No doubt you’ve been seeing new grains cropping up in online recipes, health food blogs, and even on shelves in the stores. These grains are giving pasta some healthy competition. Just as kale is the new lettuce, grains like quinoa are the”grains of the moment”. There are also several other grains making a debut on the shelves of regular grocery stores in the past few years. Health food specialty stores have been carrying them for years of course. As much as my family loves pasta and rice, I needed some new healthy ideas so I’ve been exploring and trying various other grains.

Have you tried any of these 5 great grains yet?

Quinoa

Quinoa has been around for thousands of years and just now is surging in popularity. It’s been called a super food because of quinoa’s high protein content and abundance of anti inflammatory phytonutrients, fiber and small amount of omega 3’s. Cooked like rice, you can add spices to quinoa to vary the flavor and it’s particularly good with nuts, beans, raisins and other seeds. Quinoa is fluffy and can be filling. I often use it as a base for stir fried vegetables, much like rice in Chinese cooking. It’s also a gluten-free food.

Farro

A healthy whole grain that has been eaten for thousand of years like quinoa, farro is low gluten and packed with protein. One cup has more fiber than a cup of brown rice.Farro is full of minerals, like magnesium. Add it to soups or make a risotto with it.

Bulgar

A nutritious and quick cooking form of whole wheat. Bulgar has a pleasant nut like flavor and can be stored for long periods of time, making it a great pantry staple. It’s another grain that is high in fiber and vitamins. Since it’s pre-cooked, simply simmering it like rice makes bulgar very convenient too. It’s great added to stews and casseroles and can even be added to hamburger meat or meatloaf to make them healthier and stretch your meat further.

Barley

Barley is an excellent versatile grain. It’s chewiness makes it have an appealing consistency for pasta lovers and it’s nut like flavor is loved by many. Beef barely soup is a popular way to eat your barley. It’s a great source of minerals and fiber too. Barley is another grain used for more than 10,000 years.

Buckwheat

Another superb grain for people sensitive to wheat or anyone looking for a substitute to rice. Like the other grains here, buckwheat is full of fiber and phyto nutrients. Often ground into flour, buckwheat flour makes delicious gluten-free pancakes.

Most of the grains above can be bought in bulk at health food markets or come in smaller boxes on the shelves at store. A simple online search can help you discover ways to store them and to cook with them. Their versatility and major health benefits make it worth it to give these alternatives to pasta and rice a try.