Guide to Whole Grains

There's more to whole grains than brown bread! Chef Jo offers a tour of the world's finest lesser-known grains.

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Origin: Middle East.

Health Benefit: Kernels are harvested while young, so freekeh has a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than brown rice – and up to four times the fiber.

Use: As rice or pasta substitute or in soups and burger patties.

Try:Roasted Winter Squash Bento Salad

Black Rice

Black Forbidden Rice

Origin: Asia.

Health Benefit: Anthocyanins, powerful antioxidant plant pigments that lend the grain a dark color (careful, it stains easily). Gluten-free.

Use: Flour in baking or cooked grains in side dishes and salads.

Try: Thai Black Rice Salad with Wild Salmon



Origin: Africa.

Health Benefit: Gluten-free and contains gut-friendly prebiotics.

Use: In baked goods, porridge, formed into patties or cooked as hot cereal.

Try: Millet Patties with Roasted Garlic Aioli


Origin: Mediterranean regions, China and the Middle East.

Health Benefit: Manganese, a trace mineral necessary for bone health.

Use: As a meat substitute or added to pilafs, soups and baked goods.

Try: Coconut Curry Chili



Origin: Egypt.

Health Benefit: Selenium, an immune system–supporting trace mineral.

Use: As a flour in baking or add grains to pilaf-style dishes, salads, soups, stews and stir-frys.

TryArtichoke Chicken Roulades with Mushroom Kamut

Wheat Berries

Wheat Berries

Origin: No specific origin.

Health Benefit: Lignans, plant nutrients that may help reduce risk of breast cancer.

Use: In salads, hot cereal and baked goods, or sauté with mushrooms for a hearty side.

Try: Carrot-Infused Wheat Berries with Butternut Squash



Origin: Egypt.

Health Benefit: Cyanogenic glucosides, a carbohydrate that may stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol and stimulate the immune system.

Use: Semi-pearled grains in soups, pastas, risottos and casseroles.

Try: Mixed Vegetable Farro Salad



Origin: South America.

Health Benefit: Gluten-free and contains lysine, an amino acid that promotes growth and tissue repair.

Use: In hot cereal, casseroles, baked goods, pancakes, crackers or as a rice substitute.

See alsoShould You Avoid Gluten? 



Origin: Ethiopia.

Health Benefit: Bone-building calcium, gluten-free

Use: In baked goods, soups, stews, hot cereal, porridge and polenta. Traditionally used to make injera, Ethiopia’s signature flatbread.

See also6 Gluten-Free Twists You’ll Love.

Grain Storage


Whole grains contain natural oils, so they can go rancid quickly. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, ideally a pantry or refrigerator, where they will last for 3 to 6 months.

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