Updated: Jan 24
So before I begin my grain journey I should tell you that we decided to make it an every two week journey on my recommendation because once a week was a little too much for my schedule. So you’ll see a post every two weeks concerning the grain challenge. Below is the recipe that we used rye berries in. We thoroughly enjoyed the recipe and hope you will too.
I knew very little about rye berries and my knowledge for different grains were limited simply because I tend to stick to my usual grains. This challenge is exposing me to different foods that I would not ordinarily buy. We’re creatures of habit right? Which usually means that we pretty much like to do what we’re familiar with. This challenge is definitely taking me outside of my food comfort zone which is a good thing. Variety is the spice of life a wise person once told me! If you want more information on the health benefits of grains, you'll want to read my blog breakfast repurposed.
A few tips before I give you the recipe:
1. As I said in my prior blog, I recommend that you buy your grain from the bulk aisle that way you only buy what your recipe calls for in case it’s something that you feel you might not want long term, but if it’s the real deal, you should consider developing a taste for it and keep it in your grain rotation.
2. Make sure you’re buying the real deal. What I mean by that is, not all grains are equal. If the package label says either 100% whole grain or whole grain then it’s probably just that. 100% whole grain. It’s most likely the real deal. If it just says wheat, multigrain, bran or wheat germ, then you may not be getting the real deal. You have to be careful. The benefit of 100% whole grain or whole grain is in the amount of fiber and other nutrients that are still intact as the nutrients, including fiber has health benefits.
3. Pearled – means that much of the outer husk and bran layers have been removed which makes it a refined grain and you want to avoid refined products. However, even if it’s pearled, it probably has more fiber in it than other refined grains as the fiber is throughout the kernel, and not just in the husk that’s been removed. Pearl cooks faster as it’s more refined.
4. Hulled or Dehulled - means that the indigestible outer husk has been carefully removed, however its bran layer is still intact making it a whole grain which is the real deal.
5. Hulless – Means that the outer indigestible layer is loosely on the grain and falls off doing harvest. But don’t worry, it’s the real deal. All of the bran and germ is still intact.
6. In summary, it just depends on how much the grain has been manipulated that makes it more nutritious or not. I hope this information brings more clarity than confusion.
So here is the recipe on rye berries that I promised to send you:
Italian-Style Stuffed Eggplant
1. Place 1/3 cup rye berries in a pot of boiling water. Remove from the heat and let sit in the pot of water overnight. Next day, drain it and place it in another pot of boiling water and boil until tender. I did not have to boil mine the next day as it was already nice and tender so I skipped the next day step. If you didn’t want to do a two step process, you can just boil the water, place the rye in the boiling water and boil for about 55 min. to an hour until tender.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the eggplant to detach it from the skin. Leave a few inches in place about 1/3 inch, and then cut the eggplant in a crisscross fashion for easy removal. You want to cut down pretty deep but you don’t won’t to pierce the bottom of the eggplant. If you accidentally pierce the bottom of the eggplant, oh well. It happens. You can still carry on. Use a spoon to remove the flesh of the eggplant from the skin. We initially used 3 small eggplants which was a total of six halves, but the next day I used two larger ones as I had some "stuffing" left over.
3. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep skillet and gently cook 1 onion, chopped until it begins to soften. Roughly chop the eggplant flesh and place it in the skillet with the onions. Stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 min. until the eggplant looks half cooked. Then add the 2 large cloves of chopped garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. I did add in some ground lamb which I cooked separate because we wanted to have a meat with this as well and we did reduce the amount of rye berries that we added because of this. If you want to keep this recipe strictly meatless, then just skip adding the meat of course.
4. Brush each eggplant shell with a bit of olive oil. Should be about a tablespoon used for the entire 6 halves of small eggplants. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 min. Once baked, remove from the oven and let them cool.
5. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Add 2 tsp. of tomato paste to the skillet with the eggplant, onions, and garlic. Stir. Add 5-6 fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add about 5 tbsp. of water before covering and simmering for 10 min. Stir in the drain rye berries, and 12 large leaves of basil, chopped. Taste and adjust seasons to taste.
6. Spoon the mixture into the eggplant shells, top with grated parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheeses. A total of 3 tbsp. of parmesan cheese and one cup of shredded mozzarella cheese for the entire recipe. I think goat cheese would work for this recipe as well. Feel free to skip the cheeses if you don't eat dairy. Bake in the oven for 15 min. Once removed from the oven, you can sprinkle a bit of chopped basil on each and serve. Hope you enjoy this as much as my daughter, friend, and I did.
We got creative with the eggplant stuffing and stuffed some poblano peppers as well which my friend put Mexican style cheese on them. The peppers have a mild kick to them which made the dish even more savory. As I've said so many times before, be creative on your health and wellness journey. Healthy eating does not need to be bland or boring. I almost forgot, we did add some cooked black beans and corn to the stuffing for the poblano peppers to give them more of a Mexican flair. Delicious and savory those stuffed peppers!
Tip: I think I should mention that whole grains are good carbs, nevertheless they are carbs that you need to factor into your dietary plans especially if you have health concerns where you need to count your carbs. Also, if you're on a gluten free diet, you should check which grains are gluten free and which are not. Also be aware that some gluten free grains might be cross contaminated with grains with gluten. Just a word to the wise.
You should receive an email notification when I post a new grain. Let me know if you tried these recipes and how they turned out. I would love to hear your story so I can share it to inspire others!
Here’s to a positive New Year.
Helping you to discard your past to embrace your future,
Health and Wellness Educator, Author and Speaker
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