Sep 19, 2014

Why Grains are Good for you

Grains are the edible seeds of plants that belong to the cereal grass family. They can contain carbohydrates, protein, fibre, thiamine, folate and iodine. They also contribute significant amounts of magnesium, zinc, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin E3.

They are found in foods including wholemeal or wholegrain breads or crispbreads; dark ‘seedy’ breads; wholegrain breakfast cereals; wheatgerm and brown rice; popcorn and puffed whole grains; bulgur, quinoa and couscous; and oatmeal.

According to Professor Stephen Lillioja at University of Wollongong in NSW, wholegrains are just as important as fruit and vegetables in protecting the body and Australians should be consuming at least 40 grams of wholegrains each day.

“When we consume whole grains, and bran in particular, we not only get fibre but also some highly specialised plant cells,” Professor Lillioja said. “Because these cells are plant ‘baby food’ they are stuffed full of vitamins and minerals. In fact, they contain so many antioxidants that wholegrains match fruit and vegetables as antioxidant foods, which seems to be a well kept secret.”

The healthiest grains are those that have undergone minimal processing and have few ingredients added. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends adults aged 19-50 years eat approximately 4-6 serves of cereal grass foods daily, most of which should be wholegrain. In older adults, 51-70 years, men should consume at least six serves and women four serves of cereal grass food each day.

One serve of wholegrains includes:

  • 1 slice bread
  • 1/2 cup cooked pasta, rice, noodles, barley, quinoa, buckwheat
  • 1/2 cup cooked porridge
  • 1/4 cup muesli
  • 2/3 cup wheat flakes
  • 3 crispbreads
  • 1 crumpet

It’s easy to incorporate wholegrains in your diet to make the most of the nutritional benefits they offer. Boost your wholegrains over dinner with this delicious recipe from ‘Three Blue Ducks’ by Mark LaBrooy and Darren Robertson (published by Plum, rrp $39.99).

Mushrooms and pearl barley with macadamia bread sauce

Serves: 6

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 20 minutes



  • 200 g pearl barley
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 1 pinch chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 200 g oyster mushrooms, sliced
  • 200 g enoki mushrooms
  • 200 g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 French shallot, chopped
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 lemon, zested, to serve
  • baby herbs, to serve

Macadamia bread sauce


  • 300 g sourdough bread, roughly chopped
  • 200 ml water
  • 40 ml olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 10 macadamia nuts

 If you wanted to, you could try this recipe using buckwheat or quinoa. The bread sauce adds some extra nuttiness with macadamias.


To make the bread sauce, put the bread, water, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and nuts in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season to taste and set aside.

Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the barley, then simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Drain, tip the barley back into the pan and add the olive oil and parsley and season with salt and pepper.

While the barley is cooking, sauté the mushrooms and shallot in the grapeseed oil for about 2 minutes until golden. Check the seasoning.

Spoon the barley into warm bowls, top with the mushrooms, add a small scoop of the bread sauce and sprinkle with the lemon zest and lots of baby herbs.

Do you enjoy plenty of wholegrains in your diet? What are your favourite recipes?