Quinoa & Chili-Scented Pork Chops with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

Eating more whole grains was one of the easiest healthy transitions I have ever made.  It’s simple really, I feel better when I eat them. Not mentally, I don’t smugly feel as though I’m a better person for eating whole grains.  It’s literally feeling better, like my body works better and definitely prefers this fuel.

It upsets me when I am in a market and grab bread or pasta that is marketed as “Multigrain,” “7 Grain,” “Wheat,” or some other term that falsely advertises the item as whole grain.  The truth that it really contains refined or enriched flour is revealed in just a glance at the first ingredient on the nutritional label.  Why deprive me of my whole grains, food makers??  They make me feel goooooooood.

Black Rice, Orange, and Avocado Salad

Since they are not always easy to find at restaurants, I cook a lot of meals with whole grains at home.  Whole wheat bread and brown pasta were just the tip of the iceberg.  Quinoa, farro, barley, and bulgar, oh my!  Grits, oats, brown rice, and rye!  There are so many tasty things to make,  to simmer, toss, and even bake.  There are even whole grains that I haven’t got to yet: watch out amaranth, it won’t be long ’til we’ve met!

Lorna Sass (what a name!  It seems like some sort of 70s television character, the type to help the Duke boys out on a adventure or to give Burt Reynolds a run for his money) has written over a dozen cookbooks.  She’s covered topics from pressure cookers and veganism to historical Christmas feasts.  (A well-rounded sort, she probably really could give Burt Reynolds a run for his money.)  Her book Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way has been good to me and my stomach.

In Whole Grains Every Day, Sass firsts teaches you how to cook all of these grains with which you may or may not have experience.  For me, it was especially helpful when making farro for the first time.  Instead of just providing dry directions, she explains what sort of things to look for – such as a color or texture change to know that your grain has cooked correctly. Like the recently reviewed Glorious Grits, there is also a true range of recipes in this book, from basic oatmeal to the more complex barley and turkey chili with jalapeño sour cream and amaranth crunch.   Oh yes, I am coming for you, amaranth!

Barley-Soyrizo Skillet Pie, Farro with Fresh Tomato Sauce & Basil, Chilled Cucumber-Yogurt Soup with Bulgar Timbales

I’ve made such wonderful things from this book: chili-scented pork chops with quinoa tossed in roasted red pepper dressing; black rice, orange, and avocado salad with ground chipotle and pepitas; barley-soyrizo (or chorizo) skillet pie; farro with fresh tomato sauce and basil; chilled cucumber-yogurt soup with bulgar timbales; and more.  In her recipes, Sass gives you a lot of options.  She recommends grain exchanges for most of the recipes so that if you can’t find one item you can still make the recipe with another.  She injects little touches, like tossing in red quinoa with the standard beige, that make the final dishes striking and interesting.  She uses a wide range of flavors and cooking styles.  There has to be something in this book to please just about everyone, except perhaps the most curmudgeonly only-wonder-bread-eating blockhead.  That’s right, I pulled out the Charlie Brown vocabulary to describe that sort.

Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way by Lorna Sass.

Verdict: Check it out.

A brilliant collection of a large variety of recipes that will get more whole grains into your belly and make your body happy.