This section will be about teaching you the basics in cooking and how to easier organize healthy eating in your busy lifestyle.
How to cook wholegrains
I learned this when I was attending Macrobiotic cooking workshops. Same rules apply to all the grains, only the water ratios and cooking time varies, and weather you have to soak them or not.
1. Wash the grains thoroughly
2. Soak with water in correct ratio for at least 6 hours( if needed)
3. Place in a pan with water it was soaked in/or add cold water in required ratios
4. When boiling, add the salt in ratio of 1 pinch per 1 cup of grains. It is important not to do it before it boils, because the salt would harden the outer shell of the grain.
5. Set the flame to a minimum, cover tightly and cook for time required for each grain
6. Do not open or stir
7. When the time elapses, all the liquid will be gone and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Turn off the flame and keep the grains covered for another 5 minutes. This should allow the grains to release from the bottom. Then mix and leave to cool.
Hard grains that require soaking: rice, barley, oats, kamut. They are best cooked in pressure cooker because in that way they cook evenly and there’s no leaking and steam escaping while cooking.
Soft grains: millet, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat
You can make “soft grains” more delicious and flavorful if you toast them before cooking. It will give them slightly nutty flavor. If you do, then you add boiling water, instead of cold.
Rice is a grain that is most versatile ingredient in my cooking. I use it in risottos, stir fries, soups, warm and cold salads, for sushi, desserts, porridges….more or less for every category in my book.
There are so many variations of this amazing, and my favorite grain. Short grain, long grain, black, red, volcano, wild (this one isn’t actually rice at all and it’s not usually cooked alone but mixed with brown rice). Long grain rice is native to hot climates: thai, basmati, black… I use them in the summer months or for creating eastern dishes.
My “everyday” rice is short grain brown rice, and this is the way to cook it perfectly:
Ratio: 1 cup rice/2 cups water
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Keeps in fridge for 4-5 days
A wonderful gluten free grain, I mostly use for porridge, as addition to soups, for “milotto” (I know that’s not a word but it’s what I call a dish where I mix millet with veggies like in rissoto) and for making sweet deserts.
Ratio: 1 cup grain/3-3,5 -4 cups water(depending on how soft you want it to be)
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Keeps in fridge 3-4 days
Note: I usually add to amaranth in ratio 3/4 millet – 1/4 amaranth to keep the softer, creamier consistency. If you cook millet alone, as it cools down it will become very thic, like polenta.
This pseudo grain needs a thorough washing before cooking because of saponins that give it slightly bitter taste if not washed well. Best to soak them for a few minutes in hot water and rinse well. Maybe you’ll notice foam firming when you wash it.
You can find red and “normal” variety. The colored versions are a bit more rich in phyto nutrients. And usually more expensive. It’s wonderful in salads, soups and served with stir fried or sautéed veggies.
Ratio: 1 cup grain/2 cups water
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Will keep in the fridge for two days. It spoils much more easily because of high protein content
Amaranth and it’s smaller cousin Teff
Also in pseudo grains category, gluten free, very rich in protein and minerals, especially iron. I use them for porridges, puddings and in soups.
Ratio: 1 cup grain/2,5 cups water(liquid)
Cooking time: 25- 30 minutes
Note: amaranth is an exception to not stirring while it cooks. It’s best to cook it for about 10 minutes and then stir for the first time. Then stir it each few minutes to avoid burning. It’s cooked when it becomes slightly mushy. The grains will keep the bite though, kind of remain grainy, even when cooked.