You have heard a lot about eating whole grains, and as you peruse the supermarket, you’ll see lots of packaging touting the term “whole grain” to entice you to purchase it. It is a good idea to add whole grains to your diet - after all, half of your total intake of foods from the grain group should be whole grain – but be sure the choices you make are wholesome ones.
What are Whole Grains?
Whole grains include grains like wheat, corn, rice, quinoa, rye, barley, and oats. When these foods are eaten in their “whole” form, they provide more nutrients and more fiber. Whole grains are the entire seed, or kernel, of a plant. It includes three parts: the bran, germ and endosperm. The bran is the layered outer skin of the seed. It contains B vitamins and fiber. The germ is the embryo which will sprout a new plant. It contains B vitamins, some protein, and healthy fats. The endosperm is the germ’s food supply, providing essential nutrients and water so the plant can grow.
A “whole grain” contains all three parts of the kernel, and therefore more vitamins, fiber and protein than a refined grain. There are lots of varieties of whole grains. Some are eaten whole, cracked or ground.
There are lots of easy ways to add whole grains to every meal. Here are some of my favorites:
• Enjoy a bowl of whole grain cereal with 1% or nonfat milk. I love Quaker® Oat Squares and Cheerios®.
• For something hot, filling, and comforting, have oatmeal for breakfast. Two minutes in the microwave and it’s ready. Sweeten it with sliced bananas or fresh berries. Add a few chopped walnuts or pecans for added protein and healthy fat.
• To satisfy your carb-craving, try a Thomas’® Whole Wheat Mini Bagel. Spread them with light cream cheese or peanut butter.
• This is my kind of breakfast protein: Kashi® Go Lean. It has eight grams of fiber, 17 grams of whole grain and 9 grams of protein in one bowl. Add a cup of nonfat milk and you’re up to 17 grams of protein.
• Swap your white bread for whole wheat bread when you order a sandwich
• Go ahead and try a “whole wheat white” bread. It’s made from white wheat (unlike traditional ‘red’ wheat that is darker in color). It’s milder in flavor but still provides the whole kernel.
• For a delicious sandwich try Flat-out® Whole grain flatbread with Flax. This makes a delicious peanut butter and banana sandwich.
• Enjoy a homemade oatmeal raisin cookie
• If you love crunch, you’ll love these: Dr. Kracker® crackers and flatbreads are available in a variety of flavors.
• Try something new and tasty: Brown rice (or go half and half), bulgar, barley, whole-wheat couscous or quinoa. Check out our grain recipes in the Glycemic Index Cookbook For Dummies®
• If you’ve tried some and didn’t like them, keep experimenting with other brands: Luigi Vitelli® Whole Wheat Pasta. I like this pasta, whereas some whole wheat pastas are too tought and chewy for my taste.
Rust is a licensed, registered dietitian and nutrition coach who has a private practice in Meadville. She is a licensed provider for Real Living Nutrition Services®, nutrition communications consultant, and freelance writer. She’s co-author of Restaurant Calorie Counter For Dummies, 2nd Edition (May 2011), Calorie Counter Journal For Dummies® (Nov 2010), and The Glycemic Index Cookbook For Dummies® (Dec 2010). To learn more, visit: www.rustnutrition.com
©Rosanne Rust 2011
Post this list of "baby-steps" from the Whole Grains Council on your fridge, and try as many as possible this month:
• I'll buy three different loaves of whole-grain bread and taste all of them to see which one we like best.
• I'll serve bulgur or brown rice instead of potatoes with dinner one night this month.
• I'll try a new breakfast cereal with at least 16 grams of whole grain per serving.
• I'll buy some whole-wheat pasta and try it.
• I'll make my favorite whole grain recipe for a friend.
• On the weekend, I’ll try cooking a pot of steel-cut oatmeal.
• I’ll make pizza for the kids with whole wheat pita as the crust.
• I’ll make our favorite cookies with whole wheat flour next time instead of white.
• I’ll serve hamburgers with whole wheat buns this week.
Check out the Whole Grains Council website for more information at www.wholegrainscouncil.org.