Food trends come and go, but one phenomenon has stood the test of time – the importance of whole grains. Not only do they fill us with wholesome nutrients, but they’re also excellent for holding up in sturdy stews, make a great addition to a breakfast bowl, and can add a certain depth of flavor to everything from cheesy casseroles to rustic risottos.

Aside from their popularity in the wellness department, whole grains have also gained somewhat of a reputation as being a difficult grain to manage. More specifically, most find that they take just too long to cook.

That said, before you check out our favorite comforting whole grain recipes, we’d like to fill you in on a little secret. Contrary to what people say, preparing brown rice doesn’t have to take an hour and a day. Cooking hearty grains is all about making the most of your microwave

Okay, we know not everyone likes to use their microwave to cook up a family dinner but, hear us out – microwaving your whole grain rice will cut down your cooking time from the average 45 minutes to an hour to less than 30 minutes – tops. Not to mention, it’s one less thing you’ll need to worry about.

Fast & Tasty Whole Grains in the Microwave

  • Step 1: In a microwave-safe dish, combine two cups of water and one cup of rice. Add olive oil and salt, if desired.
  • Step 2: Cover and microwave and set it on High for five minutes. After five minutes, reduce the setting to 50% power and continue to microwave for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

We recommend only using this cooking method when making one cup of whole-grain rice – which can serve up to four people. If you still prefer the classic method, click here for instructions on how to cook our Carolina® Whole Grains on the stovetop.

Get Your Fill of Tex-Mex

Now that you know your cooking options, let’s talk about our favorite homemade whole-grain eats. Starting with this Tex-Mex Style Brown Rice & Bean Burrito, made with black beans, cheddar cheese, and our Carolina® Whole Grain Brown Rice.

Made with a mix of spices including, chili powder, cumin powder, and minced garlic – it’s not just the whole grains that will leave you feeling satisfied. Top with light sour cream, salsa, and a bit of fresh lime for a refreshing Mexican-inspired lunch.

Umami-Filled Shrimp & Rice Salad

Taking it to the eastern side of the world – this Shrimp & Rice Salad with Sesame Orange Dressing is nothing short of invigorating. Made with some veggie-favorites like peppers, jalapeños, and avocados, this rice salad is one of our go-to whole-grain lunch options.

Sesame Orange Shrimp and Asian Brown Rice Salad
Sesame Orange Shrimp and Carolina® Brown Rice Salad

Zesty, orange and ginger dressing gets mixed with your choice of orange marmalade and succulent shrimp, to create the ideal citric, savory and sweet combo. Then, all these flavors are balanced out by juicy fruits including mango and Asian pear.

Homemade Pilaf with Whole Grains

Nutritious is this pilaf’s middle name. Easy to assemble and made from whole ingredients, it’s a healthy, classic pilaf you can make as a tasty side along with a classic rotisserie chicken or have it on its own!

Brown Rice & Shiitake Pilaf
Brown Rice Asparagus & Shiitake Pilaf

In addition to hearty whole grains, this pilaf amps up its nutrients with fresh shiitake mushrooms, minced garlic, pine nuts, and crunchy asparagus. All lightly dressed with a touch of lemon zest and olive oil – it’s light, 100% vegan, and must-try in our book.

Hungry for more nourishing eats? Search our recipe repertoire for more whole grain dishes including korean fried rice bowls and tasty black bean cakes.