This is the first installment of my Great Grains series. As the name suggests, I'll be highlighting common and unusual grains and sharing what I believe to be their strengths and weaknesses. Grains to be covered include quinoa, rice, barley, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, faro, and more. (I'd also love suggestions!) While many of my posts avoid wheat for my gluten free friends, today we'll be starting the series with perhaps the most common and these days somewhat controversial grain: whole wheat.
For every 100 calories, whole wheat has 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. It also is a good source of potassium, B vitamins, and iron. However, while nutritionally superior to white flour, it's not really a nutritional super-star. I finally found a good, thorough academic source on the amino acid profiles of various sources in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. This source reports that the quality of whole wheat protein isn't that great: it's lacking in the essential amino acids lysine and threonine. A non-academic source that gives very detailed nutritional information can be found here.
That said, many of us who aren't allergic still eat a fair amount of whole wheat and I think that's just fine! As long as you're remembering to eat grains besides whole wheat, you will be able to balance the amino acid void throughout the day and the other minerals more than make up for this deficiency. With wheat, I think it's important though to remember what my Dad always told me growing up, "Everything in moderation." (Please of course do not eat it if you have an allergy or Celiacs... it is very bad for you then.)
Today's recipe something I often enjoy for a weekday lunch, meaning that you can make it in a tupperware container in less than 5 minutes. Whole wheat cous-cous is my favorite type of pasta because you can make it in no time at all: just boil the water, add it to the pasta, and go! I like to combine it with artichokes, white beans, and a touch of corn (which is a good source of lysine). I then top it off with some olive oil, garlic, and nutritional yeast.
Cous-cous with Artichokes and Cannellini Beans
1/3c whole wheat cous-cous*
1/3c boiling water
1/2c white beans
2c artichoke hears
1/4c sweet corn
splash of olive oil
dashes of garlic, basil, and nutritional yeast
Before I'm done getting ready in the morning, I set our water boiler up to boil a cup of water. Once boiling, add cows-cous and water to a tupperware container. If time allows, you can go back to getting ready for 5 minutes. If not, just add in the other ingredients and go. As a time saver in the morning, the corn and artichokes can be added to your tupperware frozen, as they will thaw by lunch time when you will probably microwave it anyways. :)
*Note for my gluten free friends: This recipe is also good with quinoa, which takes a bit longer to prepare, but is well worth it! I'll profile quinoa next week, I already have my recipe ready :)