Bulgur Wheat Trumps Top Ramen!

Heidi Diller, RD
As the Corporate Dietitian for the food retailer, Albertsons, as well as a wife and a mom of two hungry boys, my world is mostly about food.  At work I help to navigate the health and wellness world by creating marketing and communications strategies designed to make healthy eating easier for our customers. Then at home, I start all over again, thinking about ways to create wholesome food for my family.  Yep, I’m a foodie 24/7! You can learn more about Heidi by visiting her blog or reaching out to her on Twitter @heididiller.

Last fall my youngest son Ryan headed off to college, moving into an apartment- style dorm.  After about a month of living on his own he called looking for some “healthier” meal ideas.  Healthier?  I almost dropped my phone. Seriously, here was a boy who could have cared less about healthy food just a few months ago.  Now he wanted to cook something healthy?  (So, parents of teenagers, don’t despair!)  Well, I knew right away that just sending him to an internet recipe site probably wouldn’t help because his cooking skills were limited. So in an effort to “show him the basics” my friend Janis and I created the recipe blog Better Than Dorm Food.  The blog enabled me to post a recipe, with step-by–step picture instructions, so I could show him and other college students cooking techniques, like how to sauté onions or how to make perfect rice in a recipe without burning it. It was just the right solution for a new cook.

One day Ryan asked me, “Mom, what do you do with bulgur wheat?”  He had purchased a 5 pound bag of bulgur wheat at a local farmers market. “Well, It was cheap, and it looked interesting.”  Ah…bulgur wheat trumped the Top Ramen! Fortunately, I’m a huge fan of bulgur wheat because it fits right into the healthy, Mediterranean style of eating that I love and promote.  And the bulgur provided the perfect ingredient to work around. The beauty of this whole grain is that it cooks quickly and is wonderful in recipes as a meat replacement because it has a hearty texture and also provides protein. Combine it with other healthy Mediterranean-style ingredients like vegetables, legumes, olive oil and reduced fat feta and you have a delicious, meatless meal any Mediterranean Mama would be proud of!   

Was this recipe a hit? You bet it was.  He and his roommates made extra portions and ate it for lunch the next day too.  It’s a Mediterranean-style meal you can make in less than 20 minutes all for less than $3.00 per serving…easy, quick, nutritious and delicious!

Lemony Greek Garbanzo Salad   
Makes 5 Cups (or about 3 medium bowl servings)


¾ cup bulgur wheat
1 ½ cup water
½ red onion, chopped
½ cucumber, diced (not peeled)
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped or 1 tablespoon dry
2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Add bulgur wheat and water to a medium sized pot and simmer for 15 minutes. When done pour into a medium sized bowl and let cool.

When the bulgur is cool, add the red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, garbanzo beans and dill to the bowl and toss. Combine the olive oil and lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Add oil mixture to the salad and toss until well combined.  Gently fold in the feta cheese.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.  Garnish with fresh dill.

Nutrition Information per Cup: 176 Calories, 6.5 g Fat, 22 g Carbohydrate, 6g Fiber, 340 mg Sodium, 6.5 g Protein

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