Home Page.NutriBase Glossary: Grains & Pasta
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Arborio Rice - An Italian rice used to make "risottos," a specialty of hot stock, rice, and butter-sautéed chopped onions.

Barley - A hardy grain that dates back to the Stone Age. Used in cereals, breads, and soups. Hulled barley has the outer husk removed and is the most nutritious form of barley.

Basmati Rice - This exotic rice variety from East India, is long-grained and perfumy.

Bran - The outer layer of grains such as wheat or oats. This outer layer is normally removed during the milling process. Bran is a good source of carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, and fiber.

Brown Rice - This is the entire rice grain minus only the inedible husk. The nutritious, high-fiber bran coating gives it its distinctive light tan color and nut-like flavor. The presence of the bran means a shorter shelf life (about 6 months).

Buckwheat Groats - Also known as "Kasha." Buckwheat groats are the hulled, crushed kernels of buckwheat. Normally cooked like rice and is available in coarse, medium, and fine grains.

Buckwheat - Normally thought of as a cereal, buckwheat is actually an herb. The triangular seeds are use to make buckwheat flour which is used in pancakes and other baked goods.

Bulghur - A nutritious staple in the Middle East, bulghur consists of wheat kernels that have been steamed, dried, and crushed. It has a tender, chewy texture and can be made into a pilaf. It is sometimes confused with "cracked wheat."

Cellophane Noodle - A form of translucent Chinese noodle. These are not true noodles, but are made from the starch of mung beans. Also called "bean threads."

Converted Rice - Rice that has had the unhulled grain soaked, pressure steamed, and dried prior to milling. This infuses some of the bran's nutrients into the kernel and gelatinizes the starch in the grain to produce a "non-sticky" cooked rice.

Corn Grits - Coarsely ground corn that is available in coarse, medium, and fine grains. Grits can be cooked in milk or in water, normally by boiling. Usually served as a cereal or as a hot side dish. Sometimes called "Groats."

Corn Flour - Finely ground cornmeal. It is available in white or yellow varieties (from white and yellow corn). Corn flour is milled from the entire kernel; cornstarch is milled from the endosperm portion of the kernel.

Corn - This cereal grain was brought from the American Indians to Europe by the early colonists. As soon as it is picked, the corn's sugar begins to convert into starch. For this reason, the corn should be eaten very soon after it is picked.

Cornbread - An American quick bread that uses cornmeal in place of all or most of the flour. Often flavored with cheese, scallions, molasses, bacon, jalapeño, and other ingredients.

Cornmeal - Coarsely ground corn. Nowadays, the corn is ground after removing the hull and germ. Although this lowers its vitamin A content, this formula keeps better because of its lower fat content.

Cornstarch - Cornstarch is produced by milling the endosperm portion of the corn kernel. Used as a thickener in sauces, gravies, and puddings.

Couscous - Granular semolina. ("Semolina" is a coarsely ground wheat flour.) It may be cooked and served with milk as a porridge. Also served with a dressing as a salad or sweetened and used in desserts.

Crouton - A small piece of bread--often cubed--that has been either sautéed or baked. Used in soups, salads, and other dishes. Croutons are available plain or seasoned with herbs and/or cheeses.

Crumpet - Small yeast-raised breads that are about the size of English Muffins. They are "baked" on the stovetop in special metal "crumpet rings."

Danish Pastry - This butter-rich pastry begins as yeast dough that is rolled out, buttered, folded, then rolled out several more times. Danish is often filled with fruit, cream cheese, and/or nuts.

Farina - A bland-tasting flour or meal made for cereal grains that can be cooked to create a hot breakfast cereal. Farina is cream colored, rich in protein, and easy to digest.

Fettuccini - Pasta noodles cut into flat narrow strips.

Fusilli - A spiral-shaped spaghetti noodle that ranges from about 1.5 inches to a foot long.

Glutinous Rice - Also called "pearl rice," this rice is actually gluten-free. It is the preferred variety in the Orient because it is sticky and therefore easily handled with chop sticks.

Granola - A food composed of grains (mostly oats), nuts and dried fruits.

Grits - "Grits" refers to any coarsely ground grain such as corn, oats, or rice. Today, most "grits" are hominy grits. Grits are available in coarse, medium, and fine grinds.

Irish Soda Bread - A classic Irish quickbread that uses baking soda as its leavener. This bread is often made with buttermilk and is sprinkled with currants and caraway seeds.

Kamut - A variety of high-protein wheat that hasn't yet been hybridized. Kamut kernels are two-to-three times larger than most wheat and provides a higher nutritional value.

Kasha - Also known as "buckwheat groats." Kasha is the hulled, crushed kernels of buckwheat. Normally cooked like rice and is available in coarse, medium, and fine grains.

Knish - A Jewish potato pancake that is deep-fried or baked. Sometimes meat (primarily beef) or other ingredients are encased in its outer dough.

Lahvosh - A round, flat, crispbread that ranges from about 6 to 14 inches in diameter. Also known as "Armenian Cracker Bread."

Lasagna - A wide, flat pasta noodle with a ruffled or plain edge. Also a dish prepared using the lasagna noodle with various cheeses, and a tomato sauce. A meat is sometimes included. The plural of "lasagna" is "lasagne."

Linguine - Long, narrow, flat pasta noodles that are sometimes called "flat spaghetti." "Linguine" is the Italian word for "little tongues."

Macaroni - A noodle made from semolina and water. Most are tube-shaped, but twists and ribbons are available too. Popular tube shapes are: elbow (short, curved), mostaccioli (large, diagonally cut), rigatoni (short, grooved), ziti (long, thin).

Malt - A powder made by germinating, drying, and grinding grains. Enzymes are added during the process to partially convert the starch to sugar. This creates the sweet-tasting malt used in brewing, distilling, yeast-making, and vinegar.

Manicotti - A tube-shaped pasta noodle approximately 4 inches long by 1 inch in diameter. Normally stuffed with a cheese or meat mixture, covered with a sauce, then baked before serving.

Matzo - A thin, crisp, unleavened bread that is traditionally eaten during the Jewish Passover. Tradition dictates that matzos be made only with water and flour, but moderns include certain flavors, such as onion.

Melba Toast - This accompaniment to soups and salads is a very thin, dry toast. Created by Auguste Escoffier for opera singer Dame Nellie Melba.

Millet - A bland flavored cereal grass used chiefly for forage in the U.S., but as a staple for one-third of the world's population. Millet can be boiled and used to make a hot cereal pilaf or ground and used as flour.

Mochi - A sweet, short-grained, Glutinous rice with a very high starch content that is used to make rice cakes.

Mostaccioli - A large, 2-inch macaroni tube cut on the diagonal. This noodle is available with both a ridged or a plain surface.

Noodle - A pasta made of flour, water, and egg yolks. (Macaroni and spaghetti don't use egg yolks.) Noodles come in a wide variety of shapes and are used all around the world.

Oat - A very nutritious cereal grass. Oats that have been cleaned, toasted, and hulled become "oat groats" which can be cooked and served. Steaming and flattening the grain in rollers produces "rolled oats." The hull is called the "bran."

Oat Bran - The outer casing of the oat grain. This part of the grain is very high in soluble fiber, which is believed to be effective in helping to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.

Pasta - A staple made from flour, salt, water and often eggs. Countless varieties are served covered with sauces, cheese, butter, olive oils, soups, or used to enclose stuffings.

Penne - A large, straight, tube-shaped macaroni noodle that is cut on the diagonal.

Phyllo - This word is Greek for "leaf." It refers to the tissue-thin layers of pastry dough used in Greek and Near Eastern preparations such as Baklava and Spanakopita.

Polenta - A staple from northern Italy, where it is used like a bread. Polenta is a cornmeal mush that can be served hot or cooled until firm then cut into squares that are fried. "Parmesan" or "gorgonzola" cheese is sometimes added for flavor.

Popcorn - A variety of corn with small, hard kernels and a large endosperm. When heated, these kernels explode from internal pressure to produce an inside-out white popped corn. Can be eaten as a breakfast food or flavored and served as a snack.

Quinoa - This "supergrain of the future" contains more protein than any other grain. It is a "complete protein" (it contains all 8 essential amino acids) and is very high in unsaturate fat. Can be prepared in any manner suitable for rice.

Rice Flour - Regular rice flour is a fine, powdery flour made from regular white rice. "Glutinous rice flour" or "sweet rice flour" is made from high-starch, short-grain rice.

Rigatoni - A large ribbed (grooved), tubular pasta that is cut into segments approximately 2 to 3 inches in length.

Rotini - Short spirals of spaghetti noodles.

Rye - A hardy annual cereal grass related to wheat. Rye flour is often mixed with wheat flour to make rye breads. The seeds are used to make flour, malt liquors, whisky, and Holland gin. "Pumpernickel" is a heavy, dark bread made of rye flour.

Safflower Seed Meal - A meal made from the seed of the safflower plant. The seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats. Also called "Mexican saffron" because the flower's stigmas can produce a lower quality substitute for the expensive "saffron."

Semolina - The purified middlings (medium-sized particles) of wheat. The best semolina, the type used to make macaroni, spaghetti, and other pastas, comes from the milling of Durum wheat, a very hard variety of wheat.

Soba - A Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour. The buckwheat gives soba a dark brownish gray color.

Sorghum - A genus of cereal grasses with a large number of species, cultivated throughout the world for food, forage, and syrup. It is the world's third largest food grain.

Spaghetti - Like its cousin "macaroni," spaghetti is made from semolina and water. Sometimes eggs are added. The name comes from the italian word for "strings."

Spaghettini - A thin form of the spaghetti pasta. It is not quite as thin as vermicelli, however. Other spaghettis include "fettuccine" and "linguine," which are flat rather than round.

Strudel - This German word for "whirlpool" refers to a pastry made of layers of thin dough spread with a filling, then rolled up and baked. The extremely thin pastry resembles Phyllo.

Triticale Flour - The flour made from triticale. Because this flour is low in gluten, bread made from triticale flour is very heavy. For this reason, it is usually combined half-and-half with wheat flour.

Triticale - A nutritious hybrid of wheat and rye which contains more protein and less gluten than wheat. Normally found in health food stores, it is available as whole berries, flakes, and flour. Used in cereals, casseroles, and pilafs.

Udon - This is the Japanese word for "noodle."

Vermicelli - Italian for "little worms." Vermicelli is a very thin spaghetti-shaped pasta.

Waffle - Pancake batter cooked in a special hinged cooking utensil called a "waffle iron" which cooks both sides at once and gives waffles their honeycombed syrup-catching surface. Belgian waffles are often heaped with fruits and whipped cream.

Wheat Flour - A flour produced by milling the endosperm portion of the wheat kernel. "Whole wheat flour," which is more nutritious, is made by milling the entire kernel, including the outer covering, or "bran."

Wheat Cake - A pancake made of wheat flour.

Wheat Bran - The rough outer covering of the wheat kernel. Wheat bran is low in nutritional value but high in fiber. Wheat bran is sold separately and is used to add flavor and fiber to baked goods.

Wheat - There are over 30,000 varieties of this ubiquitous grain. Cultivated for over 6,000 years, wheat is second only to rice as a grain staple. Wheat contains more gluten than other cereals, making it an excellent choice for breadmaking.

Wheat Pilaf - A pilaf made from either the wheat berries (whole unprocessed kernels) or cracked wheat (the whole berries broken into coarse, medium, and fine parts).

Wheat, Parboiled - A nutritious staple in the Middle East, made of wheat kernels that have been steamed, dried, and crushed. It has a tender, chewy texture and can be made into a pilaf. Also called "bulghur."

Wheat Gluten - The protein remaining after wheat flour has been washed to remove starch. Gluten helps hold in the gas bubbles produced by leavening agents. This is why bread flours contain high levels of gluten and cake flours contain low levels.

Wheat Germ - The tiny nucleus of the endosperm (the inner part of the wheat kernel without the outer bran). Wheat germ has a nutty flavor and is a concentrated source of oil, vitamins, minerals and protein. Used to add nutrients to various foods.

White Rice - Rice that has had the husk, bran, and germ removed. White rice is sometimes called "polished rice."

Ziti - Macaroni that has been shaped into long, thin tubes.

Zwieback - "Zwieback" is the German word for "twice baked." Refers to bread that has been baked, then sliced and returned to the oven and cooked until very crisp and dry. Zwieback is popular for its easy digestibility.

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