Skip to Content
UW Health SMPH
American Family Children's Hospital

A Guide to Whole Grains

Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber and nutrients, with each grain contributing different amounts and types of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Eating a variety of grains is the best way to make sure you are getting a well-balanced diet.
The recipe below combines several types of grains in one dish, offering a convenient way to meet this goal.
The recipe contains barley, which is high in soluble fiber—the type that helps lower blood cholesterol. Barley is also a good source of B vitamins and protein and lends a nutty flavor to soups and salads. This recipe calls for pearled barley to reduce the required cooking time.
Another ingredient is bulgur, a dried form of whole, unprocessed wheat kernels. The wheat is steamed, dried and then coarsely ground. Bulgur is often used in Middle Eastern dishes and is rich in B vitamins, iron and protein.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is also found in this recipe. Quinoa is a high protein grain which originated in South America. It is also rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, iron and phosphorus.
Long-grain white rice is included in this recipe to shorten the cooking time. Although brown rice would offer more fiber and can be substituted if you prefer, the other whole grains provide ample fiber in this recipe.
Four Grain Subsitute for Rice in Recipes
For convenience, combine these grains in this proportion:
  • 1 cup of rice 
  • 1/2 cup bulgur 
  • 1/4 cup each quinoa and barley
Store the mixture in a sealed container in your cupboard.
For a more interesting flavor, texture and a higher fiber intake, substitute this mixture wherever you would usually use rice (salads, casseroles, soups, pilaf, stir-fry).
Cooking Directions
Combine 1 cup of the mixture with 2 cups of water or broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until moisture is absorbed.
Four Grain Pilaf Recipe
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup quinoa
1/4 cup barley
1/2 cup bulgur
1 cup rice
4 cups reduced sodium chicken, beef, or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Saute onion in oil in a large saucepan or frying pan. Add dry grains and sauté until lightly toasted. Add broth and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and stir in parsley.
Yield: 10 (1/2 cup) servings
Nutrition Information Per Serving
Calories: 147
Fat: 1.2 gm
Carbohydrates: 29 gm
Protein: 3.8 gm
Fiber: 2 gm
Sodium: 280 mg