We love our whole grains and add them to recipes whenever we can. But there are many types of recipes that actually work much better when you swap in some whole grains, and not just in our opinion. Here are a few summer dishes that, when made with whole grains, will rock your world…

Bulgur Black Bean Veggie Burger

1.  Veggie Burgers. Most veggie burgers are made with tofu and/or beans. And though we love the taste of those foods, those veggie burgers tend to be bland and lacking in a “crunch” factor. Try adding ½-1 cup of cooked whole grains, like brown rice or quinoa, to your veggie burgers to see how they change the texture and flavor of your burger for the better.  

2.  Picnic Pasta Salad. Pasta salad makes for a delicious entrée or side dish for any summertime picnic. But what tends to happen to that delectable dish is that the pasta soaks up all the dressing, and as a result becomes limp and soggy. The solution: use whole grain pasta! Whole grain pasta has a sturdier texture that will maintain its satisfying bite, even after it is dressed. 

3.  Fruit Crumbles. Most crumbles already use whole grains—oats! Though some recipes will call for a dough-y topping, like a cobbler or short cake, a traditional crumble uses oats, flour (use whole grain!), sugar, and butter. The combination of those ingredients creates a crunchy, crispy topping that is a nice contrast to the soft, warm fruit below. Next time you are looking for a summertime treat, go for the crumble!

4.  Smoothies. It may seem weird, but adding a small handful of leftover, cooked whole grains (like quinoa or millet) will not only help thicken your smoothie, but also add a subtle, earthy taste. Better yet, we like to go for the double whole grain maneuver with our smoothies: blend grains into the smoothie itself, and then top your beverage with a sprinkle of homemade granola. Once you try whole grains in (or on!) your smoothie, you will never go back.

5.  Chips and Dip. Who doesn’t love a good plate of chips and dip?! Just like with the pasta salad problem, regular chips lack the bold flavor and crunch of whole grain chips. Next time you are shopping for chips to serve at a party, go for whole grain pita or whole grain tortilla chips. The taste of whole grain chips is far superior to enriched grain varieties, and also tends to have an extra crunch, which is exactly what any good chip & dip combo needs.  (Gina Julian, Oldways intern)

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