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3 Easy Ways to Cook Whole Grains

July 26, 2016 by Adrienne Ngai, Registered Dietitian

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3 Easy Ways to Cook Whole Grains

You may know that whole grains like quinoa, brown and wild rice, barley and couscous are healthier options than refined grains like white rice and pasta. But what you may not know is how to cook them. Here are some tips to get you on the whole grain train!

What makes whole so grains great?

Whole grains are packed with fibre, vitamins, minerals and other compounds (including antioxidants) that are good for your health. Adding whole grains to meals and snacks can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and having a stroke and may help lower your cholesterol levels.

Here are three easy ways to cook whole grains:

  1. Stove top: Rinse the grain. In a pot, mix water or low sodium broth (see below for how much) with the whole grain, cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Stirring the grain while it cooks can make it sticky, so resist the temptation. Once the liquid is absorbed, fluff the grain with a fork and remove from heat.
  2. Rice Cooker: This is an easy way to cook grains (and not just rice!).  Simply rinse your grains, add liquid (use the amount recommended from your rice cooker’s user manual), turn your rice cooker on and wait for the magic to happen. You don’t even need to stay in the kitchen to watch it!
  3. Soaked in boiling water: This method only works for precooked grains like bulgur and instant couscous. Pour boiling water over the grain, cover it and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes to cook. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Amount of Liquid (Water or Low Sodium Broth) Needed to Cook Whole Grains

  • Barley: add 750 ml (3 cups) of liquid to 250 ml (1 cup) of dry barley to make 875 ml (3.5 cups) of cooked barley
  • Brown rice: add 625 ml (2.5 cups) of liquid to 250 ml (1 cup)  of dry brown rice to make 750 ml (3 cups) of cooked brown rice
  • Buckwheat: add 500 ml (2 cups) of liquid to 250 ml (1 cup) of dry grain to make 1 L (4 cups) of cooked buckwheat
  • Bulgur Wheat: add 500 ml (2 cups) of liquid to 250 ml (1 cup) of dry bulgur to make 750 ml (3 cups) of cooked bulgur wheat
  • Couscous: add 250 ml (1 cup) of liquid to 250 ml (1 cup) of dry couscous to make 1 L (4 cups) of cooked couscous
  • Oats, steel cut: add 750 ml (3 cups) of liquid to 250 ml (1 cup) of dry oats to make 750 ml (3 cups) of cooked oatmeal
  • Quinoa: add 500 ml (2 cups) of liquid to 250 ml (1 cup) of dry quinoa to make 750 ml (3 cups) of cooked quinoa
  • Wild rice: add 750 ml (3 cups) of liquid to 250 ml (1 cup) of dry wild rice to make 875 ml (3.5 cups) of cooked wild rice

Click here to find out how much liquid you need to cook other whole grains and about the final yield.

Note: the amount of time and liquid needed to cook grains can vary depending on the age of the grain, the type of grain, and the pans used for cooking. They are done when you find them tasty and tender!

Whole Grain Recipes

Tell us your favourite ways to add whole grains to your meals.


Related blogs

Go with Whole Grains
Gluten-Free Whole Grains

Recommended resources

Oldways Whole Grains Council
Health Canada: Whole Grains- Get The Facts

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