8 Whole Grains to Eat More (Besides Brown Rice)

Whole wheat pasta and brown rice are just the beginning.

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Whole-wheat bread and brown rice sushi are great ways to add more whole grains to your diet, but let’s be honest: You’ve been eating them for years and they’re getting pretty boring by this point. No need to get stuck in a whole-grain rut, though. You can find a variety of hearty, high-fiber grains that may become your new fave.

And there’s a good reason to seek variety. The American Heart Association recommends six to eight servings of grains a day, and at least half of them should be whole (sorry, Wonder Bread). Instead of eating whole-wheat spaghetti three times a day, you can make your meals more exciting by branching out.

Here are eight popular grains to try out for your next dinner. (And yes, some of them are even gluten-free!)

  1. Amaranth. This grain is perfect for making porridge or baked goods. You can also “puff” it on the stove to add a crunch to your yogurt. It’s also a high-protein option, with 9.5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Bonus: it’s also gluten-free.

  2. Barley. You’ll commonly find this grain in soups and stews, like vegetable barley soup. It’s a high-fiber grain, with 3.5 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber.

  3. Oats. While these are technically gluten-free, they are sometimes processed with the same equipment as wheat, so look for ones that are certified gluten-free. You already know you can make oatmeal or granola with oats, but you can branch out with oatmeal pancakes, oatmeal smoothies, or muesli, a granola-like cereal popular in Switzerland and the U.K. Oats have 7 grams of protein and 5.5 grams of fiber.

  4. Quinoa. Technically, this is a seed, not a grain, but it cooks and tastes just like grains do. It has 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, and it’s perfect for stuffing peppers or bulking up a veggie chili. Oh, and it’s naturally gluten-free.

  5. Millet. This one is gluten-free as well. It’s great as a binding agent in veggie burgers, or as a crunch factor in granola. It contains 6 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber.

  6. Farro. This grain is very popular in Mediterranean cooking, so try it with fish or mixed into a salad with roasted veggies. It has 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

  7. Bulgur. With a whopping 8 grams of fiber (and 5.5 grams of protein), bulgar definitely fills you up. It’s commonly used to make a hearty pilaf in place of rice. (Here’s how to make pilaf with quinoa, too.)

  8. Buckwheat. Despite its name, buckwheat is actually not a wheat (and is even gluten-free). You can make a breakfast porridge with it, or you can try soba noodles, which is common in East Asian cuisines and made from buckwheat flour. (Here’s a recipe for coconut lime noodles using buckwheat soba noodles.)