A Potpourri of Whole Grains

A variety of whole grains in different size bowls
Photo: Thinkstock/zi3000

Whole grains, like vegetables, present unique nutrient profiles. Why eat a variety? Just as spinach offers different nutrients than cauliflower, oats afford different nutrients than popcorn. Variety is good!

Any grain, when cooked, is the starting point for stir fry and grain bowls. Grains serve as the chewy component of soups. When roasted, they provide the cereal block in muesli. Cooked whole grains offer unique tastes and textures to hot dishes and cold salads. 

You’ve probably noticed the variety of grains ground into flours and pastas on the grocery shelves. Cooking directions vary. Make sure the first ingredient is “whole.” When purchasing rice varieties, look for brown or colored rice.

Because gluten forms the structure in shaped breads, gluten-free flours work best in batter breads, muffins, cookies and pancakes.

Ezekiel Flour

Makes 4 cups


  • 114 cups wheat berries
  • 34 cup spelt berries
  • 14 cup whole barley
  • 2 tablespoon millet
  • 2 tablespoon dry lentils
  • 3 tablespoon assorted dry beans


  1. Combine grains and beans in a flour mill and thoroughly grind into flour.

No access to a flour mill? Some recipes say grains can be ground in a high speed blender. Millet and lentils ground fine in a spice or seed grinder. Here is a recipe for mixing purchased flours to produce the same results:

Ezekiel Flour

Makes 2 1/4 cups

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 12 cup + 2 tablespoons spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons barley flour
  • 2 tablespoons bean flour
  • 2 tablespoons millet, ground in a spice mill or seed grinder
  • 2 tablespoons lentils, ground in a spice mill or seed grinder

This flour mix is good in batter breads, muffin and cookie recipes. The flour has less gluten than all wheat flours and does not hold its shape well without the pan. Use the paddle blade of the mixer and do not knead as long an all wheat dough.

Ezekiel bread is based on a passage in the Bible, where the prophet Ezekiel was instructed to make bread from wheat, barley, beans, lentils and spelt. It was the fasting bread eaten for a year while on exile in the desert.

Whole grains are heart healthy and lower the LDL bad cholesterol. They help us feel fuller longer and control blood sugar. They are a valuable source of fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, Vitamin E, magnesium and iron.

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Cindy Gay
Cindy Gay, RD, LD, serves as historian for the West Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, teaches in the lifelong learning program and conducts farmers market demonstrations. She blogs at Cindy's Health Meals and is enjoying planning meals for two instead of meals for 1,000. Connect with her on Twitter and Pinterest.