Jam Bars with Currant Preserves in the Middle

“Among Friends “Jam Bars with Currant Preserves in the Middle

Welcome to Whole Grain Sampling Day!

Thanks to the Whole Grains Council, I have a big box of tasty whole grain foods to sample, and if you enter, you might win the very same treasure trove!

Enter to win by posting in my comments: tell me why you love whole grains before April 9 and you might win! (US residents only)



I’m serving as a Whole Grain Ambassador, which means that I received these samples and have been asked to let you know what I think of them. (I didn’t receive any compensation, just freebies.) Of course, I am always looking for new whole grain foods to try, and getting a preview of some that are not even on my store shelves yet is pretty exciting to me.

Yep, I love my grains. In truth, I am already a whole grain ambassador, through my book, The New Whole Grains Cookbook, and many articles, cooking classes, and blog posts. Whole grains are my thing. I’m already a Culinary Advisor to the Whole Grains Council, and I share whatever cooking tips that I can when we get questions.

We love whole grains for their nutty, hearty flavors and their chewy textures. They fill us up and energize us, and keep us humming along with good carbs and fiber. So the health benefits are just icing on the cake.

  • stroke risk reduced 30-36%
  • type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
  • heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
  • better weight maintenance
  • reduced risk of asthma
  • healthier carotid arteries
  • reduction of inflammatory disease risk
  • lower risk of colorectal cancer
  • healthier blood pressure levels
  • less gum disease and tooth loss

So, all the experts have been letting us know that we should eat more whole grains. In recent years, this fact has really driven the development of tastier and better whole grain products. The companies that make packaged foods are responding to your desire for great grainy stuff to eat, and introducing new products all the time. Because of this, new and exciting products pop up on your store shelves almost every day.

So, in my case of goodies, listed below, I found some real sustenance. It’s hard to rank them, since there really were no clunkers in the group.



Among Friends – Jam Bar Baking Mixes *the bars in the photo above, a tasty little mix that comes together with a jar of jam and some butter and eggs or vegan alternatives.

Attune Foods – Buckwheat & Hemp Cereal * I loved this- thick, hearty flakes with a rich buckwheaty flavor, perfect level of sweetness

Barbara’s Bakery – Snackimals Cereal * Very tasty, a kids cereal but not toothachey sweet like most are. A bowl kept me full all morning.

Bob’s Red Mill – Gluten Free Honey Oat Granola * YES love, always, you know I love granola and this is a classic.

Carl Brandt – Mestemacher Rye Bread and Multigrain Bread* Wonderfully moist and chewy, the dense rye bread is a traditional style that is absolutely great with spreads or with soup.

Dr. Kracker – Engine 2 Crispbreads * They are not kidding when they say crips! Engine 2 is famed for making no-oil, plant based foods, and these are a crunchy, seedy cracker that is great with hummus or spreads.

Freekehlicious – Whole Grain Freekeh * Freekeh rocks, I love the toasty taste of this healthy whole grain.

Goose Valley Natural Products – Brown & Wild Rice Fusion * Flavored with dehydrated veggies, a nice, natural mix with Wild rice and basmati.

HomeFree Treats – Gluten Free Cookies * Delicious, easy to take along in the little sample packs.

Jovial Foods – Einkorn and Brown Rice Pastas * Jovial makes very nice whole grain pastas, these are hearty and hold their own with kale, garlic, and spice.

Late July – Multigrain Snack Chips * Loved these, crunchy, lots of flavors.

Lotus Foods – Rice Ramen * So excited about this product. Black Rice Ramen is beautiful and delicious, I hope to see it in my local stores soon.

Mary’s Gone – Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks *Nobody will know these are GF- crunchy, salty, just pretzels.

Mi-Del 100%Whole Wheat honey Grahams * Already a favorite at our house, I love using these to make easy treats, like parfaits, or crust for cheesecake or pie.

Mondelez – Classic Wheat Thins and Brown Rice Triscuits and belVita Breakfast Biscuits * I grew up loving Wheat Thins and Triscuits and these are no exception. The Breakfast Biscuits are very tasty, kind of a cross between a graham cracker and a cookie.

Pamela’s Products – Whole Grain Whenever Bars * Very tasty, I don’t think anyone would notice that they were gluten free.

Popsalot Gourmet Popcorn – Cinnamon Popcorn * We inhaled this, just as decadent as junk food, but not.

Real McCoy’s Snax – Rice Puffs * these didn’t make it through movie night, they had that cheesy poof flavor with just a hint of charming brown rice deliciousness.

Roman Meal – Whole Grain Bread (and a cute toaster USB drive) * This is the bread we used to eat when we lived in Illinois, before I started baking for us. Still fluffy and wheaty, great for toast and sandwiches.

Rhythm Superfoods – Super Food Chips * Loved these, kind of flaky and delicately crunchy, lots of veggie flavors.

Sesmark Gluten Free Rice Thins * a 100% brown rice version of the popular crisp rounds, these crackers make a GF snacker happy.

Skeeter Snacks – Nut Free Cookies *Good little cookies, safe for the nut allergic.

Upfront Foods – Straight Up Granola * True to the name, straight up is not super sweet, just nice and crunchy, oaty and delicious.

Way Eagle Mill – Corn Flour * I use corn flour in some of my GF recipes, and it is a joy to have a less refined version. Wonderful corn flavor!

All these products are whole grain enough for me to sink my teeth into, and also designed to be very palatable to the whole family. Thanks to the Whole Grains Council, I’m posting this whole grain info to help you to learn to cook the whole variety of whole grains.

Cooking & Eating Whole Grains

From the Whole Grains Council / Oldways • 266 Beacon St., Boston MA 02116 • www.wholegrainscouncil.org

You can add whole grains to your meals without cooking, simply by choosing breads, breakfast cereals,
and other prepared whole grain foods. If you’d like to enjoy delicious whole grains at home as a side
dish, however, here are some guidelines for cooking them from scratch.


Cooking most grains is very similar to cooking rice. You put the dry grain in a pan with water or broth,
bring it to a boil, then simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Pasta is generally cooked in a larger amount
of water; the excess is drained away after cooking. Don’t be intimidated!


Brown small bits of onion, mushroom and garlic in a little oil in a saucepan. Add grain and cook briefly,
coating the grains in oil. Then add broth in the amount specified below, and cook until liquid is


Grains can vary in cooking time depending on the age of the grain, the variety, and the pans you’re
using to cook. When you decide they’re tender and tasty, they’re done! If the grain is not as tender as
you like when “time is up,” simply add more water and continue cooking. Or, if everything seems fine
before the liquid is all absorbed, simply drain the excess.


If you want to cook grains more quickly, let them sit in the allotted amount of water for a few hours
before cooking. Just before dinner, add extra water if necessary, then cook. You’ll find that cooking time
is much shorter with a little pre-soaking.

Another shortcut is to cook whole grains in big batches. Grains keep 3-4 days in your fridge and take
just minutes to warm up with a little added water or broth. You can also use the leftovers for cold salads
(just toss with chopped veggies, dressing, and anything else that suits your fancy), or toss a few
handfuls in some canned soup. Cook once, then take it easy.

There are also many quick-cooking grain side-dishes on the market, even including 90-second brown
rice. These grains have been pre-cooked so you only need to cook them briefly or simply warm them
through in the microwave.


If whole grains are sticking to the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat, add a very small amount of liquid,
stick a lid on the pan, and let it sit a few minutes. The grain will loosen, easing serving and cleanup.


To 1 cup Add this much Bring to a boil, Amount after
of this grain… water or broth: then simmer for: cooking
Amaranth 2 cups 20-25 minutes 3 1/2 cups

Barley, hulled 3 cups 45-60 minutes 3 1/2 cups

Buckwheat 2 cups 20 minutes 4 cups

Bulgur 2 cups 10- 12 minutes 3 cups

Cornmeal (polenta) 4 cups 25-30 minutes 2 1/2 cups

Couscous, whole wheat 2 cups 10 min. (heat off) 3 cups

Kamut® grain 4 cups Soak overnight, then 3 cups
cook 45-60 minutes
Millet, hulled 2 1/2 cups 25-35 minutes 4 cups

Oats, steel cut 4 cups 20 minutes 4 cups

Pasta, whole wheat 6 cups 8-12 minutes (varies Varies
by size
Quinoa 2 cups 12- 15 minutes 3+ cups

Rice, brown 2 1/2 cups 25-45 minutes 3-4 cups
(varies by variety)
Rye berries 4 cups Soak overnight, then 3 cups
cook 45-60 minutes
Sorghum 4 cups 25-40 minutes 3 cups

Spelt berries 4 cups Soak overnight, then 3 cups
cook 45-60 minutes
Wheat berries 4 cups Soak overnight, then 3 cups
cook 45-60 minutes
Wild rice 3 cups 45-55 minutes 3 1/2 cups

Whole grains are generally chewier than refined grains and have a nuttier, fuller flavor. You and your
family may find this unfamiliar at first. But after a month or two, refined grains may start to taste very
plain and uninteresting by contrast. Stick with it until your palate adjusts, and reap the health benefits.

Whole Grains Council / Oldways • 266 Beacon St., Boston MA 02116 • www.wholegrainscouncil.org