The most common varieties of quinoa are the red, white and black. Packed with protein, minerals, vitamins and nine essential amino acids, the cooked grains are soft and boast a delicate flavour. Toss them into a salad with some lean protein and nutrient-rich veggies for a power-packed meal.
Wild rice is high in lysine, an amino acid rarely found in plants, protein-rich and gluten-free. It is chewy and has an earthy flavour when cooked. Black wild rice contains antioxidant-rich bran, the outer layer that is removed during milling to make white rice. Use wild rice in salads, stuffings and mixed rice dishes.
Not just good as a drink, cooked barley can also be used in salads, stews, soups and casseroles. It contains high amounts of beta glucan, a soluble fibre that is believed to help lower cholesterol, regulate blood glucose levels and protect against atherosclerosis, or the hardening and narrowing of the arteries, which is a major cause of heart attacks and strokes.
This seed-like grain is a good source of magnesium, which can help reduce your risk of getting cardiovascular diseases, migraines and asthma. It is also rich in phosphorous, the building block of our DNA. Millet can be used in patties, salads, stews and pilafs.
Buckwheat is actually a seed, not a grain. A rich source of protein, it helps lower blood pressure and regulate blood sugar levels. Easy to incorporate into meals, it cooks quickly and is great in stir-fries, salads, patties and casseroles.
Steel-cut oats are more nutritious than rolled oats due to the way they are processed. Sharp steel blades slice through whole oat groats, which helps retain more fibre and protein. Firm, dense and chewy, they take longer to cook and are most suited for slow-cooked dishes such as congee and porridge.
All the grains are available at Mustafa (145 Syed Alwi Road, Tel: 6295-5855) and at health food stores like Four Seasons Organic Market (#B2-06/07 Great World City, Tel: 6836-1855).
This article was originally published in Simply Her April 2015.