Good-for-You Grains Guide

Posted On Sep 17, 2014 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

Good-For-You Grains Guide

Whole grains have many benefits, including containing extra fiber. More fiber means you feel fuller longer, blood sugar levels don’t spike up and down, and it aides in heart health by helping control blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Increasing the amount of or introducing whole grains in your diet means more than swapping white rice for brown rice or white pasta for whole wheat. Although these are great swaps, the increasing variety of whole grains in grocery stores means you aren’t limited to brown rice and whole wheat pasta. The less processed the grain, the more nutritional benefits it has, including higher protein, fiber, and phytonutrients, such as, plant stanols, sterols, and lignans.

Add in some variety and try the whole grains in the table below. If you can’t find them in the rice and dry bean isle, look in the bulk bins of your local grocery store. Have leftovers? All cooked grains freeze well or can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Whole Grain Cooking Instructions for 1 cup of dry grains Nutrition Information
(per ½ cup cooked)
Amaranth Boil 2 cups water or broth; add amaranth, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • 125 calories
  • 4.5g protein
  • 2.5g fiber
  • 0g fat
  • High in iron and magnesium
Pearl Barley Boil 2 cups water or broth; add barley, cover, and simmer for 35-45 minutes.
Tip: Look for 10-minute quick cooking barley to save time.
  • 100 calories
  • 2g protein
  • 3g fiber
  • 0g fat
Bulgur Cover dry bulgur with boil water in a bowl; allow to soak for 30-45 minutes or just until softened.
Tip: Cut ground meat in soups and chili in half and replace with bulgur.
  • 75 calories
  • 2g protein
  • 3g fiber
  • 0g fat
Freekah Boil 2 ½ cups water or broth; add freekah, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.
Tip: Look for cracked freekah, which takes 20-25 minutes to cook.
  • 125 calories
  • 4.5g protein
  • 2.5g fiber
  • 2g fat
Quinoa Boil 2 cups water or broth; add quinoa, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Tip: Mix quinoa with other grains like rice and amaranth if you don’t care for its earthy flavor.
  • Complete protein
  • 160 calories
  • 6g protein
  • 4g fiber
  • 2.5g fat
Wheat Berries Boil 3 cups water or broth; add wheat berries, cover, and simmer for 45-60 minutes.
Tip: Cook a big batch and freeze extra. Mix in berries, nuts, cinnamon, milk and a touch of honey for a quick filling breakfast.
  • 150 calories
  • 6g protein
  • 6g fat
  • 0.5g fat