Go with the Grain — it’s Whole Grains Month
Originally posted for Huffington Post on 9/5/2016
Happy Labor Day and happy Whole Grains Month. From amaranth, the It whole grain of the moment, to old friends like brown rice and oats, they’re all winners. Celebrate them, enjoy them all September long. Your body will thank you.
A new Harvard study links increased whole grain consumption with reduced mortality risk. The secret’s in the bran and the germ. That’s where grains offer complex carbs for good energy and a host of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. They have fiber to balance blood sugar, lower cholesterol and make your tummy happy. Up to a quarter of whole grains’ protein and nutrients and almost all of the fiber get buffed away in processing. You deserve the whole goodness of whole grains.
You may love them for their flavor, and that makes the folks at Oldways Whole Grains Council happy. Back in 2003 when the Whole Grains Council launched, whole grains were hard to find or worse, hard to eat. The first wave of whole grain products were whole-hearted and earnest, but alas, tasted like pencil shavings.
In just over a decade, whole grain products have become more popular, more palatable and more accessible. Grab a cranberry oat scone with your morning joe. Upgrade your panini by swapping out white bread (how meh) for multigrain. Need an afternoon energy boost? Skip the latte and munch on a granola bar. Watching the game at your local bar? Have some whole grain pretzels with that beer. Or have some popcorn — that’s a whole grain, too. Whole grains are everywhere, in your favorite products and on the menu at your favorite restaurants. Look for them. You’ll be well-rewarded.
KitchriKitchri means mess, but it’s a glorious golden mess, a comforting, nutrient-dense blend of rice, lentils and healing spices including turmeric and cumin. Kitchri’s used as a cleanse in Ayurvedic medicine. In India,it’s served to new mothers and is often a baby’s first solid food. Let it comfort and nourish you, too.
- 1-1/2 cups brown rice soaked overnight
- 1-1/2 cups split mung dal or red lentils soaked
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 10-12 curry leaves optional
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 pinch asafoetida optional
- generous amount of sea salt
- 1 bunch greens — kale chard or collards, blanched, tough stems removed and leaves chopped
- optional garnishes: chopped cilantro chopped roasted cashews, sliced chili, your favorite chutney
- Rinse and drain brown rice and lentils. Pour into a large pot. Cover with cold water just to the first knuckle of your forefinger. Stir in turmeric and bring to boil. Drop in curry leaves, if you’ve got them. Reduce heat to low and cover, letting the mixture cook.
- After 30 minutes, the rice and lentils should be tender and have soaked up all the water and should be porridgy but not gloppy. Fish out the cinnamon stick and curry leaves if they bother you. Leave kitchri on low heat.
- In a small pot, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. When oil starts to shimmer, add the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds and stir. Cover the pot. After a minute, the mustard seeds will start to pop. When they’ve quieted down, turn down the heat, remove lid and add the asafoetida, if using. Stir until the asoefetida dissolves and the spices smell earthy and good.
- Tip the whole thing into the lentils and rice. Stir to combine. Add the chopped greens and sea salt. Give another stir and cover. Turn off the heat and let it rest for a few minutes so the flavors meld and everything heats through.
NotesServes 6 to 8.