What's in Season? Wheat Berries

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 This article is featured in the December '07 Feeding Your Family Newsletter
"Beautiful" Roasted Vegetables  | What's in Season? Wheat Berries | Food Fights | Things We Love! The Ruler in the Kitchen |  Health Check: Artificially Colored Foods

On first glance wheat berries, also known as whole-grain wheat, seem like a cartoon of a health food: a hard little kernel of wheat. With the germ and bran and endosperm intact, they take a full hour to cook, and are not exactly selling themselves with their ever-so-humble appearance. But cook them up and you may find yourself with a new favorite staple; wheat berries are nutty, earthy, chewy and completely irresistible.

As an unprocessed whole grain, they are also wildly good for you. Just 1/4 cup of cooked berries contains 15 percent of your recommended daily fiber intake. Whole grains have been linked to numerous health benefits, including less body fat and reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and even gum disease among women who regularly consume them, as well as less asthma in children.

They are also endlessly versatile, easily replacing the bulgur in a tabouli salad, the barley in a beef soup, or the couscous in a sublime lunch of roasted vegetables and feta cheese. Comforting and delicious even with just a bit of hot chicken broth and grated Parmesan, wheat berries are the perfect antidote to the oncoming chill of winter.

To cook them: Heat a cup of wheat berries in two cups of hot water, bring to a low boil and simmer, uncovered, for one hour.

To find them: Check the health food section of your local grocery store, or go to for a store locator or to order online.

- Larissa Phillips