OCBC Silver Years

Tips on Cooking Wholegrains

Find out how to incorporate wholegrains into your's and your family's meals.

Everyday Solutions For Cooking Wholegrain Food

The truth is, there are simple ways to add whole grains to your diet and most wholegrains are simple to cook. Here are five quick and easy ways!

1. Go for Brown Rice

As there are different types of brown rice available, refer to the back of the food packaging for cooking instructions. Cooking brown rice is very similar to cooking white rice if you are using a rice cooker. If you want to cook whole grains such as brown rice more quickly, let them sit in water for one to two hours before cooking.

Since wholegrains absorb more water than refined grains, you can add more water when you cook brown rice. One cup of brown rice should be soaked in 2 cups water for half an hour and cooked for around 20 minutes. To cook a mixture of brown and white rice, soak brown rice first before adding in the white rice and cooking.

You will find that the cooking time is much shorter with a little pre-soaking. Adding slightly more water will also give you a softer texture.

If you have not tried brown rice before, you could start slow with a 20% of brown rice mixes with white rice.

2. Try Wholegrain Pasta

Ever tried to look for wholegrain spaghetti in our supermarkets but cannot find them? The next time you are in the supermarket, try looking for wholemeal spaghetti. Wholemeal spaghetti is a wholegrain product. Wholemeal products are made from wholegrain flour. Like wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta is made from wheat with the husk intact. Wholemeal pasta also comes in a variety of shapes, most commonly spaghetti and lasagne. It can take a little longer to cook than white pasta. Do check the package for cooking instructions.

Add the pasta only after the water is boiling with a few drops of oil to prevent the pasta from sticking. Wholemeal pastas will take 12 to 25 minutes to cook depending on their size. Remember that you still want your wholemeal pastas to be al dente, firm but not too mushy or hard on the inside.

3. Don't Forget Brown Rice Vermicelli

Look out for brown rice vermicelli too! They may take longer to cook than regular beehoon, so let them soak for ten seconds in hot water while they soften and rinse in cold water for 3 minutes to prevent it from breaking easily. If you think brown rice vermicelli breaks more easily than regular ones, how about creating a brown rice vermicelli soup. Without having to toss the noodles around in a wok or pan, you won't have to worry about the vermicelli breaking.

4. Use Wholemeal Flour in Recipes that Call for Plain Flour

This is one of the easiest ways to boost your intake of wholegrains. It usually works well to substitute a portion of plain flour with wholemeal flour. In other words, if the recipe calls for 2 cups plain flour, you can use 1 cup of wholemeal flour and 1 cup of plain white flour. By doing this, you may need to add an extra pinch of baking powder.

5. Try Wholegrains as a Coating

You can also use cooking oats or crushed wholegrain cereal as breading for fish and chicken. Remember to use cooking oats instead of instant oats so that your coating will not burn before your fish or chicken is cooked. You can also semi-cook your fish or chicken before you coat them with your wholegrain crumbs. This can shorten the cooking time in the oven so your coatings won't burn before the insides are cooked.

What if I don't cook? How can I increase my wholegrain intake?

Many foods made from wholegrains come ready-to-eat. These include wholemeal bread, wholegrain breakfast cereals and wholegrain biscuits. Try out these simple tips:

  1. Start your day with oatmeal topped with fruits, or wholegrain cereals in low fat milk/yoghurt.
  2. Make a sandwich using wholemeal bread or rolls.
  3. Enjoy a few pieces of wholegrain biscuits or even wholegrain cereals as a snack.

So Remember...

  1. It is not difficult to include wholegrains in your cooking. You may have to pre-soak the grains a little longer or add more water, especially if you are cooking brown rice.
  2. Cook wholegrains using healthier preparation methods too, such as with less oil and salt
  3. It is possible to have wholegrains even if you don't cook. Use ready-to-eat wholegrain products such as wholegrain cereals and wholemeal bread.

Are you new to cooking whole grains? Here is an easy recipe that you can follow:

Chicken Soup with Brown Rice Vermicelli (serves 4 to 6)


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 2 cups sliced mushroom
  • 1 small roasted chicken (rotisserie chicken), skinless and shredded
  • 2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of boiled and drained brown rice vermicelli (brown rice beehoon)
  • 6 cups of low sodium chicken broth (canned or made from packet mix)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoon of chopped Chinese parsley


  1. Add olive oil to a non-stick pan over medium to high heat.
  2. Add onions, celery and mushroom. Saute for about 3 minutes until they are lightly brown.
  3. Stir in garlic, shredded chicken and black pepper. Toss to blend well.
  4. Add the brown rice vermicelli (beehoon), the amount of chicken broth (1 cup) and parsley into the mixture. Bring to a gentle boil.
  5. Add the remaining chicken broth (1 cup), water and reduce heat.
  6. Cover pot and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Note: Unlike stir frying, cooking brown rice vermicelli (beehoon) in soup can prevent the fragile and brittle vermicelli from breaking too much. Let them simmer in the soup to cook.

Source: Health Promotion Board © HealthHub. Reproduced with permission. View original source.

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