When you’re trying to eat healthy, it’s easy to grow tired of the seemingly limited selection of health foods out there. Sometimes, we get in a food rut at the grocery store, and we buy and prepare the same meals over and over without ever branching out. It’s no wonder we start to lose interest in food as we age!

800px -Quinoa _y

If you’re sick of the same old stuff, it may be time to mix up your diet with some new grains like spelt, Khorasan, millet, quinoa, couscous or kasha. Don’t worry; I had never heard of half of these grains either, and I had no clue as to where to buy them or how to prepare them. I’m glad I took the time to learn, because I discovered that these grains are super nutritious and delicious, too! They are easy to cook and can be used in a variety of ways – as a pilaf tossed with vegetables, in place of rice or noodles in soup, tossed with veggies in a salad, used as a base for curries and stir-fries or as a stuffing for vegetables and roasts.

New Grains to Try

Spelt Berries

A mild, very digestible grain, spelt berries are often a favorite among people on wheat-free diets. Use spelt interchangeably with quinoa or rice. Soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain, and then add water bringing to a boil. Simmer 50-60 minutes. Use 1 cup of spelt berries to 4 cups of water.


An ancient Egyptian wheat cultivated since 4000 BC, Khorasan has a rich, buttery flavor and a chewy texture. It is best to soak Khorasan overnight in cold water. Drain and simmer 45-60 minutes. Use 1 cup of Khorasan to 3 cups of water.


Pronounced (KEEN-wah), this ancient grain is packed with nutrition and has a light, nutty flavor that works well in soups, salads and pilafs. Rinse well before cooking and simmer 15-20 minutes. Use 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water. If not purchasing in bulk, follow the instructions on the package.


A mild, very digestible grain, millet is also often used by people on wheat-free diets. Use interchangeably with quinoa or rice. Simmer 25-35 minutes, remove from heat, fluff and let sit uncovered for 20 minutes. Use 1 cup of millet to 2 ½ cups of water.


Made from coarsely ground, precooked semolina, couscous is technically pasta but it’s typically used like a grain. It cooks up in minutes, making it a life-saver for weeknight cooking. Delicious tossed with fresh herbs, lemon and toasted pine nuts. Place couscous in a bowl. Pour in lightly salted boiling water, cover and let sit until water is absorbed and couscous is tender about 5-10 minutes, and then fluff.


Amaranth becomes sticky when cooked. Mix it with corn, scallions and cooked pinto beans for a south-of-the border side dish. Simmer 25-30 minutes. Do no salt until thoroughly cooked. Use 1 cup of amaranth to 3 cups of water.

Check your local health food store in the bulk section or ask your grocer if they carry some of these grains. Surprise your loved ones with something other than potatoes and rice. You might just be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Information taken from:  www.wholefoodsmarket.com

Carrie Robertson
Research & Community Education
Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living

Want to learn more?

Get in touch today!