Spotlight Recipes: Healthy & Delicious Grain Salads

’m not just talking about brown rice. Many lesser-known grains have been around for centuries and are finding their way back into our kitchens. Quinoa, bulgur and barley are just a few I keep on hand. Here are some recipes featuring these nutritious, versatile and inexpensive grains.

I’m not just talking about brown rice. Many lesser-known grains have been around for centuries (even millennia!) and are finding their way back into our kitchens. Quinoa, bulgur and barley are just a few I keep on hand. Here are some recipes featuring these nutritious, versatile and inexpensive grains.

The Goodness of Grains

Grains are packed with B-vitamins, minerals and, of course, carbohydrates, which provide your brain the energy it needs. When you opt for whole grains, you bring fiber and antioxidants like vitamin E into your dishes. The USDA recommends that at least 50% of your grains should be whole.

On average, cooked grains provide around 100 calories for every half cup. Cooking times vary from grain to grain, but all you need is some liquid to cook them up -- no oil or other fats needed. This keeps them low in fat and cholesterol-free.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is minimally processed (unlike white rice) and contains a good amount of fiber. I prefer brown basmati for my salads, but you can also find short-, medium- and long-grain brown rice at the market.

Cook Time: 40-50 minutes for regular brown rice; 5-10 minutes for quick cooking or instant

Barley

Types of barley include pearl, black and “quick cooking.” I keep pearl barley in my pantry, but it’s actually processed by having the bran removed (meaning less fiber). Nonetheless, it still counts towards your daily whole grains since it contains a good amount of fiber (3 grams per 1/2 cup).

Cook Time: 40-50 minutes for regular; 10-12 minutes for quick cooking
Quinoa

Once favored by the Incas, this ancient grain is also highest in protein. Quinoa naturally contains saponin, bitter covering that you can remove by rinsing or toasting the grain before cooking and serving.

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Bulgur

You can find this Mediterranean favorite in fine, medium or course textures -- all of which have a tender, chewy bite. Bulgur is sometimes confused with cracked-wheat, but they’re not the same. Bulgur is a bit lower in calories than the average grain, with only 76 calories per a half-cup serving.

Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Salad Eaters Beware!

As I said, a half-cup of grains has about 100 calories so you want to keep side-portions reasonable: 1/2 to 3/4 cup per person. If you add higher-fat ingredients like nuts and cheese, stick with a half-cup portion. If you’re making a grain salad as a meal, up that to a full cup.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Spotlight Recipe: Katie's Mediterranean Grain Salad

Here is a basic Mediterranean Grain Salad. It's versatile dish -- make it with couscous, wheat berries or quinoa. Or try it with a medley and reap all their whole-grain benefits.

Spotlight Recipes: Healthy Casseroles

Casseroles are an easy and tasty way to feed a crowd, but they're often very fattening. Check out our favorite healthy casserole recipes, including breakfast and dessert!

Spotlight Recipes: 25 Healthy Breakfasts

Start this new year and every new day on the right note by committing to a simple, healthy breakfast. Our 25 top choices runs the range of decadent pancakes to quick-and-easy picks. If you're one of those people who is never hungry in the morning, we got small bites for you, too.

Spotlight Recipe: Waldorf Salad

This creamy sweet salad always screams summer to me, but with apples at the their ripest, now is a great time to enjoy a Waldorf Salad, which is made lighter with low-fat mayonnaise and yogurt.

Spotlight Recipes: Picnic Salads

Picnic season has arrived. Fire up the grill, toss on the hamburgers and steaks and don’t forget about those scrumptious side salads. Instead of gobs of fat and oodles of calories, here are delicious (and healthy) versions of the classics.

Spotlight Recipes: 25 Heart-Healthy Choices

Love your heart and your tastebuds at the same time! In honor of American Heart Month this February, we're sharing our top 25 delicious recipes for heart health. To meet our heart-healthy guidelines, entrees contain no more than 400 calories with 15 grams of fat (6 grams saturated). Side dishes are limited to 250 calories and 10 grams of fat (5 grams saturated).

Spotlight Recipes: Healthy,Tasty Muffins

Read about healthy muffin recipes and how to make muffins more nutritious at the same time.

Spotlight Recipe: Balsamic Melon Salad

Add a little spice to fruit with this scrumptious salad. Balsamic vinegar adds flavor without racking up calories and keeps this recipe at under 140 per serving. Serve with a sandwich, an omelet or even as dessert.

Spotlight Recipe: Black Bean Salad

This deliciously simple dish is the perfect picnic side. Amazingly, there’s no oil or other fat added to it -- meaning it's fat-free. Instead, you get tons of fiber from the beans, corn and other veggies. A touch of pineapple adds a sweetness to combo, too.

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.