What is Wheat Grain?
Wheat Grain (also known as wheat berries) are whole, unprocessed wheat kernels that contain all three parts of the grain, including the germ, bran and starchy endosperm. Only the hull, the inedible outer layer of the grain, has been removed. This means that wheat berries retain all of the grain's vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
Wheat berries, like most whole grains, have a long list of health benefits. Studies continue to show that consuming whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Research has also shown that substituting whole grains for their refined counterparts can help with weight control. They're high in fibre, low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals. They are a particularly good source of manganese, selenium, phosphorus and magnesium. Wheat berries also contain lignans, which are phytochemicals thought to guard against breast and prostate cancers.
Wheat berries contain gluten, so they're not suitable for people with coeliac disease.
How to cook Wheat Grain?
To cook wheat berries, simply bring 2 ½ parts water to one part raw wheat berries, to boil. Rinse the berries under running water in a colander until the water runs clear, and add to the boiling water. Bring back to the boil, then cover and simmer for between 45 minutes and an hour, until the berries are tender. Remove from the heat, drain any excess water, and fluff gently with a fork.
Wheat berries can also be added to soups and stews during cooking. Allow at least 45 minutes of cooking time and add extra water since wheat berries absorb water and double in size once they're cooked!
Remember that you can slightly alter the cooking times depending on what you’re planning on using the wheat berries for. In a salad, a slightly more al dente grain may go down better, whereas if making a porridge, you’ll need to cook them for slightly longer to ensure they become nice and soft.
Wheat berries work equally well in both sweet and savoury dishes. If cooking something savoury, why not try boiling them in stock rather than water, for some added flavour.
Or try sprouting them and adding to smoothies and salads.
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