The Prudent Pantry: Whole Grain Alternatives to Rice and Bread
Image by mental.masala via Flickr
In something of a 180 from last week when I discussed the financial merits of the Paleo diet
, this week I wanted to talk about grains. It's easy to get stuck in a rut of pasta-rice-bread as the only carbs/starches in your meals (ignoring, of course, the fact that many other foods contain carbohydrates
). But there is a whole world out there of alternative grain options.
Let's explore it a bit.
: actually a seed, quinoa has a delightful, nutty flavor and is a complete protein. A meal of quinoa and vegetables is, in my book, a perfect meal. On the downside, some people think quinoa tastes like dirt.
: made of cornmeal, polenta is incredibly versatile. You can fry slices, bake it with sauce, or do just about anything else you can think of. Make your own or buy a package at the store.
: made from semolina, couscous is basically just very tiny pasta, but it has its own distinct flavor and cooks up fast. You can add just about anything you want to it, so get creative! Couscous is traditionally served with stew, and a whole-wheat variety is readily available.
: another seed, buckwheat is best known (at least in my family
) as the main ingredient in soba noodles. A great alternative to semolina pasta, soba noodles can be eaten in broth or with sauces; they make a great sesame noodle. Buckwheat also makes traditional pancakes in a number of cultures--Russian blinis, a type of French crepes, and in American the pioneers made pancakes with buckwheat flour.
These alternate grains barely scratch the surface of all the options out there! Millet, wild rice, barley, and many other options exist that are readily available. Whether you are looking to get more nutritional bang for your buck, explore different flavors, or reduce (or eliminate
) gluten intake, one of these grains may be just the thing for your kitchen.
What are your favorite grains?
Annika Barranti is a writer living in Los Angeles and blogging for the Savings.com personal finance blog as well as her personal blog, Through the Looking Glass. She and her husband are raising two children and trying to eat well on a tiny budget.