It’s tempting to call these dinner when all you have to do to prep them is boil water and add a packet of seasonings. But your meal will lack balance. “A grain alone is not a complete meal,” says Susan Saffel-Shrier, M.S., R.D., certified gerontologist and associate professor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Adding some vegetables and protein, in addition to using some care when you shop for and prepare your grain, can help you make it a balanced plate. Try:
• Choosing a product made with a whole grain, such as wild rice, quinoa, or whole-wheat couscous.
• Using half the seasoning packet. You’ll still get plenty of flavor, but you’ll slash the sodium.
• Adding protein by mixing in chopped chicken, beans, or tofu, and topping off the blend with almonds or sesame seeds, says Lauri Wright, Ph.D., R.D.N., chair of the nutrition department at the University of North Florida. Or make it a power bowl. These blends of whole grains, greens, a protein, and vegetables are all the rage at restaurants and salad joints but can be pricey. Making your own is cheaper and easy: Combine about a cup of the cooked grain (refrigerate the rest to use in another meal) with any vegetables you choose, and a protein.
• Stir in a bag of stir-fried or steamed cauliflower rice to stretch your grain without significantly changing the consistency of the meal.
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