Skip the pasta and add more whole grains to your diet

Elisabeth Dillon

Many college students may get their daily intake of grains from the rice in Chipotle burritos. But the field of whole grains extends far beyond rice and offers endless nutritional benefits that require minimal effort.

Grains should be stored in a dark and cool place in sealed containers. Otherwise, light and heat can make them go rancid.

As a general rule of thumb, cook grains on the stove top in water for 15 minutes with a lid on. Then, let the grains sit before fluffing and serving them. Use vegetable broth for more depth and flavor. Grains each have different ratios of liquid they should be cooked in.

Grains can also be soaked overnight in water to reduce the cooking time needed. Another more nutritious option is to sprout grains. The entire process takes about three days, depending on the grain, but the actual work involved is just a few minutes. Through a repeated process of soaking and draining grains, you’ll get sprouts, which can be used in salads, in soups or on toasts.

Wheat berries are unprocessed whole wheat kernels most typically grounded into whole wheat flour. They are a particularly dense and chewy grain, best used tossed into salads. The berries are rich in magnesium and vitamins B1 and B3.

When fermented and used for beer, barley is a whole grain most beer lovers are already familiar with. Barley is more nutritious — albeit arguably less fun — when simply cooked in water and then mixed with crunchy, fresh vegetables for a hearty salad. Try it in the summer with fresh grilled corn.

The world’s smallest grain is teff. It’s typically ground into flour and used to make things such as Injera, an Ethiopian bread. Teff, like all other grains, can also be cooked in water and used to make sweet porridges.

Millet is a more versatile whole grain. Depending on the amount of water it’s cooked in, it can resemble either couscous or a creamy polenta. It’s high in copper and fiber and is known to be a heart-healthy grain.

Quinoa, the grain darling of the past few years, is higher in protein and heart-healthy fats than many other grains. It’s been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties as well.

Use it cooked for sweet and savory dishes, or add uncooked quiona to granola and energy bars. Also try subbing quinoa in place of pasta for a healthier mac and cheese option. Make sure the quinoa you use has been rinsed as its natural coating will give it a bitter flavor when cooked.

Check out our recipe for sweet breakfast quinoa porridge here.


  • – 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • – 3/4 cup rinsed, uncooked quinoa
  • – 1 cup water
  • – 1 cup coconut milk
  • – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • – 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • – 2–3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • – Pinch of salt
  • Optional toppings:
  • – Coconut flakes
  • – Toasted almonds
  • – Seasonal fruit
  • – Nut butter


– Place coconut oil and quinoa in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Toast quinoa for one minute.

– Add in water and 1/2 cup coconut milk (be careful of splashes). Bring to a boil, then cover with lid and reduce heat to low. Let cook for 15 minutes.

– Remove lid and add remaining ingredients. Stir until fully incorporated and desired consistency is reached. Split between two bowls and enjoy.