It’s Time to “Greenify” Your Grains

Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RD, CSSD
Wendy Jo is co-author of the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies and owner of Edible Nutrition & Fuelin’ Roadie. You can find her bouncing between Austin, Texas and San Diego, California. For more recipes or information check out her website: and say hello to her on Twitter @EdibleNutrition

Instead of tossing grains out of your diet, consider first how you serve them.  Growing up in South Texas, a side dish of rice or buttered pasta was standard fare around the dinner table. Pasta or macaroni salads both looked more like pasta than any of the vegetables mixed within. Not until I started traveling abroad did I realize the unique ways people throughout the Mediterranean region enjoyed their grains… green. Consider the bold green color of tabbouleh salad, a traditional Mediterranean salad that has 4 cups parsley to the 1 cup of bulgur wheat… Is it a grain salad or a green salad?

The trick to balancing grains in your diet is to greenify them!  Add in the bold colors of vegetables to balance the true grain portion.  Where a traditional ½ cup of pasta would be a serving, if it is spruced up with 1 cup of vegetables you have successfully stretched the visual portion without increasing the grain.  Not only are you learning to balance the true portions of grains, but you are also adding in a hefty dose of nutrition with all of the vegetables!

As the heat of summer starts to sweep in and pool parties take hold, consider bringing this Tabbouleh Salad in place of the traditional pasta or macaroni salads.  The simple flavors of summer-fresh vegetable come together accented with the tang of lemons.  The grain dish has successfully been greenified! Enjoy!

Prep Time: 15 minutes     

Cook Time: 5 minutes       

Serves 6


½ cup bulgur
1 cup boiling water
⅓ cup olive oil
1-2 lemons, juiced
½  cup chopped green onions
4 cups chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
1 large tomato, small diced
1 English cucumber, small diced
½  teaspoon salt

Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a pot.  Add in bulgur, cover, and remove from heat.  Allow bulgur to absorb liquid for at least 15 minutes

Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice.  Chop all vegetables and herbs and add to olive oil and lemon juice. Season with mixture with salt.  Add in bulgur, stir and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. 

Tip: If you can’t find bulgur, substitute quinoa, whole wheat couscous, or brown rice!


© Rafetto & Peterson, Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies, 2011. Reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Add a Comment