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The holiday season is a time for focusing on gratitude and celebration, so naturally diet can fall by the wayside. Whole grains are widely known to be extraordinarily good for you – decreasing risks of stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. With health beneﬁts like these, it’s easy to overlook how good whole grains taste. In a season where warm, rich, celebratory meals and holiday desserts are the order of the hour, whole grains can not only be incorporated, but can elevate your holiday cooking and baking to a whole other level. Because whole grains (whether intact grains or whole grain ﬂour) stand up to the bold ﬂavors used during the winter season, they can complement and contribute complexity to meals and baked goods alike – from stews and casseroles to holiday cookies and treats. Below are some of our favorite festive whole grain recipes, proving that whole grains elevate your holiday celebrations to something truly special.
Cooking with Whole Grains
Don’t let cooking with whole grains intimidate you! Many whole grains are quick-cooking, and the cooking times of grains that do take a bit longer can be cut down dramatically with a few tricks and tips, like soaking overnight or cooking with the ‘pasta method’. Check out our handy infographic to learn more!
Coconut Curry Teﬀ and Lentil Vegetable Stew
Teﬀ is a type of millet that has been grown for centuries in the horn of Africa. Teﬀ leads all the grains – by a wide margin – in its calcium content, with a cup of cooked teﬀ oﬀering about the same amount of calcium as a half-cup of cooked spinach or yogurt. This dish pairs teﬀ with red lentils, coconut milk and mustard greens for a rich satisfying stew ﬁt for a cold winter’s night!
French Lamb and Rye Berry Braise
The peppery ﬂavor of whole rye berries really compliments the lamb in this hearty braise. Feel free to substitute wheat berries if you like, but rye is worth seeking out. This recipe can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock and swapping the lamb for a vegetarian substitute such as seitan.
Greek Style Vegetarian Lasagna
Lasagna is a crowd-pleasing favorite, and we love the brightness the addition of olives and feta bring to this Greek style lasagna. Whole wheat pasta noodles not only withstand all that layering like a pro, but their earthy ﬂavor notes help balance out the brine and brightness of the olives, tomato, and feta
And who could deny themselves a striking splash of color, especially in winter! Brighten up your holiday table with the below appetizers, featuring colored rice and brown rice, respectively.
Nori Rolls with Ginger Tofu
Layered Rice and Pesto Bake
Baking with Whole Grains
Baking with whole grains can be diﬃcult for some people to imagine. Whole grains mean health and ‘healthy-tasting’ things, right? Not so fast! While there is nothing wrong with healthy-tasting things, some would be surprised that whole grains and whole grain ﬂours add wonderful complementary ﬂavors to baked goods. During the holiday season, spices like clove, cinnamon and nutmeg have been dug out of the pantry. Whole grain ﬂours help ﬁll out these bold ﬂavors, rounding out and elevating spiced bakes. The WGC’s Whole Grain Baking infographic is a super helpful resource if you’re new to baking with whole grains. Remember that whole grain ﬂours absorb more liquid than their reﬁned grain counterparts, so if you are substituting whole grain ﬂour for reﬁned grain, keep an eye on the moisture level. Depending on how much whole grain used, you may need a bit more liquid. Quick tip: Letting your dough rest on the countertop for a few minutes can help with absorption and malleability!
Try out these festive whole grain bakes below:
Buckwheat Pumpkin Muﬃns with Molasses Cinnamon Glaze
Molasses Sorghum Cookies
Pumpkin Date Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls
We at the WGC hope you and yours have a joyous holiday season. We would love to see the whole grain dishes you make this year — please share below or tag us on Instagram @wholegrains_council. Happy Cooking! (Abby)