I'm wanting to stop having rice as my staple and try something else. I was thinking to try wheat however I never heard that people eat pure wheat daily like they eat pure rice daily like in the far east.

What I mean to say is wheat is often associated with bread, biscuits, cereals which have extra ingredients which I want to avoid and I don't think you want to eat those as part of the main meal anyway. I know it comes as pasta and sphaghetti but i'm not sure if that is the correct way to eat it as a staple? Have people traditionally cooked wheat like they would rice or has it always been used as pasta and sphaghetti but never as a staple like rice has in the far east?

I've just seen a bag of wheat grain at my supermarket so I'm thinking do I just get it and cook it like rice but since this is unheard of(at least to me) as a staple I'm wondering if there's something wrong with it?

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    I'm not sure I understand the question. You can cook wheat in hundreds of ways, and it remains a staple. Are you asking whether it's possible to cook wheat berries without processing the wheat to flour first? – rumtscho Sep 14 at 14:27
  • A link to the product, or a photo of the label, would be handy. Does the packet have cooking instructions? – Chris H Sep 14 at 15:21
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    Which “extra ingredients” do you want to avoid? This is rather crucial. – Konrad Rudolph Sep 14 at 17:15

Some forms of wheat are suitable for immediate cooking in a similar way to rice, such as Bulghur. This is traditional in much of the Middle East, and has been par-cooked prior to sale.

Cracked wheat is also available, but requires longer cooking. Note that terms overlap and even manufacturers can be vague. Whole wheat seeds do exist, sold for sprouting; it's not clear to me whether you could cook these directly but they'd take a long time if so.

Pasta is a traditional staple food in some parts of the world, and perfectly suitable for eating every day. Some dried pastas have nothing but wheat in them. Couscous, like many kinds of pasta, is made from pure wheat, but it's more absorbent and can be treated rather like rice and served with stew on top, or cold as a form of salad. It's an important part of the diet in some North African countries.

Bread is also an everyday (or even every meal) food in many places. These staple breads tend to be rather plain, at least when eaten as an accompaniment to other foods, and unless you're on a low-sodium diet it's a good source of complex carbohydrates.

Neither wheat nor rice can be treated as providing a full range of nutrients. this isn't the place to get into details but living on grains alone won't provide enough macro- or micro-nutrients.

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    @rumtscho you can buy wheat grains for sprouting. It's not clear whether these have (always) had the husks removed – Chris H Sep 14 at 15:00
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    Oh OK, I didn't think of that, since I have never seen somebody storing or shipping unthreshed grain, this is usually done by the producer right after harvest. I was actually misled to think you are saying that some cultivars are not suitable. If you meant that "grain with the husk on is not suitable", writing that in the answer would make it clearer. Actually, this makes me wonder if the grain can be sprouted with the husk on, and if yes, if anybody would want to eat it that way. – rumtscho Sep 14 at 15:12
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    @rumtscho we're pushing the limits of my knowledge there. I can't be bothered with sprouting, hence why I can't be sure whether the seeds are threshed, or grown specially. – Chris H Sep 14 at 15:19
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    In addition to breads and pastas, wheat gruel was a common staple in the middle ages particularly. Oat gruel may be better known, but gruel and porridges were often made of wheat or other grains as well. Today most of us would consider this breakfast or even unthinkable, but it was staple food for many years. – dlb Sep 14 at 15:57
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    Another possible rice-like wheat alternative -- couscous. (rice like in that it can be used as an item to sop up moisture from another dish) – Joe Sep 14 at 16:38

I make my own bread. Flour, water, yeast, salt. Nothing else. You could most certainly eat "your daily bread." Pasta is flour and eggs. You can also put dumplings into stew and chili - these are flour, milk or water, salt, and leavening like baking powder. So there is definitely no need for your wheat intake to include extra ingredients you would want to avoid.

If your old preference was for a meal of some sort of stir fry or saucy stew served on rice, you could most certainly make the very same thing and serve it on pasta (with or without eggs) or put it in a bowl and have a slice or two of bread with it and dip the bread in the sauce. Or you could add dumplings to a stew or soup, or add pasta to a soup (typically cooked separately).

You can also buy cereals - hot smooth ones like "cream of wheat" or cold ones eaten with milk - and have wheat as part of your breakfast every day. Or have jam or peanut butter on toast. Have a sandwich for lunch, or a hot cooked sandwich (like a grilled cheese, but with egg or meat) for dinner sometimes. Including bread in meals is very common in home cooking and eating. You just don't see it in cooking magazines or TV shows, or in restaurants.

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    +1 A (Chinese) friend of mine makes even more basic dumplings: nothing but (wheat) flour and water. Sounds odd, works well. – Konrad Rudolph Sep 14 at 17:16
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    Chapatis are just flour, water and a tiny bit of oil; even that could probably be omitted. – Chris H Sep 14 at 18:47

When you say "staple", you seem to mean a grain cooked whole and eaten plain, rather than a major component of the diet; certainly there are people who eat pasta or bread as staples.

There are types of wheat that can be cooked without being ground into flour first. One that will be relatively easy to find is farro. You cook this in water or broth; it's more akin to cooking pasta than rice in that you cook in a large quantity of water and then drain, rather than in a carefully measured quantity so that it's all absorbed. It's often used in salads, but there's no reason you couldn't eat it plain as a substitute for rice.

Pastas are not commonly eaten as a side dish in the way that rice may be; you more usually see it with a sauce as a main dish.

I'm not sure what "extra ingredients" you're seeing in bread that you want to avoid, but you may be looking at hyper-processed brands. You can easily find bread made with just flour, yeast, water, and salt.

  • In Southern Italy, pasta and water is just wheat flour, nothing else added in. In Northern China, noodles, wontons and dumpling weappers are the same; wheat flour and water, nothing else. This original question is totally unclear as to what the OP is seeking – Cynetta Sep 14 at 17:22
  • Not sure why this is a comment on my answer, but this is true. – A. Leistra Sep 14 at 17:44

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