Very high in protein, millet is a tiny grain that’s widely used in India and Africa. Depending on how it is prepared, millet can have the texture of light fluffy rice or mashed potatoes. “Millet combines beautifully with quinoa, since both require the same amount of cooking,” says Scott Samuel, a chef and instructor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.
Cooking tips: 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of grain. Simmer, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes for a light, fluffy rice-like texture. For a dish with the consistency of mashed potatoes, stir frequently while the grains cook, adding water as needed.
Pronounced keen-wah, quinoa is a small round seed that cooks quickly. It’s perfect as a substitute for rice as a side dish or in soups and stews. Quinoa also combines well with other grains, especially millet.
Cooking tips: Rinse the grains to remove bitterness. Use 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa. Simmer 25 to 30 minutes.
Also called milo, sorghum comes both as a whole grain and whole grain flour. The grain can be popped, like popcorn, or made into porridge. The flour can be substituted for wheat flour in recipes for muffins, cookies, and other baked goods.
Cooking tip: Sorghum grains can be lightly toasted to enhance their flavor. Use 2 cups of water to 1 cup of grain, adding more water if necessary as it cooks.
Also known as farro, this slightly sweet and earthy-flavored grain is a variety of wheat. You’ll find it in whole grain breads and cereals. Spelt is also available ground into flour.
Cooking tips: 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of grain. Simmer 50 to 60 minutes. Spelt flour can be used as a substitute for wheat flour. Reduce water by 25%.
Used in Ethiopia to make flatbreads, this relative of millet is one of the smallest grains in the world. Very high in iron and calcium, teff has a sweet, malt-like flavor. It can be cooked for porridge or added to baked goods. Teff flour, which is gluten free, is also available.
Cooking tips: For cooking, use 4 cups of water for one cup of teff. Boil for 20 minutes or until tender. Because teff grains are so small, use less than you would other grains for porridge. Teff can also be added uncooked to baked goods.