Monday, February 16, 2009

Whole Grains and Beans 101

So a reader pointed out that she wasn't familiar with some of the whole grains I was using and had no idea where to buy whole grains or some beans.  Hopefully this will help some!  Some of the common whole grains and beans, such as pearled barley or kidney beans, can be bought in your average grocery store.  But other varieties can be find in any store that has bulk bins or more specialized foods such as Whole Foods or other "farmers markets" or "health food" stores.  Look in the beans or grains section or look for the bulk bins.  Whole grains and beans are some of the cheapest and healthiest things to cook with!





Cooking Details

Nutritional Facts


Tiny kernels, usually pale yellow. Porridge-like when simmered, making it useful as a food thickener. Can bake or steam, as well. Available as cereal and flour. 

Earthy and sweet. Compared to beets. 

Many people add a strongly flavored liquid to this grain when cooking it—broth and tomato juice are good choices. Good when mixed with other grains and mixed with vegetables as a stir-fry. Can toast similar to popcorn and use as a breading. 

½ cup (C) amaranth flakes:
67 calories
3 grams (g) protein
1 g fat
14 g carbohydrate
2 g fiber
3 milligrams (mg) calcium
0 mg iron


Most of the barley in the US is used in beer production. Barley is chewier than rice. Barley flakes are served as a hot cereal. Grits are toasted and broken into small pieces. 

Earthy flavor. 

Generally simmered or used as an ingredient in casseroles or soups. Cooking time varies from a negligible amount of time for the preparation of grits to about 1¾ hours for hulled barley. Barley and fruit make a pleasing breakfast dish. Substitute barley for rice or pasta in almost any dish.  

½ C cooked barley:
99 calories
2 g protein
0 g fat
23 g carbohydrate
3 g fiber
9 mg calcium
1 mg iron


Kasha consists of buckwheat kernels that are roasted and hulled, and then cracked into granules. Buckwheat grits are finely ground groats.  Buckwheat flour is available in most markets. 

Strong, nutty flavor. 

Pairs well with beef, root vegetables, cabbage, winter squash, and eggplant. Buckwheat flour is commonly used in pancake preparation. Buckwheat is used as an alternative to rice as a side dish or ingredient. Buckwheat grits are served as a hot cereal. Kasha is good as a filling for meat, poultry, or vegetables.  Kasha is also excellent for cold salads. Simmer or bake kasha, whole buckwheat, and buckwheat grits. Cooking buckwheat kernels with a beaten egg prevents the kernels from sticking together. 

½ C cooked buckwheat groats:
77 calories
3 g protein
1 g fat
17 g carbohydrate
2 g fiber
6 mg calcium
1 mg iron


Steamed, dried, and cracked-wheat berries.

Earthy, nutty, and tender.

Cooks like brown rice. Substitute for rice in all dishes. Use the finely ground variety to prepare a hot breakfast cereal. 

½ C cooked bulgur:
56 calories
2 g protein
0 g fat
12 g carbohydrate
3 g fiber
7 mg calcium
1 mg iron


Extremely small, pale yellow or reddish-orange grain. Usually purchased in pearl form. 

Bland.  Absorbs the flavor of any food that it is cooked with it.  Some people say that millet tastes like corn. 

Simmer like rice. To achieve a creamy consistency, stir frequently, adding extra liquid during cooking. Steam cracked millet to make couscous. Cook as a hot cereal and add fruit, yogurt, and spices. Use in a casserole with strong-flavored vegetables. Add millet to stew, chili, and bean dishes. Add to any ground-beef mixtures without adding much flavor. Use millet in baked goods that would benefit from added texture. A good choice for grain when making flatbread. 

½ C cooked millet:
101 calories
3 g protein
1 g fat
21 g carbohydrate
1 g fiber
3 mg calcium
1 mg iron


Oat bran is created from the outer layer of oat groats and is usually sold as a hot cereal. Oat groats are whole-oat kernels, which are cooked like rice. Rolled oats are heated and pressed flat. Steel-cut oats are groats that are vertically sliced and have a chewy texture when cooked. Oats are the main ingredient of granola and muesli.    

Mild flavored.

Oat groats and steel-cut oats take a longer time than most grains to prepare. Old-fashioned oats take about 5 minutes to cook, while quick-cooking oats take only about 1 minute. All forms of oats are good eaten as breakfast cereal. Prepare groats into a pilaf and serve as a side dish. Add steel-cut oats to soups and stews. Use rolled oats as a filling for poultry and vegetables. Add toasted oats to salads, use as a breading for poultry, or add to baked goods. Use rolled oats in place of 20% of the wheat flour in yeast breads, and one part to every two parts of wheat flour in most other baked goods. 

½ C cooked quick oats:
71 calories
2 g protein
1 g fat
13 g carbohydrate
2 g fiber
13 mg calcium
1 mg iron


Quinoa grains are flat, pointed ovals. Quinoa comes in a variety of colors (pale yellow, red, and black). When cooked, the external germ spirals out, creating a “tail.” 

Delicate and light flavor. 

Rinse prior to cooking. Brown in a skillet for 5 minutes prior to simmering or baking. Good when served as a pilaf, in a baked casserole, in vegetable soup, or as a cold salad. Especially good when combined with buckwheat. Add quinoa to puddings. 

½ C cooked quinoa:
111 calories
4 g protein
2 g fat
20 g carbohydrate
5 g fiber
16 mg calcium
1 mg iron


A bluish-gray grain, similar in appearance to wheat, excerpt for the color. Rye flakes are similar to rolled oats. Whole rye berries, groats, and kernels resemble wheat berries. Cracked rye is the quickest-cooking variety. 

Robust flavor. 

Simmer rye berries with milder-tasting grains, such as brown rice or wheat berries. Combine cracked rye with cracked wheat. Combine rye flakes with oatmeal. Rye berries are good when cooked in broth with chopped nuts and raisins. Use cooked rye berries as an ingredient in poultry stuffing. Cracked rye is good when cooked in fruit juice with dried fruit. Add rye flakes to ground-beef mixtures.  

½ C cooked cream of rye cereal:
54 calories
1 g protein
0 g fat
12 g carbohydrate
2 g fiber
6 mg calcium
0 mg iron


A type of wheat.

Mild flavored.

Excellent for making risottos and pilafs. Easily added to hearty soups, stews, and chili. Best with tomato-based dishes. 

½ C cooked spelt:
123 calories
6 g protein
2 g fat
25 g carbohydrate
4 g fiber
9 mg calcium
1 mg iron


Crossbred from wheat and rye. Cracked triticale, triticale berries, and triticale flakes are comparable to their wheat or rye counterparts. Most often used as flour in breads. 

Rich, nutty, flavor. 

Brown with a little oil and then simmer. Substitute for either wheat berries or bulgur in any recipe. Use in cold salads, pilafs, stuffing, soups, or as a ground-beef stretcher. 

1 ounce triticale:
94 calories
4 g protein
1 g fat
20 g carbohydrate
0 g fiber
5 mg calcium
0 mg iron

This pre-cooked whole-grain or milled wheat is light, flavorful and a cinch to prepare. Serve it with spicy vegetables or stews.
Cracked wheat
This one is just as it sounds; it refers to wheat berries that have been cracked into small pieces.
Farro belongs to the wheat family and for good reason. It’s rich in fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, B, C and E
This ancient Egyptian wheat was recently rediscovered. It’s rich and buttery with a great, chewy texture. Look for Kamut® flakes, too, which you can use like oatmeal.
This is basically corn that has a hard protein outer layer covering its inner starch layers, and we’re betting you probably already know how to eat this one.
Steel cut oats
These are steamed and cut whole oat groats (a.k.a. hulled grains). They’re chewy and make for a particularly rustic and delicious hot cereal.
This ancient grain has a sweet and malty flavor; it’s a rich source of calcium, magnesium, boron, copper, phosphorus and zinc, too. Contains twice as much iron as wheat and barley!

Whole Grains: Cooking Tips
  1. Rinse: Just prior to cooking, rinse whole grains thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear then strain them to remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Cook: As a general rule, you can cook whole grains by simply boiling the water, then adding the grain, return water to a boil, then simmer, covered, until tender. Cooking hint: Use broth instead of water for even more flavor.
  3. Test: Just like pasta, always test whole grains for doneness before taking them off of the heat; most whole grains should be slightly chewy when cooked.
  4. Fluff: When grains are done cooking, remove them from the heat and gently fluff them with a fork. Then cover them and set aside to let sit for 5 to 10 minutes and serve.


So there you are. You've brought home those lovely dried legumes and pulses and they're staring you down on the kitchen counter. Where do you go from here? Here's a dictionary of our favorite varieties and how to make them do all the work:

Adzuki Beans
These little dark red beans are sweet and easy to digest. Splash them with tamari and barley malt or mix them with brown rice, scallions, mushrooms and celery for dynamite, protein-rich rice patties. 
Anasazi Beans
This burgundy and white heirloom variety is popular in Southwestern recipes — especially soups. It's no surprise since they make an excellent substitute for pinto beans. Make refried beans with these little treasures and you'll never look back.
Black Turtle Beans
Combine these little lovelies with cumin, garlic and orange juice or toss them with olive oil, cilantro and chopped veggies for two incomparable salads.
Black-Eyed Peas
On the search for soft, quick-cooking beans? Look no further. These creamy white, oval-shaped beans are ubiquitous in southeastern US states where they're a traditional New Year's dish. Toss them with yogurt vinaigrette, tomatoes and fresh parsley. 
Cannellini Beans
These smooth-textured beans are packed with nutty flavor. Add them to tomato-based soups like minestrone or toss with olive oil and black pepper for a satisfying side dish.
Garbanzo Beans (a.k.a. Chickpeas)
This prominent ingredient in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and East Indian dishes — think hummus and falafel — has a mild but hearty flavor. Garbanzos are a good foil for strong spices like curry powder, cumin and cayenne pepper, so add them to salads, soups and pasta dishes.
Flageolet Beans
First things first; pronounce these beans "flah-JOH-lay." This creamy heirloom bean is used in French country cuisine as a side dish for lamb and poultry. Their delicate flavor is enhanced by aromatic onions, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves and thyme. They're delicious in tomato sauces, too.
Great Northern Beans
Think of these guys as big teddy bears; they're the largest commonly available white bean, but they're all soft and mild on the inside. Great Northerns make for delicious baked beans or add them to soups and stews with longer cooking times.
Green Lentils (a.k.a. French Lentils)
Ooh la la! These lentils hold their shape well and have deep, rich flavor. They're an excellent addition to salads, spicy Indian dal or simple lentils and rice.
Green Split Peas
Give peas a chance! Split peas shine in soups where they're cooked until creamy to bring out their full, sweet flavor. Serve them with a dollop of minted yogurt for an Indian touch.
Kidney Beans
These large, red beans are popular in chili, salads, soups and baked beans. Make sure to cook them until completely tender and cooked through to eliminate the gastric distress-causing toxin Phytohaemagglutinin (Kidney Bean Lectin) that's present in raw and undercooked kidney beans.
Lima Beans
Thankfully, succulent lima beans are shedding their bad rap as the food to force-feed kids. Add them to minestrone and other soups or combine them with corn and green beans for succotash. Who knows? You might even forgive your parents.
Lupini Beans
At Italian fairs and Spanish beer halls these beans are a popular snack. Technically a member of the pea family, these flat, coin-shaped, dull yellow seeds are second only to soybeans in plant protein content. Allow for a long soaking period and extended cooking time to reduce their potential for bitterness.
Mung Beans
You probably know mung beans for their sprouts, but the beans themselves are revered as a healing food. Mung beans range in color from greenish-brown to yellow to black and have delicate, sweet flavor. They need no pre-soaking, cook quickly and are easy to digest; you can't go wrong.
Pinto Beans
A favorite in Southwest and Mexican dishes — "pinto" means "painted" in Spanish — these earthy beans have a delicious, creamy texture ideal for refrying. Combine with onions, chili powder, garlic and tomatoes as a filling for enchiladas or sauté cooked beans with olive oil, garlic and tamari.
Red Beans
These small, dark red beans are subtly sweet and hold their shape when cooked. They make a great choice for soups and chili and as a companion to rice.
Red Lentils
Don't be fooled by the name; this variety of lentil isn't really red. In fact, their soft pink color turns golden when cooked. Note that red lentils cook quickly and don't hold their shape so they're best in soups or purées or cooked until creamy with Italian seasonings.
Split Peas
While green peas are picked while immature and eaten fresh, dried peas are harvested when mature, stripped of their husks, split and dried. Split peas don't require presoaking and their mild flavor and creamy texture make good companions to garlic, onions, dill, curry and ginger.


We know, we know. Cooking dried beans takes more time than opening a can, but you'll be richly rewarded with superior flavor and texture. They're a superb value too! Here's how:
  1. Sort: Arrange dried beans on a sheet pan or clean kitchen towel and sort through them to pick out any shriveled or broken beans, stones or debris. (Take our word for it; running your fingers through the beans in the bag doesn't work the same.)
  2. Rinse: Rinse the sorted beans well in cold, running water.
  3. Soak: Soaking beans before cooking helps to remove some of those indigestible sugars that cause flatulence. There are two simple ways to get the job done:
    • Regular soak: Put beans into a large bowl and cover with 2 to 3 inches of cool, clean water. Set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight; drain well. (If it's really warm in your kitchen, soak the beans in the refrigerator instead to avoid fermentation.)
    • Quick soak: Put beans into a large pot and cover with 2 to 3 inches of cool, clean water. Bring to a boil then boil briskly for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and set aside off of the heat for 1 hour; drain well.
  4. Cook: Put beans into a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water or stock. (Don't add salt at this point since that slows the beans' softening.) Slowly bring to a boil, skimming off any foam on the surface. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary, until beans are tender when mashed or pierced with a fork. Cooking times vary with the variety, age and size of beans; generally you're looking at about 1 to 2 hours.


Sort and rinse dried peas and lentils as you would dried beans (see above). Then simply bring 1½ cups water or stock to a boil for each cup of dried lentils or peas. Once the liquid is boiling add the lentils or peas, return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until tender, 30 to 45 minutes.

Cooking Tip: Uncooked dried peas and lentils can be added directly to soups and stews, too. Just be sure there's enough liquid in the pot (about 1½ cups of liquid for every 1 cup of lentils or peas).

Info from: and

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Please help me make a difference!!

Please forgive me for the non-Heathy Bite blog post but I REALLY need everyone's help!!!

Dear Friends and Family,


I have decided to take on a challenge that will take a lot of dedication and determination; however this is also a challenge that is dear to my heart.  I have decided to train to run/walk my first half marathon (13.1 miles) and fundraise $5,800 to find a cure and improve the quality of life for those with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.  I will run/walk in the Kona Marathon on June 28 with my sister, Valerie, and Team Challenge.  Team Challenge is a fundraising program for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).


Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are known together as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are painful, medically incurable illnesses that attack the digestive system.  It is estimated that 1.4 million Americans have IBD, however many suffer in silence.  About 5 percent of people with ulcerative colitis develop colon cancer. The risk of cancer increases with the duration of the disease and how much the colon has been damaged. However, if the entire colon is involved, the risk of cancer may be as much as 32 times the normal rate.


I am running in honor of my dad, Alan.  My dad was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when he was 32 years old.  I remember how scary this time was for me and my family.  My dad lived with 14 years of suffering with this disease.  We watched him during many "flare ups", weight losses, and rounds of steroids.  As I stated before, ulcerative colitis is a very painful and often embarrassing disease.  Unfortunately my dad was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in August 2008 at the age of 46. While deeply saddened, we were not entirely shocked due to his duration of his ulcerative colitis.  He had to have his entire colon removed and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.


CCFA has become the largest organization dedicated to curing IBD.  The Foundation invests dollars wisely, funding the highest quality IBD research anywhere in the world.  The funds raised through Team Challenge directly benefit the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America to support its mission to find a cure and to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases.


I hope my effort makes a difference in fighting a disease that has affected not only my family and my dad but so many others.  This is where I need your help, I can't do this alone.  Please consider supporting me in this effort by making a tax deductable donation to CCFA.  Any amount will help me reach my goal.  You can donate online to my fundraising website at  Or if you would like me to send you a donation form please let me know.  Also please forward this message along to others who might be able to help!


My personal fundraising deadline is April dad's 47th birthday!  I couldn't think of a better birthday present to give!  Please help me reach my goal by then and help me make a difference!!


With MUCH gratitude and appreciation,


Heather Davis

P.S. If you are thinking about donating and you know my sister as well, please visit both of our websites and consider splitting your donation. Thank you! Valerie's website:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Product Review

I made taco salad tonight w/ ground turkey like I usually do but instead of using one of those usual taco salad seasoning packets I used Simply Organic's Fish Taco seasoning packet.  YUMM!!!  From now on this will be my "secret recipe" for taco meat whether in taco salad or just plain 'ole tacos.  Still need to try it on fish but I bet it will be delicious!

While I'm talking about Simply Organic seasoning packets I might as well give my opinion on the other packets I've tried.
Mushroom Sauce - Yum!  I like to grill a chicken breast, put on top of Kashi 7 grain pilaf and put this sauce on top.  Or sometimes I just saute some mushrooms and mix w/ the same whole grain pilaf and mushroom sauce.
Sloppy Joe Seasoning - not a fan...tasted like a taco.  I'll stick with my usual recipe.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pesticides in Produce

This is not a blog to tell you to eat organic, its just some information to keep you more informed.  If you are interested in organic foods this list might help you some.  Fruits/vegetables at the top of the list would be most beneficial to buy organic where foods at the bottom of the list you might want to do a cost comparison. (for more info)

The more that scientists learn about the toxicity of pesticides, the more questions are raised about the potential toxic effects on people. Pesticide manufacturers often portray these unresolved scientific issues, and the uncertainty that comes with them, as safety....Absence of knowledge is not proof of safety.

The philosophy behind the guide is simple: give consumers the information they need make choices to reduce pesticides in their diets. In this spirit, the Guide does not present a complex assessment of pesticide risks, but instead simply reflects the overall load of pesticides found on commonly eaten fruits and vegetables. This approach best captures the uncertainty of the risks of pesticide exposure and the value judgments involved in the choice to buy food with less pesticides.

Pesticides cause many adverse effects in well designed animal studies, from cancer, to nervous system damage, to reproductive effects. Rather than assign more weight to cancer than birth defects, we simply assumed that all adverse effects are equal. There is a significant degree of uncertainty about the health effects of pesticide mixtures. This ranking takes this uncertainty into account in the most defensible way possible, by simply ranking fruits and vegetables by their likelihood of being consistently contaminated with the greatest number of pesticides at the highest levels.

The Full List: 43 Fruits & Veggies




1 (worst)


100 (highest pesticide load)





Sweet Bell Peppers


















Grapes - Imported















Green Beans



Hot Peppers

































Honeydew Melon






Winter Squash






Sweet Potatoes






























Sweet Peas-Frozen









Sweet Corn-Frozen





45 (best)


1 (lowest pesticide load)