Healthy Food: Delicious Ways to Incorporate More Whole Grains

Egyptian Kushary with Spicy Cauliflower and Red Chard. (Photo by Kajsa Alger)

By Chef Kajsa Alger of Blue Window and the tea shop at The Huntington’s Chinese Garden, who is known for her creative global vegetarian and vegan fare.

Getting yourself to eat more whole grains is sort of like a Mr. Miagi/Karate Kid moment. You have to wax-on-wax-off a long time before you realize it’s how you win the fight. We all think eating whole grains sounds delicious and healthy, but acquiring the texture palate for it can take some time. I always suggest starting simple–switch out your white rice for brown rice, but don’t worry about what you eat it with. Don’t try to cut out too many things at once. Slowly start to cut that rice with grains like quinoa, hulled barley, groats, black rice, farrow…and eat it with whatever floats your boat. Don’t try to go from zero to healthy in a day or even a week. You’ll set yourself up for miserable cravings and quick failure (I know!). Replace your grits with whole grains on that shrimp and grits, eat your favorite greasy barbecue with braised greens, red beans and grains. Eventually, your body will weed out the unnecessary and you can cut down on your meat and increase your grains and vegetables. Then when I make you something like this cushy dish, you can really appreciate it!

(Pictured above) Egyptian Kushary with Spicy Cauliflower and Red Chard. To incorporate more whole grains I switched out the usual long grain rice for a mix of brown rice, buckwheat groats and black rice. That gets mixed with the usual lentils and ditalini pasta- all browned until crispy in a pan with harissa oil, cumin and lemon.

Bonus recipe after the break!

Chilled farro with greek yogurt, fresh mint and green apple (Photo by Kajsa Alger)

Chilled farro with greek yogurt, fresh mint and green apple. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt. This is adapted from a Turkish barley salad that I love to make in the spring with fava beans and mint.  Refreshing and surprisingly light. Easy to sub another grain or some unsweetened soy yogurt to make it vegan, if that’s your thang.

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