Saturday, March 17, 2012

Want Something New in Your Life? Try Wheat Berries!

Before one of the staff at Primary Care Partners brought in a wheat berry Waldorf salad to share at work, I had never tasted a wheat berry!

Like those Waldorf salads that appeared back in the 50’s, this one had plenty of diced apples and walnuts. But there was no mayo.

This was a combination of wheat berries (you have to cook them first), apples, walnuts, raisins and parsley, tossed with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, a little apple juice and apple cider vinegar, and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.

If you’re trying to stay away from foods containing sugar, fat and salt; the wheat berry can be your new best friend! Just ¼ cup contains five grams of fiber which helps cut those cravings and stabilize blood sugars. They are also an excellent source of magnesium and potassium, not to mention lots of B and E vitamins.

Just having that healthy, hearty salad in my fridge offered an underpinning for other meals. One salad can be used for a couple of days, depending on how many people you have to feed.

For example, one night I cooked and separated a small piece of salmon and tossed it with some whole wheat pasta, some basil, a little olive oil and some fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

I added just a spoonful of the Waldorf salad over a bed of salad greens, and the meal was complete.

The next night, I sautéed some collard greens, some onions and some mushrooms, and again served some of the wheat berry salad, and some of the left-over cooked salmon.

The point is, when you have just one prepared dish of whole foods waiting in the fridge, it’s so much easier to add something to it!

As far as the wheat berries go, you can create your own salad, combining whatever appeals to you. I love the apples, walnuts and raisins, but next time I’ll probably vary the recipe by adding some celery. I might also use basil, instead of cinnamon and nutmeg, and go with olive oil and lemon.

You can even use cooked wheat berries as a hot breakfast cereal.

You probably wouldn’t want to eat it every day, but fixing a batch a couple of times a month could be just the thing as a side for dinner, or as your main dish at lunch.

The thing to remember is you must allow time to soak the wheat berries (6-8 hours), and then they have to be cooked in boiling water brought to a simmer for about 50 minutes before you can begin adding any ingredients.

Just Google wheat berry recipes, find one that appeals to you, and then give it a try!

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