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6 Healthy Whole-Grain Dinners

Think outside the brown-rice box and tap the slimming powers of whole grains like bulgur, barley, and quinoa with these 6 delicious, satisfying dishes.

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dinner recipes with whole grains
Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito
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Prev 1 of 7 Next

3-Grain Salad with White Beans, Tomatoes, and Parmesan

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 55 minutes

Ingredients
1/2 cup hulled barley*
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup farro**
1/4 cup bulgur
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 smashed garlic clove
1 cup drained, rinsed cannellini beans
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 cup torn fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan

Directions
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the barley and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt; boil for 30 minutes. Add the farro; boil for an additional 20 to 25 minutes or until both grains are just tender. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, bring 6 tablespoons of water to a boil in a small saucepan; add the bulgur. Bring the liquid back to a boil, then cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let sit for 25 minutes, until the water is absorbed.
3. In a large bowl, toss together the vinegar, onion, garlic, and remaining salt.
4. Add the grains to the vinegar mixture while still warm; toss well. Remove the garlic and stir in the beans, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil; season with black pepper to taste. Fold in the Parmesan and serve.
Nutrition facts per serving: 365 calories, 14g protein, 53g carbohydrate, 13g fat (2.5g saturated), 12g fiber

* With its chewy, pastalike texture, barley is a great addition to soups and stews. It's loaded with satisfying protein and fiber.

** A hearty grain with plenty of protein, farro is used in soups and salads. It has a distinct nutty taste.

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Prev 2 of 7 Next

Indian-Spiced Chicken and Rice

Makes: 6 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice
1 inch fresh gingerroot, peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon each ground cumin, ground coriander, and ground turmeric
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup light coconut milk
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 cinnamon stick
Large handful green beans (6 ounces), sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped roasted cashews
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons sliced fresh mint or cilantro (optional)

Directions
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the rice. Boil for 25 minutes; drain well.
2. Meanwhile, finely grate the gingerroot and crush the garlic and place in a large bowl; combine with the salt, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and 1/2 cup of the coconut milk. Add the chicken; cover and refrigerate until the rice is ready.
3. Warm the olive oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown, 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon stick and continue to cook, stirring, until fragrant, 3 more minutes.
4. Reduce the heat to low. Transfer half the onions to a plate, leaving the cinnamon stick and the rest of the onions in the pot. Over them, layer the partially cooked rice, green beans, half the cashews, and then the chicken with its marinade. Pour the chicken broth and the remaining coconut milk over the top; sprinkle with the reserved onions.
5. Cover and cook over low heat until the chicken and rice are cooked through and the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and serve topped with the remaining cashews and, if desired, the sliced mint or cilantro.
Nutrition facts per serving: 376 calories, 23g protein, 45g carbohydrate, 12g fat (3g saturated), 3g fiber

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Prev 3 of 7 Next

Tabbouleh with Feta and Shrimp

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
1 cup bulgur*
1 packed cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch salt
Pinch ground cumin
Pinch dried mint
8 ounces medium cleaned, shelled, tail-on shrimp, thawed if frozen
1 large pickling cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup chopped scallion
1/4 cup crumbled feta

Directions
1. Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan and add the bulgur. Bring the liquid back to a boil and then cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let sit for 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together 1 teaspoon of the parsley with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, cumin, and mint.
3. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the shrimp and simmer for 1 1/2 minutes. Drain, then rinse under cool water.
4. Place the bulgur in a serving bowl and toss with the shrimp, cucumber, tomato, scallion, feta, the remaining parsley, and the dressing. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Nutrition facts per serving: 297 calories, 19g protein, 35g carbohydrate, 10g fat (2.3g saturated), 9g fiber

* Bulgur cooks quickly and has a subtle, nutty flavor. Try it in soups, salads, and stuffings or as a substitute for rice.

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Prev 4 of 7 Next

Whole-Grain Spaghetti with Peppers, Turkey Sausage, and Goat Cheese

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
12 ounces whole wheat or dark spelt* spaghetti (available at some supermarkets and natural food stores)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
1/2 red onion, sliced
4 bell peppers (one each red, green, orange, and yellow), cored and sliced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
2 teaspoons balsamic or red wine vinegar, or to taste
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Black pepper

Directions
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the spaghetti. Cook per package instructions until al dente, then drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and saute, crumbling it with a spatula, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
3. Pour off any fat, then heat the remaining olive oil in the pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the bell peppers and, if desired, the jalapeno. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are soft and beginning to brown, 15 minutes. Stir in the vinegar.
4. Add the drained pasta and reserved cooking water to the pan and toss over medium heat for 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and toss the pasta with the goat cheese. Season with black pepper and serve.
Nutrition facts per serving: 439 calories, 21g protein, 67g carbohydrate, 11g fat (2.7g saturated), 16g fiber

* Spelt is related to wheat, but it's higher in protein and vitamins. Its deep, nutty flavor gives pasta and breads a rich taste.

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Prev 5 of 7 Next

Spicy Salmon with Olive-and-Lemon Quinoa

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
1/2 cup chopped scallions
Small pinch red pepper flakes
Pinch salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Nonstick cooking spray
1 pound thick skin-on salmon fillet
1 cup quinoa*, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons pitted, chopped black olives
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the scallions and red pepper with the salt and 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil.
2. Spray a small roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray and lay the salmon in it skin side down. Cover the fish with the scallion-and-red-pepper mixture. Roast the salmon in the top third of the oven until it is barely opaque at the center of the thickest part, about 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the quinoa; cover and cook over low heat until the water is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining olive oil and the pine nuts, olives, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Serve the salmon over the quinoa.
Nutrition facts per serving: 472 calories, 31g protein, 30g carbohydrate, 26g fat (4.9g saturated), 3g fiber

* Technically a seed, quinoa is packed with protein and magnesium, a nutrient that lowers blood pressure. Light and fluffy, quinoa is perfect for salads and side dishes.

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Prev 6 of 7 Next

Beef-and-Vegetable Kebabs with Whole Wheat Couscous Pilaf

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
1/4 teaspoon each ground cumin, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, and ground ginger
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces lean boneless beef, such as round or rump roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1/2-by-1-inch pieces
1 small yellow squash, cut into 1/2-by-1-inch pieces
1 small red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-by-1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat couscous
3 tablespoons golden raisins
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
Sliced cucumber and tomato (optional)
Minced parsley (optional)

Directions
1. Preheat the broiler. Stir the ground spices together in a medium bowl. Transfer a pinch of this mixture to a small bowl and set aside. Add the lemon juice and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the medium bowl; then add the beef, bell pepper, squash, and onion. Toss well to coat. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, add the remaining olive oil, the reserved spices, and the salt to 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous and raisins. Cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 5 minutes until the water is absorbed, then fluff with a fork. Fold in the almonds. 3. Thread the beef and vegetables on skewers. Set a wire cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet and lay the skewers on the rack. Broil 3 inches from the heat, turning once or twice, until the vegetables are slightly charred at the edges and the meat is cooked, 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Remove the ingredients from the skewers and arrange them over the couscous accompanied by the cucumber and tomato slices and sprinkled with minced parsley if desired.
Nutrition facts per serving: 508 calories, 28g protein, 59g carbohydrate, 19g fat (4.6g saturated), 10g fiber

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2010.

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Bellaella23 wrote:

Imbizzz, it is refined grains nutritionists are after for causing obesity. Dr. Fuhrmans 6 week plan includes on serving of whole grains daily. Remove the oil and parmesan and you are "Eating to Live" with this dish. They even included beans! Some of us don't want to eat like a rabbit for EVERY meal. If you don't like it then don't make it! Fitness I loved your healthy grain recipes, great work!

3/13/2013 05:49:29 AM Report Abuse
imbizzz wrote:

Hi, I am suprised to see that you call the "Whole Grain Dinners", healthy dinners, when all the specialist nutrionist doctors like Joel Fuhrmann, William Davis etc.etc. say in their books and lectures that all whole wheats should be banned from all diets. They cause obesity, diabetes and many other inflammatory deseases.

6/21/2012 10:12:12 AM Report Abuse
mullernancyj wrote:

It would be much appreciated if your recipes also had the sodium content listed

10/8/2011 11:10:47 AM Report Abuse
a4295838 wrote:

Right now I am following the Diet Plan for You blog by nutrition specialist Kate Hill. Kate helped me lose weight in a healthy way in few weeks, without starving! If you want to lose weight, just visit Kate's blog at: http://dietplanforyou.blogspot.com/ I sincerely recommend it. Good luck to you all!

9/17/2011 03:31:09 AM Report Abuse
tc12spr85 wrote:

I tried the 3 grain salad with white beans, tomatos and parmesan and loved it.

4/26/2010 01:04:02 PM Report Abuse

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FITNESS magazine, March 2010
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