7 Recipes to Help You Get Your Whole-Grain Fix

Full of fiber and oh-so-versatile, whole grains are an easy, inexpensive base for so many healthy meals. Get inspired with these ideas.

three whole grain recipe photos
Whole grains are so versatile, they work equally well in salads and burgers.Adobe Stock; iStock
You’ve probably heard the advice to “make half your grains whole grains,” but how exactly do you do that, and why? Unlike refined grains — such as all-purpose flour and white rice — which are stripped of some of their naturally nutritious components, whole grains are composed of the entire kernel, including the fiber-rich bran, nutrient-dense germ, and complex-carb-filled endosperm, according to the Whole Grain Council.

Eating more whole grains is linked to a wealth of health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Whole grains are also linked to longevity: A study published in March 2024 in the European Journal of Nutrition found that those who consumed more whole grains lived longer.

While many people try to meet their whole grain quota with wheat pasta and whole-grain breads, there are plenty of other tasty options in the grain aisle alone. So-called ancient grains including amaranth, millet, freekeh, and spelt have been around for centuries, but are not common in Western diets. Most can be cooked and served in similar ways to rice, and are a nice change to serve with stir fry, in grain bowls, or sprinkled on salads. Some, like sorghum, can even be popped to add a crispy texture.

Half a cup of any of these cooked grains counts as one serving, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends adults get between 5 to 10 servings a day.

How to Prepare Whole Grains

The beauty of grains is that there are so many options to choose from, and they can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Beyond boiling, grains can be toasted, popped in a pan or used in savory dishes like burgers. They’re absorbent, so you can soak them in milk or the nondairy alternative of your choice to make a breakfast porridge — just top with berries, nuts, or whatever else you desire.

Easy to make, filling, and inexpensive, whole grains are great for meal prep. You can cook a batch and use portions in different dishes all week long. Most grains are shelf-stable for at least 6 months and last three to four days in the refrigerator once cooked, per the USDA.

In addition to fiber, whole grains often deliver plenty of protein too. Sorghum, for example, packs more than 20 g of protein per cup cooked, while teff contains nearly 10 g, per the USDA data estimates.

If you’re unsure about which new whole grains you might enjoy, here’s a breakdown of several.

  • Teff is one of the world’s smallest grains, measuring less than 1 millimeter in diameter, per Britannica.

    ?Teff is an ancient crop that has been used in Ethiopian cooking for thousands of years. Teff is commonly eaten as a creamy porridge, used in stews or batters, and its flour is used to make injera, a flatbread and staple in Ethiopia. One cup of cooked teff provides 255 calories, 2 g total fat, 50 g carbohydrates, 7.1 g dietary fiber and almost 10 g of protein, per USDA.

    ?Teff is also an excellent source of iron, magnesium, and manganese.
  • Buckwheat is an ancient grain, having existed for more than 8,000 years, and don't be confused by its name, because it is actually wheat-free and gluten-free, per Britannica.

    ?It’s considered a pseudocereal, which means it’s technically a seed, but like quinoa and amaranth it is commonly used as a grain. Buckwheat tastes nutty, with a chewy texture, and can be eaten as cereal or used in place of rice in a pilaf dish; its flour is used to make soba noodles. One cup of cooked buckwheat groats contains 190 calories, 6 g fat, 32 g carbs, 4.4 g dietary fiber and 5 g protein, per the USDA.

  • Sorghum originated in Northern Africa, it has a nutty, chewy, and earthy taste, and is gluten-free. One serving?(? cup) of uncooked sorghum contains 180 calories, 1 g fat, 39 g carbs, 8 g dietary fiber, and 5 g protein.

    ?Sorghum can be popped like popcorn or added to soups, or used in pilafs or salads.
  • Farro is one of the oldest grains and is said to have been consumed in ancient Roman times. Farro is made from wheat (so it's not-gluten-free) and has a chewy texture and nutty taste. It's delicious on its own, added to soups, or made into a grain salad. One serving (? cup) uncooked farro contains 160 calories, 0.5 g fat, 33 g carbs, 3 g dietary fiber, and 6 g protein, per USDA data.

  • Kamut is also a type of wheat, has a sweet, nutty, and buttery flavor, and is packed with protein. One cup cooked contains 227 calories, 1 g fat, 48 g carbs, 7.4 g dietary fiber, and 10 g protein.

Swapping refined grains for whole grains is a powerful and easy change that can boost your nutrition and delight your taste buds. Check out our seven delicious whole-grain recipes below and get cooking!

1
faro bowl
iStock

Toasted Farro with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Farro, an Italian ancient grain with a chewy texture, boasts a nutty flavor that intensifies when toasted. In this recipe, toasted farro is infused with flavors of acidic balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, sweet cooked tomatoes, and salty feta cheese, creating a hearty dish. For a complete meal, add a protein like a filet of salmon, steak or tofu.

contains? Wheat, Tree Nuts
4.0 out of 2 reviews

SERVES

4

CALORIES PER SERVING

391

PREP TIME

10 min

COOK TIME

10 min

TOTAL TIME

20 min

Ingredients

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups cooked farro
2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
? cup low-fat goat cheese, crumbled
? cup fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts or walnuts, chopped

Directions

1

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil and cooked farro. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until farro is lightly toasted and fragrant. Transfer to a large serving bowl.

2

In the same skillet, add 1 tbsp olive oil and cherry tomatoes, cook for about 4-5 minutes until tomatoes have softened. Stir into toasted farro.

3

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 2 tbsp olive oil with balsamic vinegar and pour over farro-tomato salad and toss until well mixed.

4

Garnish with goat cheese, basil and nuts. Serve warm or chilled.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

Serving size1 cup

calories

391

total fat

19g

saturated fat

3.7g

protein

12g

carbohydrates

43g

fiber

6g

sugar

3.3g

added sugar

0g

sodium

103mg
2
veggie burger
Adobe Stock

Kamut Bean Burger

Kamut is an ancient grain originating in Egypt, which is made from wheat and has a rich, buttery flavor, and chewy texture. Kamut is packed with over 9 grams of protein and 7 g of filling fiber per cooked cup. These burgers are hearty, filling, and can be eaten on their own, on a bed of lettuce or nestled in a whole-grain bun. Drizzle them with a bit of hot sauce or a dollop of tzatziki.

contains? Wheat, Eggs, Dairy, Tree Nuts
5.0 out of 2 reviews

SERVES

6

CALORIES PER SERVING

204

PREP TIME

10 min

COOK TIME

50 min

TOTAL TIME

1 hr

Ingredients

1 cup dry kamut
1- 15 oz can of low-sodium black beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
? cup red pesto sauce, such as Whole Foods Market Plant-based tomato pesto
1 large egg
1 tbsp olive oil

Directions

1

Cook kamut according to package directions. Allow to cool.

2

Place cooked kamut, beans, pesto in a food processor and process for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down sides as needed, until mixture is well mixed, but does not need to be fully pureed. ?Stir in egg.

3

Scoop out ? cup mixture and form in a patty. Repeat with remaining mixture (should make 6 burger patties total).

4

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and burgers, working in batches if needed. Cook on one side for 6-7 minutes until burgers look golden brown, then flip and cook the other side for another 4- 5 minutes.

5

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

Serving size1 burger

calories

204

total fat

5g

saturated fat

1g

protein

8g

carbohydrates

21g

fiber

9.2g

sugar

1.3g

added sugar

0g

sodium

89mg

TAGS:

Wheat, Eggs, Dairy, Tree Nuts, Mediterranean, Heart-Healthy
3
stuffed zucchini
Svetlana Monyakova/iStock

Grilled Zucchini Stuffed with Herby Quinoa

Although quinoa is technically a seed, it is grouped in with whole grains and, like them, provides plenty of fiber and protein. It’s mild in flavor so makes a great base for other ingredients. Here, quinoa is dressed up with veggies and an easy lemon-olive oil dressing that can be prepared in advance. Zucchini develops a soft, creamy interior when grilled and acts as a delicious low-carb serving vehicle in this dish.

contains? Wheat

SERVES

8

CALORIES PER SERVING

162

Ingredients

2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled
2 Roma tomatoes, finely diced
2 Persian cucumbers, finely diced
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 lemon, juiced
? cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
? tsp kosher salt, divided
4 large zucchinis, peel on, sliced lengthwise

Directions

1

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add quinoa, tomatoes, cucumbers, 2 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and ? tsp salt. Toss until well mixed and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

2

Lightly grease a grill’s grates and preheat to medium-high.

3

Brush zucchini halves with remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with ? tsp salt. Place zucchini cut-side down on the grill and cook for 4 minutes until charred. Flip and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer zucchini to a serving plate and divide chilled quinoa mixture amongst zucchini halves.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

Serving size 1 zucchini half with ? cup couscous-veggie mix

calories

162

total fat

6g

saturated fat

0.9g

protein

5g

carbohydrates

0g

fiber

4g

sugar

5.2g

added sugar

0g

sodium

57mg

TAGS:

Wheat, Heart-Healthy, Mediterranean
4
Cold quinoa salad
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Cold Mexican Quinoa Salad

Most people think of?quinoa?as a side dish, but because of its high?protein?content — more than 8 grams (g) per cooked cup,?according to the USDA?—?it makes an excellent base for a meat-free entrée, especially when paired with protein- and fiber-packed?black beans. The dressing comes together in just a few minutes, but if you’re really crunched for time, simply mixing some?olive oil?and vinegar will work, too.

4.9 out of 11 reviews

SERVES

4

CALORIES PER SERVING

360

PREP TIME

15 min

TOTAL TIME

15 min

Ingredients

1? cups quinoa, cooked according to package directions
2 15-oz cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups corn, fresh or frozen and defrosted
? medium red onion, diced
1 avocado, chopped
? cup olive oil
3 limes, juiced
? cup apple cider vinegar
1? tsp cumin
1? tsp chili powder
1? tsp garlic powder
? tsp kosher salt
? tsp pepper
? cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Directions

1

In a bowl, combine quinoa, black beans, corn, onion, and avocado.

2

In a jar with a lid, add remaining ingredients, cover, and shake well to combine. Pour over quinoa salad and toss lightly to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

Serving size1? cups

calories

360

total fat

14g

saturated fat

2g

protein

12g

carbohydrates

49g

fiber

12g

sugar

3g

added sugar

0g

sodium

210mg

TAGS:

Diabetes-Friendly, Heart-Healthy, Gluten-free, High-Fiber, Lunch, Mediterranean, Quick & Easy, Vegan, Vegetarian
5
Broth based miso soup with soba noodle and bok choy
Shutterstock

Miso Soup With Soba Noodles, Carrots, and Bok Choy

Soup is considered a comfort food, but did you know miso soup may offer gut health benefits as well? Miso contains living probiotic organisms that may help contribute to the diversity of your microbiome. For this reason, the miso is added after the soup is removed from the heat so that the heat doesn't unintentionally kill any of these beneficial microbes. Add ginger and garlic for a kick of flavor that also contributes to anti-inflammatory effects.

contains? Wheat, Soy
4.7 out of 11 reviews

SERVES

4

CALORIES PER SERVING

232

PREP TIME

10 min

COOK TIME

15 min

TOTAL TIME

25 min

Ingredients

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 cup baby portobello mushrooms, sliced (optional)
2 carrots, sliced into thin ribbons
2 heads baby bok choy, ends removed and chopped or sliced in half lengthwise
4 oz soba noodles, dry
? (14-oz) block firm tofu, chopped into cubes
2 ? tbsp white miso paste
3 scallions, sliced

Directions

1

Place a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the broth and bring to a rolling boil.

2

Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

3

Stir in the mushrooms (if using), carrot ribbons, bok choy, and noodles and cook until the noodles are tender and the bok choy is bright green in color, about 5 minutes.

4

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the tofu, allowing the mixture to sit until the tofu has warmed through, about 2 minutes.

5

Meanwhile, remove ? cup of the broth from the pot and place it in a small bowl. Add the miso to the bowl of broth and whisk until all of the miso is dissolved. Return the mixture to the bigger pot and stir to combine.

6

Divide evenly between 4 serving bowls and garnish each with a small amount of scallions.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

calories

232

total fat

4g

saturated fat

0.6g

protein

15g

carbohydrates

38g

fiber

3.2g

sugar

7.6g

added sugar

1.5g

sodium

718mg

TAGS:

Wheat, Soy, Lunch, Quick & Easy, Vegan, Vegetarian
6
Bulger dried Fruit nuts Porridge
Elena Danileiko/iStock

Barley Breakfast Porridge

Although barley is commonly used in stews, it can also be prepared in a similar way as oatmeal. Barley has a thick, chewy texture and can take on either savory or sweet flavors. This bowl is a delicious way to incorporate more fiber into your day. One cup of cooked barley packs 6 grams, and adding berries, cashews and raisins on top will boost the fiber content even further. To make a creamier bowl of barley, cook the barley in milk instead of water.

contains? Tree Nuts
4.3 out of 20 reviews

SERVES

2

CALORIES PER SERVING

348

PREP TIME

5 min

COOK TIME

25 min

TOTAL TIME

30 min

Ingredients

? cup dry pearled barley
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries
? cup dry roasted unsalted cashews
? cup raisins golden or regular (optional)
Ground cinnamon (optional)

Directions

1

Cook pearled barley according to package directions.

2

Divide cooked barley between two serving bowls.

3

Top with blueberries, raspberries, cashews, raisins and cinnamon, if using.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

Serving size1 1/4 cup

calories

348

total fat

9g

saturated fat

1.7g

protein

9g

carbohydrates

63g

fiber

14g

sugar

11.4g

added sugar

0g

sodium

9mg

TAGS:

Tree Nuts, Anti-Inflammatory, Breakfast, High-Fiber, Heart-Healthy, Cholesterol-Conscious, Low-Sodium, Mediterranean, Vegan, Vegetarian
7
Quick Fried Brown Rice
Getty Images

Quick Fried Brown Rice

When you're faced with a choice of takeout rice, choose brown. White rice is refined — all of the fiber has been stripped away. Brown rice has 3 grams (g) of fiber per cup, plus selenium, phosphorus, and several B vitamins, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). To make fried rice, use day-old rice because it's not too wet when you add it to your wok or frying pan. Mix it with veggies or leftover ingredients you have on hand.

contains? Soy, Wheat
5.0 out of 1 reviews

SERVES

4

CALORIES PER SERVING

277

PREP TIME

5 min

COOK TIME

11 min

TOTAL TIME

16 min

Ingredients

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, diced
2 cups fresh green beans, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cups cooked brown rice
1? tbsp less-sodium soy sauce

Directions

1

Place a large wok or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and stir to evenly coat pan. Add carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes.

2

Add green beans and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until all vegetables are tender and bright in color, about 4–5 minutes more.

3

Add rice and soy sauce and stir, breaking up the rice as you cook, until rice is heated through, about 3 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

calories

277

total fat

8g

saturated fat

1.3g

protein

6g

carbohydrates

46g

fiber

5.1g

sugar

4.7g

added sugar

0.1g

sodium

537mg

TAGS:

Soy, Wheat, Diabetes-Friendly, Anti-Inflammatory, Heart-Healthy, Mediterranean, Vegan, Vegetarian, Quick & Easy, Side Dish
Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

Everyday Health follows strict sourcing guidelines to ensure the accuracy of its content, outlined in our editorial policy. We use only trustworthy sources, including peer-reviewed studies, board-certified medical experts, patients with lived experience, and information from top institutions.

Sources

  1. Whole Grains A to Z. Oldways Whole Grains Council.
  2. Eriksen AK et al. Whole-Grain Intake in Mid-Life and Healthy Aging in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Cohort. European Journal of Nutrition. March 7, 2024.
  3. Grains. United States Department of Agriculture.
  4. Storing Whole Grains. Oldways Whole Grains Council.
  5. How Long Will Cooked Food Stay Safe in the Refrigerator? United States Department of Agriculture. February 29, 2024.
  6. Sorghum Grain. United States Department of Agriculture. April 1, 2019.
  7. Teff, Cooked. United States Department of Agriculture. April 1, 2019.
  8. Teff Grain. Britannica. Petruzzella M.
  9. Buckwheat. Britannica. April 1, 2024.
  10. Buckwheat Groats. United States Department of Agriculture. October 28, 2022.
  11. Whole Grain Sorghum. United States Department of Agriculture. October 28, 2021.
  12. Farro. United States Department of Agriculture. August 31, 2023.
  13. Wheat, Kamut Khorasan, Cooked. United States Department of Agriculture. April 1, 2019.
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