The great grain guide

By Melissa Scheepers, 6 September 2017

Your packed lunches are about to get grainier. Get a pot of lentils or barley on the go and you’ll have a versatile base for wholesome dinners and, if you make extra, you’ll have some left over for work lunches, too.

Grains are only considered whole grains when all three edible parts of the seed (bran, germ and endosperm) are still intact. Brown rice, barley, whole oats, millet and quinoa are all considered to be whole grains.

Refined grains are processed and parts of the seed are removed and are usually labelled cracked, crushed, rolled or cooked. These milling techniques are said to produce a product with a longer shelf life. However, naturally occurring protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre are also removed during the process. It is understood that whole grains take longer to digest, which means they’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer. They’re also believed to balance blood sugar levels.


A mixture of cumin, coriander, allspice and cinnamon give this recipe a subtle Middle Eastern flare. Do note that brown rice takes a little more time to cook, but adding some crunchy legumes such as lentils will help to speed things up in the kitchen.

Get the mujadara recipe here.

Find more recipes featuring brown rice here.


Chewy, nutty barley pairs perfectly with garlicky roast beetroot and fresh dill. Don’t be shy with the feta topping either.

Get the baked barley pilau with roasted beetroot and feta recipe here.

Discover more recipes featuring barley here.


Take this everyday grain from breakfast to dinner by adding a mixture of butter, chicken stock, leeks, mushrooms and fresh cream. Add shavings of Parmesan for a little extra satisfaction.

Get the savoury oats with creamy leeks, mushrooms and Parmesan recipe here.
Discover more recipes featuring oats here.


This naturally gluten-free grain has a subtle flavour similar to corn and is a great substitute for traditional risotto rice, but cooks a lot quicker. The celery leaf pesto is great for using up fresh greens before they wilt.

Get the millet risotto with celery leaf pesto recipe here.


This is an ancient grain that is a complete protein and naturally gluten-free. It’s a favourite among vegetarians, vegans and those who are gluten-intolerant. With a texture similar to couscous and the versatility of rice, we can totally understand the craze.

Get the herbed quinoa salad recipe here.

Discover more recipes featuring quinoa here.

Discover more health-conscious recipes here.

Melissa Scheepers

Article by Melissa Scheepers

Woolworths TASTE’s online content producer has faced constant temptation since joining the team last year. When she’s not thinking about her next meal (it’s usually a variation of a cheese toastie), she’s researching the best cooking methods for her next article.
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