THE BLOG
09/05/2016 09:19 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Meatless Monday: Go with the Grain -- it's Whole Grains Month

Happy Labor Day and happy Whole Grains Month. From amaranth, the It whole grain of the moment, to old friends like brown rice and oats, they're all winners. Celebrate them, enjoy them all September long. Your body will thank you.

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A new Harvard study links increased whole grain consumption with reduced mortality risk. The secret's in the bran and the germ. That's where grains offer complex carbs for good energy and a host of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. They have fiber to balance blood sugar, lower cholesterol and make your tummy happy. Up to a quarter of whole grains' protein and nutrients and almost all of the fiber get buffed away in processing. You deserve the whole goodness of whole grains.

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The more grains you eat, the greater your health benefit. No wonder nutritionists and other experts love them.

You may love them for their flavor, and that makes the folks at Oldways Whole Grains Council happy. Back in 2003 when the Whole Grains Council launched, whole grains were hard to find or worse, hard to eat. The first wave of whole grain products were whole-hearted and earnest, but alas, tasted like pencil shavings.

In just over a decade, whole grain products have become more popular, more palatable and more accessible. Grab a cranberry oat scone with your morning joe. Upgrade your panini by swapping out white bread (how meh) for multigrain. Need an afternoon energy boost? Skip the latte and munch on a granola bar. Watching the game at your local bar? Have some whole grain pretzels with that beer. Or have some popcorn -- that's a whole grain, too. Whole grains are everywhere, in your favorite products and on the menu at your favorite restaurants. Look for them. You'll be well-rewarded.

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During Whole Grains Month, spot a whole grain product when you're out and about, snap a pic, post on Instagram with the hashtag #spotwholegrains and you could be a winner. Just like whole grains are.

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Kitchri

Another rice and beans recipe? You betcha. Rice and beans are, after all, the most important dish in the world. This one, kitchri, which means mixture, hails from India. It's beloved in Ayurvedic medicine for its soothing, nourishing properties. One taste and you'll agree.

And what a triple-header, it's got brown rice for Whole Grains Month, mung beans for the International Year of Pulses and with made with staple ingredients that pretty much cook by themselves, it's easy to make. Why should you struggle in the kitchen? It's Labor Day, after all.

Serve with a fresh green salad, pair with a spicy curry, or give kitchri the bowl treatment -- spoon 3/4 cup of kitchri into a bowl, top with any number of goodies, including:

  • curry-roasted vegetables and tofu
  • wilted greens with chili and garlic
  • chopped tomatoes
  • toasted cashews
  • mango chutney
  • lime pickle
  • coconut raita
Kitchri keeps covered and refrigerated for several days.

1 cup brown rice
1 cup mung beans soaked overnight and sprouted, if you like
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 sprig curry leaves (optional)
6 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cinnamon stick
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
chopped cilantro to serve

Rinse brown rice, pour into a bowl and cover with cold water. Let rice sit and soak for an hour. Rinse and drain well.

In a soup pot, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds, turmeric and curry leaves. Stir to coat spices with oil and continue cooking, three to five minutes, until the spices are fragrant and the curry leaves start to frizzle.

Pour in the drained brown rice and the mung beans. Stir to combine with the spices. Raise heat to high, add the vegetable broth or water and drop in the cinnamon stick. Bring everything to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium.

Let kitchri cook for about an hour, stirring now and again, until thick, creamy and risotto-like but not soupy.

Let kitchri rest for five to 10 minutes. Season generously with sea salt and pepper. Remove cinnamon stick and curry leaves. Top with a handful of chopped cilantro and enjoy.

Serves 6 to 8.


More at soulfulvegan.com.