The grain, the whole grain and nothing but the grain

The past two nights for dinner Ryan and I have enjoyed 2 different whole grains. Since I have lovely pics from both meals I thought I would share these along with the information about these two different but very nutritious grains that were the basis of our last two dinners.

Let's start with this QUINOA breakfast we had for dinner on Wednesday night. This quinoa and blueberry mix I bought at a farmer's market while I was in San Diego. I didn't get to try it before we left Vegas so I brought it with us. For some reason Wednesday seemed like a nice night for a "breakfast".

So what is QUINOA exactly:

Although not a common item in most kitchens today, quinoa is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. Quinoa is available in your local health food stores throughout the year.
Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas."

A recently rediscovered ancient "grain" native to South America, quinoa was once called "the gold of the Incas," who recognized its value in increasing the stamina of their warriors. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. Not only is quinoa's amino acid profile well balanced, making it a good choice for vegans concerned about adequate protein intake, but quinoa is especially well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. In addition to protein, quinoa features a host of other health-building nutrients. Because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, this "grain" may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis.

I love quinoa so I was more than happy to indulge in this breakfast style concoction. Look at all those blueberries on top.
I just think this pic looks so cool the way the purple color is swirling around in the pot.
I also decided to make some scambled eggs to go along with the meal. While quinoa is a good source of protein, I felt that just the "cereal" would seem like something was missing from the dinner meal.
In the end, we went all out and added some shredded cheese to the eggs.
Look how nice that quinoa looks. Light and fluffy.
And the finished product. It was very delicious and the quinoa and blueberries from the mix can easily be replicated with the package.
Hopefully you will try quinoa in the near future if you have not already.

On to Thursday night's dinner. I was at the commissary earlier in the day and I came across a box of BARLEY. I can honestly say I don't remember the last time I had barley, but I did remember that I liked it. So I bought it and then came up with this idea for dinner. So what happens when you mix tofu, artichoke hearts and barley...I'll show you in just a moment.
So what is BARLEY exactly:
Barley is a wonderfully versatile cereal grain with a rich nutlike flavor and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency. Its appearance resembles wheat berries, although it is slightly lighter in color. Sprouted barley is naturally high in maltose, a sugar that serves as the basis for both malt syrup sweetener. When fermented, barley is used as an ingredient in beer and other alcoholic beverages.

When the weather's cold, a big pot of soup simmering on the stove warms the heart as well as the hearth. Adding some whole grain barley to the pot will improve your health along with the flavor of whatever soup or stew you're cooking. In addition to its robust flavor, barley's claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of fiber and selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese.
I love how this grain looks.
Next up was the tofu. The barley needed to cook for 45-50 minutes so I had some time to get the rest of our meal prepared. Since I don't have crazy cooking skills like so many of you in the blog world, I try to keep to things I know and I try to keep it as simple as possible. Too much action and my attention span is lost. So tofu for me is an easy one.
First I baked my slices...I did this so they would come out with a nice golden color (not shown here).
Once they were done I scrambled it!
Ok, so my barley was going a little crazy over here. Next time maybe a bigger pot.
These are Ryan's fave (expecially on pizza) so I thought since I was going to prepare tofu I should also give him one of his faves. Plus these marinated ones have a lot of flavor so I wouldn't had to add any season or salt to the dish, although I did toss some black pepper in just for good measure.
Chopped them up...
Wow, look how great that barley looks. BTW I swear it smelled like oatmeal (and tasted like it to). Another light and fluffy grain.
Added some artichocke juice to my pan and cooked the artichokes with the tofu for about 10 minutes on low heat.
Then I served my tofu artichoke mixture over a bed of barley. It was really yummy. I made too much I think because this is what I am having for lunch. Haha, I love leftovers from dinner.
So that's the grain, the whole grain and nothing but the grain!

Oh, and I learned something new about my generous neighbors. They have orange trees in their backyard, so we got some lovely oranges yesterday. Haven't tried one yet, but I am looking forward to tasting these today.
Right now we are in the super duper crazy insane windy season. So windy that a loose tile on our walkway flew into the air and shattered.

Note to self...give up on the power bars. I bought this one too since when I was in college I loved the PB flavor. This is what the store here had so I bought it. Seriously, it couldn't be any worse than the one from the other day. At least it had half the fat of that glorified candy bar.
I liked what I saw...too bad I didn;t like what I tasted. This was so sweet I thought my teeth would fall out. Again, first ingredient was basically sugar. If my family is reading please get up, go to the store and buy me some clif bars or something, then ship! Oh wait, scratch that I have tons of lara bars on the way...thanks mom!
Oh wow, I almost forgot to tell all of you...I was interviewed on the radio here (AFN station) for HAWC (health and wellness center) talk yesterday morning. I was asked to talk about vegetarian diets not only as a vegetarian, but also as a dietitian. I thought it was great that the dj made sure to have me share about my credentials so people knew they were getting sound advice. Also there with me was someone who works at the HAWC who is the closest thing to an active duty nutrition expert we have here (I'm civilian so I don't count). He is a diet tech with the air force and arrived here the same weekend as me, on my flight, plus he is working on the Oklahoma degree with me, so I was so happy when he invited me to be a guest speaker on the program. It was awesome. I love to talk and I got about 30 minutes air time with them. Since the station doesn;t stream live music, Ryan rigged his zune to the computer and recorded it for me. The file is huge and I am still trying to figure out how to get it to my family other than burn to a CD. If you have any ideas, let me know.

QUESTION: What is your favorite grain and how do you like to prepare it?


Gina; The Candid RD said...

Congrats on the radio talk show! That's great! I hope Ryan figures out a way for us to hear it.

I was planning on buying some Quinoa tomorrow at Trader Joe's for a recipe I have. Since I don't eat gluten, quinoa is one of the few whole grains I CAN eat! It's expensive though, which kind of stinks. The box lasts for a while though, as Nick doesn't really eat it a lot, yeah!

The tofu artichoke mixture looks great! I love artichoke but they are on the list of bad foods for IBS, which really stinks :(

Anonymous said...

I love quinoa, and we have been eating it a lot lately. Your post also reminded me that I used to make a really nice vegetable barley soup. I don't think I still have the recipe, but I think I'm going to improvise...

That's so great that you got to do the radio talk show! Sounds like fun!

Beth said...

I need to give quinoa another try--I think I'm just not fixing it right.

Could you order clif or lara bars from It looks like they deliver to APO/FPO. I actually buy a lot of stuff like that, and Kashi cereals, from Amazon, because after the 15 percent subscribe and save discount, its actually cheaper than buying from the local store!

Melissa said...

Congrats on the show! It sounds very exciting.

I've never had quinoa. I'm dying to try it though.

Anonymous said...

Quinoa and barley are two staples in my diet. I love em!!! Quinoa is amazing for you. My new fav grain, however, is millet. Kinda like couscous BUT a lot nuttier. :)

chow and chatter said...

cool a radio show and love quinoa great nutritional info

Nutritious is Delicious said...

I HEART Quinoa! ;) It's good stuff! You can keep the artichoke hearts though! haha

Congrats on the radio show!

Nicole, RD said...

Melinda, glad we found one another's blogs! I look forward to reading and following!

I have to ask...what is an Oklahoma degree? We're living in OK so I had to ask.

Where are you over-seas? My husband lived and worked in Italy for 2 years and I've spent a lot of time on the other side of the pond. I hope you're having a blast. I would JUMP at another opportunity to live anywhere else outside the US (not that I don't love my country, too!)

I've never prepared barley other than in soup, and I can't remember the last time I had quinoa. I need to get more adventurous! I love tofu, though and anything whole grain. Wild rice is a favorite whole grain, too!

Great post!

Tricia said...

Your post reminded me I need to jump on the Quinoa bandwagon. Thanks!

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