How to Cook Low-Glycemic Grains, Beans, Lentils, and Veggies

Part of the Glycemic Index Cookbook For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Identifying low-glycemic foods to eat is the first step; the second step is discovering ways to cook them so that you enjoy making them part of your daily meals. Use the following tips on cooking low-glycemic grains, beans, lentils, and vegetables to help you get started:

  • Grains: Pearl barley, quinoa, and wild rice are all examples of lower-glycemic grains. They sound good enough, but how do you cook them? Essentially, all you have to do is cook them like you cook white rice; just remember to vary the cooking time according to the type of grain you're making. Simply add some water or broth, a few teaspoons of oil, and your grain to a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and simmer. To find out how much water or broth to add and how long to simmer, check out the instructions on the grain's package.

  • Beans: You can purchase beans either canned or dry. Canned beans are ready to go as they are. Just give them a quick rinse, and add them to your recipes or eat them right away on a salad. Dry beans take a little more work, but they offer more flavor than their canned counterparts.

  • To fix dry beans, you first need to soak the beans, either by putting them in a large pot of water overnight or by bringing a pot of water to boil, removing it from heat, adding your beans, and soaking them for 3 to 4 hours. Discard the soaking water when they're done, and then start adding your beans to recipes.

    If you're cooking dry beans by themselves, you can do so either in a stockpot or in a pressure cooker. To cook them in a stockpot, fill the pot with water and add the beans so they're covered by the water. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 1 to 1 ½ hours. To cook them in your pressure cooker, follow the manufacturer's directions. You generally fill the cooker only half full, and although the cooking time depends on how long you've soaked the beans, it should take only about 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Lentils: Although many people think cooking lentils is like cooking beans, it's actually more like cooking grains. Simply add 1 cup of dry lentils to 1 ½ cups boiling water or broth, boil for about 3 minutes, turn down the heat, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. You don't have to soak lentils prior to cooking like you do dry beans.

  • Vegetables: Before you cook with any vegetables, make sure to wash them in water. Then to maintain a lower glycemic index measurement and retain more nutrients, try cooking your vegetables al dente (or a little crisp). Cook your veggies by steaming, grilling, or roasting; just avoid frying so you don't add a lot of calories and fat.

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