Hi! I’m the new Program Manager for the Whole Grains Council, Vik Bensen. Here in the Northeast the snow this week is reminding us that winter is not quite over yet, with a month left until Spring! These colder days have been the perfect time to enjoy warm recipes featuring whole grains. If the winter blues have you down, increased whole grain consumption is associated with better mood and lower anxiety, making this a great time of year to add more grains into your mealtimes. 

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults consume at least half of their daily grains as whole grains. With our 2023 Consumer Insights Survey showing that 77% of Americans think they should increase their whole grain intake, we suggest soups, stews, and bowls as flavorful and nutritious ways to eat more whole grains throughout your day—alongside staving off the cold! Today, we’re highlighting some of our favorite warming recipes featuring Barley, Polenta, and Brown Rice to get you through the last cold days of winter and the first chilly days of spring.


Barley is our February grain of the month! One of the oldest cultivated grains, barley was first domesticated thousands of years ago in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and spread to ancient Europe and China as a staple crop. We still eat this powerhouse grain today as a delicious source of fiber, magnesium, protein, and iron in cuisines all over the globe. It’s an easy-to-use carbohydrate paired with your favorite vegetables in a variety of soups and sauces. Our Shrimp, Tomato, and Garlic Sauce over Barley is a perfect example of an easy barley main dish, and our Bacon Sauteed Barley with Arugula is a simple side! Barley soup is a classic in the winter, and we recommend this recipe from our friends over at Bob’s Red Mill. 


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Polenta is typically made with boiled whole grain yellow corn grits, but other grains, such as amaranth or buckwheat have historically been used in polenta variations. For traditional corn polenta, you can try our Creamy Polenta recipe, which can be eaten with a variety of sauces and stews, such as our String Bean and Tomato Stew, Ghanaian Red Bean Stew, or our Puttanesca Sauce recipes. Plus, yellow corn polenta is a great natural source of protein, fiber, and potassium! For an alternative to corn polenta, try this delicious Amaranth Polenta with Wild Mushrooms recipe. Both are options for gluten-free whole grains! 

Brown Rice:

Brown rice, whether short- or long-grain, is a fabulous addition to any meal where you would use refined white rice, as in a stir-fry, a curry, or with a sauce. We know that brown rice with all of its healthy bran and germ has more than twice as much fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, and magnesium as refined white rice, as well many other essential nutrients. It also has an incredible flavor! Try brown rice in our Slow Cooker Moujaddara, in some Arroz Con Pollo, or in a Brown Rice Bowl with Chana Masala and Curried Cauliflower


Share your favorite cozy recipes in the comments below. To have our Oldways Whole Grains Council blog posts (and more whole grain bonus content!) delivered to your inbox, sign up for our monthly email newsletter, called Just Ask for Whole Grains. (Vik)

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