It’s all about those grains. Or well, it should be. Due to various diet gurus advocating low or zero carbohydrate diets, and possibly the quinoa craze of the late ‘00s, grain-containing products have gotten a bad rep, which they totally do not deserve. Grains indeed contain carbs, but they are also incredible sources of fibre, provide plenty of healthy nutrients, and are a cost-effective kitchen staple. On top of that they are incredibly versatile and great to diversify any restrictive diet with; vegan and gluten-free diets will become much more diverse when more types of grains are used. As grains in their unprocessed form are a rather daunting prospect for the grain-beginners, we’ll provide you with the tips needed to start integrating grains into your everyday routine. How to Store Grains? In a domestic setting most of us don’t have access to silo but we do have our kitchen cupboards or pantry. Grains have a great shelf-life and can be kept for months without spoiling. The most important thing about storing grains is to store them away from moisture, heat, and air – meaning that airtight containers are the most suitable storage solution. Just make sure that the containers are fully dry before filling them with your newly acquired grains. You could keep them in the back of your pantry or kitchen cupboards, OR you could be a real ‘homemaker’ and store your grains in some rustic-looking mason jars. Add some pretty labels with the name of the grain and the use by date, and turn your pantry into a pantry that every zero-waste or mom-blogger would die for. How Long Can You Store Grains? After experiencing nationwide grocery shortages at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have all learnt our lesson that it is important to always have some essentials on hand in case the nation starts hoarding like squirrels before hibernation. Yet another reason as to why grains are great; their shelf life! Grains, when kept in the right conditions, keep for months. Depending on the grain the shelf life is be between 2-6 months and they could last even longer. It is very simple to check whether your grains are still good for consumption; you simply smell them. If they are odourless or if they have a slightly sweet smell, they are good to go. If they smell musty or oily it is time to replace them with a fresh batch. Make sure to thoroughly clean and dry the containers after emptying the ‘off’ batch. How to Prepare Grains Grains are incredibly versatile. As well as being great on their own, for example as the foundation for a couscous-type dish, they also make great substitutes to other carbohydrates in your meals. One jar of oats could provide a base for a lovely porridge, oat milk, or even biscuits. They can be ground up into flour for baking too. By using grains as a foundation to your dishes, you’ll easily integrate valuable nutrients into your recipes. Do you have any dietary restrictions that hold you back from enjoying wheat products? Why not have a look at different grains! Grains like buckwheat do not contain gluten, and are therefore a great grain to experiment with in the kitchen for some gluten free snacks such as pancakes. In their most basic form, grains can be prepared similar to rice. They are often boiled in water or broth and then the excess water is drained, leaving you with lovely fluffy grains which you can add to any dish. Cooking time varies per type of grain, so it’s worth checking the packaging for exact instructions. One tip for speeding up the process is to soak your grains in water for a few hours before cooking as it will shorten the cooking time. After cooking, the grains will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge, ready to be added to salads or to be reheated for another meal. How to Use Grains in a Recipe? As a pilaf tossed with sauteed vegetables and plenty of fresh herbs In place of rice or noodles in soup Cooked with dried fruit and topped with milk or yoghurt for breakfast Tossed with chopped veggies and a vibrant vinaigrette for a cool salad As a base for curries and stir-fries As a hearty stuffing for vegetables and roasts The options of cooking with grains are endless, and to help you get started on your way to some serious grains (… get it) Wholefood Earth will be launching our own recipe blog soon, so subscribe to our mailing list here to keep up to date with great recipe ideas. Hopefully we’ve convinced you to ingrain (… get it) grains into your diets and pantries. It may take a bit of practice, but soon you’ll love the diverse range of flavours grains can add to your diet.