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Arousing Appetite with Whole Grains

Arousing Appetite with Whole Grains

Hunger is the best spice.


As the one charged with the main responsibility for keeping the fires of hearth and home stoked, I know that 5 o’clock feeling when I can sense the approach of those who will be walking through the door hungry. Woe to me if supper has not begun to take some semblance of shape. And if I have a hope of trying something a little different in the department of nutrition, it had better smell really good, be hot and have a name that when they ask, “What’s for dinner?” does not arouse their suspicion.

And trust that if those warm smells beckon with delight, and then actually deliver the goods, the evening can hold great promise.

Rice Sauté with Almonds
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 celery stalk, sliced
2 cups cooked short grain brown rice
2 tablespoons soya sauce
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onions and garlic for a few minutes. Add the ginger and continue to cook. Add the red pepper and celery and sauté for a further few minutes.

Fold in the cooked rice, mix together and season with the soya sauce.

Garnish with the almonds.

Serve warm.

This is a delicious way to introduce a whole grain. The brown rice is nutty and sweet and is flavoured by the sesame oil and vegetables. Try adding corn, carrot or sweet potato also. Leftovers make great lunches.

Crunchy Grain Fall Salad
Serves 4-6

1 cup fine or medium bulgur, rinsed
1¼ cups water
Pinch of salt
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup cooked wheat berries (optional)
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 green onions, cleaned and minced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt

Bring water and a pinch of salt to boil in a saucepan with a lid.

Add the bulgur, cover and turn off heat. Let the grain sit for about 5-10 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

Turn cooked grain into a mixing bowl.

Add salad ingredients and gently mix together.

Serve at room temperature.

Bulgur is a processed form of wheat where the kernel (sometimes referred to as wheat berry) is cooked by steam, dried and then cracked. This salad has a variety of textures and colours and the combination of sweet, salty and sour flavours is very satisfying.

I sense an undercurrent of doubt in many students, who ask “how do I incorporate these whole grains into our diet?” I understand that fear. I’ve been there. I recall those ‘healthy’ suppers where I invested my heart and soul in food nobody ate. Dinner quickly became peanut butter and frustration sandwiches. Don’t ask what became of the original leftovers…can they be leftovers if no one ate it the first time around?

Guaranteed you will enjoy preparing, serving and eating these recipes, especially the next one. Quinoa is actually the seed of a fruit, not a grain, and is related to the rhubarb family. It has a fascinating profile and predicted to become a family favourite.

Roasted Quinoa with Orange and Nuts
Serves 4-6

1 ½ cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 oranges, peeled and cut into segments
1 cup toasted nuts, such as pecans, walnuts or pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 375.

If you like, line a baking tin or dish with parchment paper (to help with the clean up).

To the quinoa, add the liquids, sweetener and seasonings.

Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, check on the grain and stir to distribute it so that it will cook evenly.

When it’s done (it should look dry and lightly browned around the edges), add the orange segments.

Before serving, scatter the nuts over top.

You can add some chopped onion, or olives, or dried fruit to this dish.

This is a marvellous way to prepare quinoa. Instead of preparing it on a stovetop in a covered saucepan, this method, to me, is much nicer. Roasting simply means baking, but usually at a higher temperature and always uncovered. The liquid evaporates, as it softens and cooks, leaving behind a slightly sweeter, drier, more concentrated flavour.

December 26, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Tamar Leah, December 31, 2009 10:03 PM

A great Shabbat dish!

I can't wait to try this. Qunoa is my side dish of choice for Shabbat because it cooks so quick and is so yummy,but cooking it takes up valuable stove top space,so this will help if I'm not pressed for time-Thanks.

(5) Odelia, December 28, 2009 10:46 PM

Roasted Quinoa? Wish I'd thought of it!

Quinoa makes me miss couscous a bit less now that I'm so wheat sensitive. Stovetop quinoa is always nice and comforting but I almost always overcook it or let liquid spill over and burn on my element (stinky!). Looking forward to making roasted quinoa in the oven, and perhaps experimenting with more savoury seasonings. Thanks for this creative tip Nancy :o)

(4) Bracha Peled, December 28, 2009 3:25 PM

Thank you for these wonderful healthful recipes. It's always nice to learn new ways to implement whole grains into our daily meals.

(3) Chaiah, December 27, 2009 8:51 PM

These look great! Thanks so much!

I have been steadily switching over to whole grains and am so appreciative of these recipes which look very do-able! I discovered that short grain brown rice has a terrific nutty flavor that is unmatched by long grains, so i'm looking forward to serving your Rice Sauteed with Almonds. Thanks again!

(2) Klara LeVine, December 27, 2009 3:29 PM

What a pleasure to see the sharing of healthy recipes. For those in Israel, we are having a very special guest teacher come from 3 January - 12 January - teaching whole foods cooking in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Efrat, Ra'anana and Beit Shemesh. See

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