Unlike their refined counterparts, whole grains contain all three parts of the grain: the bran, germ and endosperm. Whole grains are far more nutritious than refined grains, less calorie-dense and rich in fiber.
Here's a whole-grain primer from "The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook: 150 Recipes For Healthy Living," By Judith Finlayson; Robert Rose; $24.95:
AMARANTH, from the Greek word "unfading," has a strong, earthy flavor and almost gummy texture. Cook as breakfast cereal or bake into quick bread. A half cup has 73 calories and 2.8 grams protein.
BARLEY has a mild, slightly nutty flavor and a pleasingly complex texture. A half cup has 93 calories and 3.3 grams protein.
BUCKWHEAT has an intense flavor, which may take a little getting used to. It's quick cooking and ready in about 15 minutes. Use in salads or pilafs or substitute for some of the ground meat in meatloaves. A half cup has 113 calories and 4.3 grams protein.
JOB'S TEARS is chewy and has a distinctive nutty taste. It can be combined with brown rice for a side dish or added to soups or stews along with long-cooking whole grains. It's used in Asia to treat joint conditions such as arthritis. A half cup has 108 calories and 3.2 grams protein.
MILLET is the original ingredient used to make polenta. It's the major ingredient in injera, the Ethiopian flatbread. A half cup has 108 calories and 3.2 grams protein.
QUINOA, the seed of a leafy plant related to spinach, has a mild nutty taste that is very pleasing. Cooks in about 15 minutes. A half cup has 106 calories and 3.7 grams protein.