Healthy Swap-Outs, One Grain at a Time

The mention of healthy grains to most people is often met with a reaction of "ugh" — and, to some extent, for good reason. There are too many times that delicious and nutritious whole grains are cooked incorrectly and are left unseasoned, only to end up tasting bland and gummy. But, this is simply a mistake of improper preparation and has nothing to do with the loveliness of the grain being used.

Click here to see 10 Healthy, Whole-Grain Breakfasts

The benefit of using these "healthy" grains is that they haven't been stripped of their nutrients, so that instead of people referring to pastas as "empty calories," they actually can be a source of fiber, nutrients, and vitamins. Make some simple swaps in the next pasta, salad, or tabouleh recipe at home and the meal will be more nutritious with that change alone.

These healthy grains aren't just limited to whole-wheat pastas or breads; there are so many alternatives available today. Take for instance spelt pasta, used in this delicious penne alla vodka recipe. Or barley, which can be used in stews and soups — just take note that hulled (or whole-grain) barley is the most nutritious form of the grain; others, like pearl or scotch barley, have the nutritious outer husk removed. Bulgur, the grain popular in the Middle East, can be used in pilafs, salads, or even in risottos like the one below. Farro, pronounced like my last name ("Far-O"), is an ancient grain that has become popular over the past few years; it can be found as is or used in pastas.

Check out the slideshow above for great healthy grain recipes!

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