Whole Story

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Faster Than You Thought: Cooking Whole Grains and Legumes

Powerful. Versatile. Sexy.

No, I’m not thinking of my favorite Hollywood movie star. I’m thinking of whole grains and legumes, a.k.a. the superstars of a healthy menu.

Whole grains and legumes may have a humble reputation (and let’s not even talk about that whole “musical fruit” business), but they’re powerhouses when it comes to building plant-strong®, nutrient-dense meals.

I rediscovered their allure building Mighty Bowls of Goodness—fun, budget-friendly meals that begin with your favorite grains, veggies and beans or lentils. (For a week’s worth of inspiration, check out our Mighty Bowls and More Meal Plan.)If you’re not a fan yet, perhaps it’s because you’ve heard that legumes and whole grains are difficult to work with? Let’s dispel those rumors with some tips for easy preparation:

Legume Literacy

The legume family includes peas, beans and lentils, which are all great sources of plant-based protein.  If you’ve never cooked legumes from scratch before, read our bean guide—it’s loaded with expert tips on everything from quick-soaking to seasoning.When you don’t have time for even a quick soak, look to dried peas and lentils. They don’t require soaking, and they cook in aslittle as 45 minutes. Split peas can play a starring role in an Indian-inspired mighty bowl, while nutty lentils shine in Lentil Sloppy Joes or Warm Kale and Lentil Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes.

Of course, legumes don’t have to be cooked from scratch. For quick and budget-friendly beans, stock up on 365 Everyday Value® Organic Beans (No Salt Added) in aseptic cartons and cans.  These ready-to-eat classics won’t disappoint in recipes like Winter Four Bean Salad or my family’s favorite, Black Bean Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing.

Get Down with Whole Grains

Whole grains are filling and nutritious, but they have a reputation for making you wait. Here’s the key to handling these kitchen divas: know the cooking times. Our whole grain guide breaks it down into quick-cooking grains (under 10 minutes), medium-cooking grains (10–40 minutes) and long-cooking grains (over 40 minutes). Count on quick-cooking grains for fast-and-easy dishes such as Lemon-Coriander Quinoa.

Save long-cooking grains for leisurely meals—or else make them in big batches and store in the fridge or freezer so they’re ready when you are.When you’re really in a rush, stop by the freezer section for 365 Everyday Value® Organic Brown Rice or Engine 2 Plant-Strong® Grain Medleys. With their help, you can make a mighty bowl or a satisfying stir-fry in minutes.

Finally, remember that whole grains aren’t just for lunch and dinner! Add almondmilk and fresh or dried fruit for a satisfying breakfast bowl.  Or craft a sassy snack with our recipe for healthy Whole Grain and Pumpkin Seed Granola.

Do you have a helpful hint for enjoying whole grains or legumes? Share the love in the comments!