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Monday, May 11, 2009

Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad: An introduction to grains

My name is Janina and I am thankful for a fun and energetic friend like Jen who has let me guest-post. I have found my passion which is being a life coach! While furthering my life coaching skills, I have experienced personal growth and learned better how to serve others. I hope you enjoy my guest-blog.

What are Wheat Berries?
“Do you have a busy schedule? If you are like most people I know, there is always something going on. I work full time and don't have a lot of time to cook a nice meal when I get home. So my husband and I try to eat as well as possible but that has resulted in things that cook quickly and get wrapped up. Something we have been eating often are those faux chicken nuggets from Morning Star in a wheat wrap with some salsa, lettuce, shredded cheese and anything else are in the mood to throw in them. Or it might be soup made with a couple cans of beans, can of diced tomatoes, low sodium vegetable broth and chicken sausage. Sometimes, we make grilled tuna melts on wheat english muffins. Simple and not too bad but it's getting pretty boring. I recently hired myself a health coach named Laura Ely. I have a couple of goals: create a new attitude towards exercise so that I am active most of the time and learn about new foods (or get reacquainted with old foods) and want to choose healthier foods more often.

This month, I was introduced to grains. The list had some things I have never heard of! Buckwheat, amaranth, bulgur, kamut, millet and wheat berries were a few things on the list of grains. Brown rice was on the list but guess what? The brown rice in the microwave bag that is ready in 90 seconds doesn't count! Yes, it's better than the flavored ones which are loaded with sodium but it's not as good as real rice that has to be soaked and cooked. The thing with making recipes with grains is going for the ingredients that are close to the source. I started with wheat berries. First, I had to learn what wheat berries were!

The term wheatberry or wheat berry refers to the entire wheat kernel (except for the hull), comprising the bran, germ, and endosperm. Wheatberries have a tan to reddish brown color and are available as either a hard or soft processed grain. They are often added to salads or baked into bread to add a crunchy texture; as a whole grain, they also provide nutritional benefits since they are an excellent source of dietary fiber.

I am glad my coach showed me the wheat berries before and after cooking. It took some planning but is something I think I can do from time to time. I soaked them overnight. Then the next morning I cooked them on the stove for 50 minutes. This is a far cry from the way we prepared foods before! After they cooled off, later in the afternoon, I made a very nice and easy wheat berry waldorf salad!

Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad
2 cups wheat berries
7 cups water
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 medium apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped
1 cup raisins
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup apple juice
1 TB salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup lemon juice

Soak the wheat berries at least 6 to 8 hours or overnight in water to cover by a couple inches. Drain the water, and set aside.

In a saucepan, bring 7 cups water to a boil. Add the soaked wheat berries and turn down to a simmer, uncovered, for about 50 minutes or until they are totally cooked through. Wheat berries retain a firm, chewy texture when cooked. Drain the water and set aside to cool.

When cool, transfer the wheatberries to a large mixing bowl and add the walnuts, apples, raisins, parsley, apple cider vinegar, apple juice, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, olive oil and lemon juice. Mix everything together thoroughly. Add more salt if necessary and serve.With so many choices (of grains), I got overwhelmed. So I get very specific with an ingredient like I did with the wheatberries and one or two recipes and give it a try over a couple of weeks. I don't have to do everything all at once. I know my new habits will last longer if I am introduced to them slowly and have time to incorporate them.

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Chow and Chatter said...

very interesting post all the best with your new vocation

Tangled Noodle said...

I'd love to try wheatberries - I've had them in restaurant dishes but haven't tried it at home yet. Thanks for the great info and recipe!

Alisa said...

I love wheat berries, but they do take planning. I wonder if they might work well in a crock pot.

Soma said...

I have been seeing the wheatberry around the blog. Good inforamtion! I need to try this sometimes.

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