The grain family includes barley, bulgur, corn, millet, oats, rice, rye and wheat. Amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa belong to a different botanical family. But they all contain protein, B vitamins, minerals and fiber, as well as antioxidants. Though corn, oats, rice, rye and wheat are relatively easy to find and cook, other of these healthful ingredients may require a search and some guidance before cooking:
AMARANTH This tiny seed, often found in health food stores, can be used to make flour or pasta. Add the seeds to your bowl of cereal, rice or stir-fry.
BARLEY This versatile grain makes a great pilaf or risotto; use the cooked leftovers in a salad, stir-fry or tuna salad.
BUCKWHEAT The seeds of the plant are used to make buckwheat flour, the basis of blini. Buckwheat groats are the hulled and crushed kernels of the seed and are usually cooked in a manner similar to rice. When the groats are toasted, they are called kasha. Add buckwheat to soups, stew, meatloafs or hamburgers. Cook buckwheat groats for a hot breakfast cereal.
BULGUR (also BULGHUR) Made from whole-wheat berries that are steamed, partially de-branned, dried and crushed or cracked, bulgur wheat is available in coarse, medium and fine grinds. A staple of the Middle Eastern diet, it is seen in salads such as tabbouleh or stews. It can also be cooked like a rice pilaf.
MILLET Cracked millet can be cooked like couscous; another variation, pearl millet, can be cooked like rice or a hot breakfast cereal. Millet flour is used in roti, an Indian flatbread.
QUINOA Pronounced "KEEN-wah," this grainlike product is often found in health food stores. The grain, which must be simmered, has a delicious roasted flavor and can be added to vegetable dishes or rice. Quinoa flakes, a hot cereal similar to oatmeal, make a hearty breakfast.
-- Katherine Tallmadge