Adapting Whole Grains to Your Cooking Style
If you live in the US and especially in the health-conscious California, it is almost impossible for you not to have heard that you should be eating whole grains.  In case you are still wondering, why you should, let us look at the statistics:  three recent scientific studies have shown that consuming at least one serving of whole grains a day lowers your risk for heart diseases by up to 36%; another study showed that people who consumed at least three servings a day of whole grains lower their risk for diabetes by up to 30% [1].  In case you did not know, these are the two diseases that South Asian population is most susceptible to.
So, you are now thinking about adding whole grains to your diet.  You walk down the supermarket isles and the words jump out at you “Good Source of Whole Grains” “Excellent Source of Whole Grains”, “Made with Whole Wheat”, “Harvest Wheat”, “Multigrain”, “Blend of Grains”.  How do you decide what to eat?  How do you make it part of your lifestyle?
The answer is: learn a few basics and experiment!
Relearn what our ancestors ate. Throughout the world, different cultures grew different grains based on the soil, climate, and altitude available to them.  As people migrated, to the New World they left the grains and their traditional eating habits behind.  Now, we have organizations like the Whole Grains Council [2] to bring back to us the lost knowledge of grains and how to cook them.
To adapt the particular grain to your style of cooking (whether South Asian Indian or Other), think of what the final texture of the dish should be like, and what are the best cooking methods for the grain; then figure out what the traditional method of cooking that grain was.  This is your starting point – now you begin your adventures with grains in your kitchen.  For South Asian Indians, there is always a treasure box of spices whole, powdered, and mixed ready-to-use.  Bring out that treasure box, and add a few to the grain as it is cooking. 
Now about those words that you saw in the grocery store isle.  Turn around that package and read the nutrition label, there is a high probability that the there is far more refined grain than whole grain in that package.  A whole grain with bran, endosperm and germ is a powerhouse of nutrients, most of which are lost during refining.  Once you have mastered a few tricks to tame the whole grains in your kitchen, you will not be picking up packages and turning them around to read the labels anymore.
[1] Whole Grains: The Inside Story Nutrition Action Healthletter . May 2006 pp 3-7