A lot of people think of energy as a buzz — the kind you get from sports drinks, coffee, and refined carbs like sugar and white bread. But that kind of energy is short lived and often followed by the all-too-familiar crash and burn, leaving you feeling more tired than ever.

That's where whole grains come to the rescue. They provide energy all right, but because the carbohydrates are the complex kind, they generate a steady source of fuel that comes on gradually and stays with you throughout the day. Whole grains also contain valuable minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients, and fiber; many are rich in protein, too. And whole grains' tastes and textures thrill the palate in ways white flour cannot begin to duplicate. Add ingredients that keep the dish light and bring other nutrients into the mix (think flax oil, fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, and herbs), and you end up with a satisfying way to load up for action.

Lebanese-Style Bulgur Salad

Serves 8-10

Bulgur is precooked cracked wheat, requiring only the addition of water to reconstitute. This twist on traditional tabbouleh includes sun-dried tomatoes, flax oil, and spinach.

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Buckwheat and Calamari with Mango and Roasted Peppers

Serves 6

Buckwheat is very light when prepared this way, almost like a warm salad. Ingredient tips: Sriracha is a common, fiery red Thai-food condiment; Mirin is Japanese cooking wine. Look for both in the Asian food aisle. Prep tips: When peppery daikon sprouts are not available, substitute microgreens or very thinly slivered scallions. If calamari tentacles creep you out, just use the bodies.

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Wild Rice Pilaf with Water Chestnuts and Pistachios

Serves 8

Wild rice is not really rice at all but an entirely unrelated grass. Much of the “wild” rice in stores is actually cultivated, but if you look for it, you can find true wild rice gathered by Native Americans in Minnesota and Canada. It's nuttier, with a less acrid husk. Low in fat, wild rice is high in protein, the amino acid lysine, and fiber. It is also a good source of potassium, phosphorus, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. And it's delicious.

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