are rarely eaten alone, but a tablespoon or so adds great texture to a pot of brown rice or other whole grain.

Thousands of wheat varieties exist but three types are commonly used for human consumption: hard, soft and durum. Additionally wheat is defined by the season it is sown in. Care in handling and milling determines quality, so please choose wisely.

Choosing Wheat

EDEN PASTAS are made from organic heirloom quality grain such as Golden Amber Durum Wheat. Always favor organic heirloom wheat varieties like EDEN wheat berries and flour available in bulk in natural food stores (please ask for it by name).SPRING WHEAT is a fast-growing crop grown where winters are severe. It's sown in the spring and harvested in the fall. Spring wheat is the grain of choice for bread making, as it generally has the highest protein content.

WINTER WHEAT is sown in the fall where winters are mild; it germinates; then lies dormant through the winter, and starts growing again in the spring and is ready for harvest in June. Because it has a longer growing season it establishes a more extensive root system and is therefore higher in minerals.

HARD WHEAT has a higher protein (gluten) content and is used for bread. It is typically rust colored and the kernels are plump; however there are some white (actually buff colored) varieties.

SOFT WHEAT contains more carbohydrate and less gluten than hard wheat, so it is not suited to bread making, but it's the wheat for making pie crusts. Soft wheat come in two varieties, red and white, and is primarily used for crackers and pastries.

DURUM WHEAT is used primarily for pasta because its hard starch granules hold together even in boiling water. Semolina is refined, or white durum flour. Most pasta and couscous are made from semolina. Superior whole grain durum products such as EDEN Organic Pastas are rare.

BULGUR has remained a favored staple in the eastern Mediterranean region where wheat originated. Bulgur is chewy and has a friendly familiar flavor reminiscent of whole wheat toast. Bulgur was traditionally made by boiling whole wheat berries in huge outdoor cauldrons, sun drying, and cracking into a fine, medium or coarse grade. The finer the grade, the less cooking is required. Dark bulgur is made from hard red wheat. White bulgur is made from soft white wheat and has a more delicate flavor. The product called cracked wheat is sometimes mistaken for bulgur but is not a bulgur substitute. Bulgur is easier to digest than whole wheat and well conveys wheat's energetic properties. Unlike whole wheat, the fatty acids have been exposed to oxygen and light and so are denatured. Purchase bulgur that smells fresh and nutty. Purchase a three month supply at a time. Store airtight in the refrigerator or freezer.

WHEAT BRAN: Six fibrous protective layers of the wheat berry are resistant to digestion and thus are an effective bowel regulator because they add bulk and fiber to the diet. A more sensible choice is to eat the whole grain. Bran accounts for 15 percent of the wheat kernel. In addition to its indigestible cellulose, it is also a rich reserve of nutrients. In a wheat berry, the bran contains 86 percent of the niacin, 73 percent of the pyridoxine, and 50 percent of the pantothenic acid, 42 percent of the riboflavin, 33 percent of the thiamin and 19 percent of the protein.

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR when ground from the hard whole wheat berry contains all of the 40 plus nutrients of the wheat and has a rich full taste. However once milled, the fatty acids in the wheat germ start to oxidize and may become rancid. Buy whole wheat flour in small quantities and keep it in a tightly closed container in a cool dark pantry or in the refrigerator.

WHOLE WHEAT PASTRY FLOUR is made from whole soft wheat berries and is preferred for delicate baked goods. Because it is low in gluten, it is unsuitable for bread. This flour requires the same care as whole wheat flour.

BLEACHED ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR is made of refined hard and soft wheat and processed with up to 30 chemicals. By law, all refined flour must be 'enriched' with four synthetic nutrients. Self-rising all-purpose flour also contains leavening and salt.

BOLTED WHEAT FLOUR is made with a technique developed by the Romans. Ground flour is sifted through a bolt of coarsely woven cloth to remove hulls and a large portion of the bran and germ. Bolted flour retains 20 percent of its bran and all of the germ. It has limited availability today.

BREAD FLOUR is high gluten blend of refined 98 percent hard wheat flour which contains malted barley to improve the yeast activity. It may or may not contain potassium bromate to increase the gluten's elasticity.

DURUM FLOUR is made of 100 percent durum wheat and is used primarily for whole wheat pasta.

CAKE FLOUR is a fine textured soft wheat flour that is low in gluten. Self rising cake flour contains 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt per cup of flour.

GLUTEN FLOUR is high protein hard wheat flour with a reduced starch content and a gluten content of at least 55 percent. Bakers often add a small percentage of gluten flour to bread to yield a lighter loaf.

SEMOLINA is ground from refined durum wheat and is used primarily for pasta.

UNBLEACHED ALL PURPOSE FLOUR is a nutritionally sterile food made from wheat refined of its bran and germ and therefore it cannot become rancid. By law it must be chemically enriched but it is a less processed food than bleached flour.