Family Friendly Grains

I write a regular column in the Lethbridge Journal Here is my latest submission:

It’s all the rave these days, thanks to Doctor Oz and white starch haters.  Healthy grain alternatives have hit the regular supermarkets and cook books.  They’re slowly taking the place of rice and pasta, I was going to say potatoes but come on this is Southern Alberta, nothing will make us give up our potatoes!

It’s hard to incorporate new foods into your family dinners, especially because you can’t put ketchup on couscous.  So I decided to go on a quest to try a few of these exotic kernels and rate them on a family friendly scale. The grains I tried were couscous, Quinoa, and Kasha.

My first adventure was with couscous. I’ve been a fan of couscous since my early twenties where the girls and I would head out on a Saturday night and enjoy a Moroccan feast at a little place in Calgary called The Sultan’s Tent.  Couscous is one of the staple foods of Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Algeria.

 It’s quick and easy to prepare and you can mix it up with a lot of interesting ingredients.  It’s easy to prepare since most western supermarkets carry an instant alternative. Just add boiling water, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.

I gave couscous a 4/5 for family friendly. (This score means 4/5 of my children ate this without spitting it out.)  On its own it’s fairly bland but sweeter than rice. It can be quite dry, however, the greatest attribute to Couscous is that it takes on the flavour and moisture of whatever you mix it with so doctor it up to suit your palate.

The second grain I served my corn, meat and potatoes Alberta family was Quinoa pronounced (Keen – Wa). This raw grain looks like a bag of bird seed but cooked up its light, fluffy and almost take on the appearance of fish eggs. My kids loved that analogy.  This grain’s history goes all the way back to the Incas and now it is sold in bulk.  Go figure.  It cooks similar to rice, with a cook time of 15-20 minutes.

My family gave Quinoa a 5/5 vote even after the fish egg comment.  It makes a great vegetable Pilaf but you could easily transition this grain to a breakfast food with fruit and nuts mixed in.

The last grain we tried was Kasha. I had this box of Kasha in my pantry for over six months and was a little intimidated to try it as the cooking instructions were a little more complicated.  It involved an egg, frying and boiling. The smell was a bit of a turn off as it was quite nutty and musty. (Maybe because it was in my pantry for half a year? Anyhow, we gave this Eastern European buckwheat grain dish a try.

My Family gave Kasha a 1/5 vote. The baby devoured it by the lap full and everyone else scrambled to the fridge to see what condiment would work with it.  I’m not sure I’ll give up on this super ‘good fer ya’ grain but I’ll have to do some investigation on better recipes.

Looks like Quinoa takes the prize and I’ll be sure to add that into my weekly meals.  There are a lot of great grain recipes online so take time to check them out.

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2 thoughts on “Family Friendly Grains

  1. When I make baby food I substitute quinoa for rice….it has lots of protein and a very low allergy risk. It also takes on the falvor of what it’s cooked with, so it goes great with fruit or veggies. I love to cook it for breakfast and serve it with brown sugar and milk, like oatmeal. I’ve used the flour to bake as well…it’s so versatile! I will send you the recipe for “glory bowl” salad…so yummy!

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