August 6, 2010

Bulgur Wheat is Hard to Beat.

Bulgar is man's oldest recorded use of wheat. Bulgur is made by soaking and cooking the whole wheat kernel, drying it and then removing part of the bran and cracking the remaining kernel into small pieces. I'd never cooked with it before, and wanted to try it, so I did so yesterday evening (after a trip to Whole Foods...that is a separate story that I'll share shortly). As I learned from my research, Bulgur Wheat has been a staple of the traditional Mediterranean Diet for thousands of years (and is just now becoming increasingly popular in modern health food and vegetarian diets because it's loaded with "B" vitamins, iron, phosphorous and manganese). In approximately 2,800 B.C., the Chinese emperor declared Bulgur one of five sacred crops along with rice, millet, barley and soybeans. Biblical references indicate it was prepared by ancient Babylonians, Hittites and Hebrew (yay!) populations some 4,000 years ago, and Arab, Israeli, Egyptian, and Roman civilizations record eating dried cooked wheat as early as 1,000 B.C.

Speaking of ancient. That's a perfect transition into my unsuccessful trip to Whole Foods to purchase the damn Bulgur, since I think I rode on the most ancient and aged CTA bus I've ever been on--I practically got motion sickness.

(By the way, I have no reason in particular why I'm choosing to capitalize Bulgar).

The Story: I had an hour until the painter was going to come to my apartment (my friend Kim's Brother in Law) to price out the cost of re-doing the trashy taste from the strange people who lived there before (another story at another time that I'll share). I thought I'd experiment and take the 70 bus down Division to Halstead and walk from there to Whole Foods (first mistake, Doug was right, it was a 20 minute walk). After getting yelled at on the bus by a homeless man to move from the aisle (I have no idea, these things only happen to me I think), I finally arrived at Whole Foods after what felt like 45 minutes of walking. On the way home, I tried to decide what would make more sense: 1. Be late for the painter (rely on CTA), or 2. Take a cab. Option two was the route I took. Between warning the painter I was late (so was he from traffic, PHEW!), opening all the food in the back of the cab, and getting my necklace caught on the seatbelt buckle on the way out, I finally made it home (to be greeted by Doug negotiating with Direct TV and Comcast, horray!).

The Quick & Healthy Bulgur Wheat Dish(s): I made two. I usually split up the bulk items like Bulgar or Barley to make one savory dish and one sweet dish. I put them in containers for snacks, lunches, and breakfasts.

I made up this recipe as I went because I saw a similar pasta recipe that looked tasty:
About 3 cups Bulgar Wheat
5 small radishes (cut into thin "sticks")
2 heads of broccoli (cut into little broccolettes--my made up word for small pieces)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup pine nuts
About 1/2 cup (or more) Feta Cheese
Salt & Pepper (you make me wanna shoop! sorry i had to go there)

1. Boil water. Add salt. Add Bulgar Wheat. Cook for about 15+ minutes depending on how chewy you like your pastas and grains.
2. While the Bulgar is cooking, saute the pine nuts with olive oil. Make them as brown as you'd like. I enjoy them pretty burnt. Do the same with the broccoli--if I make a similar dish again, I'll probably saute both at the same time.
3. Add radishes, drained (and still warm) Bulgar, nuts, broccoli, cheese, splash of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to a bowl and stir. It's better cold the next day (in my opinion, that's the photo above of the container I brought for lunch).

This is inspired from a menu item from
Protein Bar (click on the name and you'll be able to see their Menu. I highly recommend this quick lunch spot).
About 3 cups Bulgar Wheat

1-2 scoops (based on preference) of protein powder. I use Aria (and no I don't look like the women jogging down the beach on their website home page from using it unfortunately).
Any Fruit (I like blueberries or cherries)

1. Boil water. Add salt. Add Bulgar Wheat. Cook for about 15+ minutes depending on how chewy you like your pastas and grains.
2. After Bulgar is cooked, drain it, and while it's warm, add in about 1/4 cup of Almond Milk. Stir.
3. Add in about 1 tsp of cinnamon.
4. If you are feeling lethargic, don't shy away, add in some Splenda packets (2 does the trick).
5. Stir in blueberries, or any fruit of your choice.

It's like a more special version of oatmeal with more protein! Hip hip horray!

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