Whole Grain (and some seeds) Factsheet

  • Healthy and filling (protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, fiber).
  • Linked to many health benefits, especially when part of a Mediterranean lifestyle. This includes less brain shrinkage, ie healthier brains.
  • ½ cup of cooked whole grains equals one serving.
  • A grain is considered to be a whole grain as long as all three original parts are still present in the same proportions as when the grain was growing in the fields.
  • Bran: outer layer (fiber)
  • Germ: inner layer (B vitamins, protein, minerals)
  • Endosperm: middle layer (complex carbohydrates, proteins)
  • Sprouted grains: easier to digest, increased bio-availability of Vitamins B & C, folate, fiber, reduced gluten.
  • Whole wheat is a whole grain, but not all whole grains are whole wheat. Many are not wheat at all, and are thus gluten-free.


Gluten Free Grains


Grain Origin/Cuisine Flavor Cooking Method Uses
Amaranth* Central/South America Nutty/earthy/peppery



1 cup grain/1 ½ cup water

20-25 minutes

Porridge, “polenta”, or soup thickener
Buckwheat (Kasha: toasted) Russian

Part of the rhubarb family



Absorption:  1 cup grain/2 cups water

10-15 minutes

Hot cereal, soups, blintzes, pancakes
Millet* First domesticated cereal “grain”, popular in Asia and Africa Nutty/mild


Toast until grain pops/Absorption: 1 cup grain/2 cups water

10-15 minutes

Adds texture to breads/cakes,

subs for rice

Quinoa* South America Nutty/crunchy texture


Rinse first/Absorption:  1 cup/1 cup + 3 Tablespoons water

20 minutes

Sub for rice, salads
Sorghum Used in Africa & India Nutty/mild


Rinse first/Boil like pasta: 1 cup grain/3 cups water

50-60 minutes

Sub for couscous, cold salads


Wheat Based Grains


Grain Origin/Cuisine Flavor Cooking Method Uses
Barley Egypt, Eurasia, 10,000 years ago!! Nutty like brown rice


Boil like pasta: 1 cup grain/4 qts. water

20-25 minutes

Sub for rice Add to soups/salads
Bulgur Middle East, Mediterranean Rich/nutty


Rinse well and soak:  1 ½ cups grain/1 ¼ cup liquid

30-45 minutes

Salads, tabbouleh
Farro Tuscany Sweet/nutty/chewy


Rinse well and boil like pasta: 1 cup grain/4 cups water

20-25 minutes

Cold salads, warm vegetable dishes, soups, sub for rice
Freekah Middle East/North Africa Nutty/subtly smoky


Rinse well and boil like pasta: 1 cup grain/4 quarts

30-45 minutes

Cold salads, sub for rice,
Wheatberries Eastern Europe Subtly nutty/earthy Toast and then boil like pasta:  1 cups/4 quarts

1 hour

Cold salads, sub for rice, porridge


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