Incorporating Whole Grains into Your Diet
Whole grains are for some reason, a difficult thing to wrap our head around, even for so-called experts. What is meant by the term whole grains? Whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, whole grain cereal, whole grain crackers? That's exactly what most whole grain advocates suggest, but let me offer a more healthy and holistic approach to whole grains. Instead of consuming grain products that are made from whole grain flour, we would see much more benefit from consuming whole grain berries on a regular basis.
Sadly, most American's don't even know what a whole grain berry is. We've so adulterated our food sources, that we have a difficult time understanding what real food is. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm still in favor of occasional wholegrain pancakes, waffles, muffins, crackers etc. that have been produced with flour, as long as they are produced with a healthy grain flour and properly prepared, but that's a post for another day. We don't have trouble incorporating things like pancakes, waffles, muffins and crackers into our diet. In fact, we do too much of these types of foods and it's usually in refined form. Today I want to focus on the whole grain berry, because that's something we rarely see in a Standard American Diet, and something that would reward us with rich benefits.
When I talk to people about incorporating more whole grains into their diet, they want recipes and I have a few, but truly I don't use a lot of recipes for whole grains. They are simply in, on, or under something. Here are some ideas:
Whole grain porridges: oat groats, amaranth porridge, creamy millet, extra brown rice, or really any grain can be re-heated and used for a breakfast porridge.
Einkorn Berries and other sweetened whole grain berries.
Soup/stew: Add a whole grain to your favorite soup recipes. Replace pasta in soup with a whole grain.
Grain bowls: Just a little google with give you lots of ideas. You don't need a recipe, but we like to include a legume and/or a doll-up of hummus, nuts and/or seeds, colorful fresh and roasted vegetables, a type of starch such as a potato or sweet potato. We also like a hard boiled or poached egg, or occasionally a small amount of chicken, beef or fish. We always top it with a dressing that contains a healthy fat: usually a yogurt dressing like this or this. Fresh salsa, like this or a quick version like this, guacamole and a doll-up of plain yogurt is great for a southwestern flavor.
Green salads: A little scoop of whole grain berries is always a welcome addition to a green salad. It makes it more satisfying, more nutritious and hearty.
Grain salads: Check out these recipes: Einkorn Berry Salad, Left-Over Grain Salad, Corn Bean and Grain Salad, Brown Rice Salad, Wild Rice Salad, Sorghum Salad.
Basically, you can use a variety of whole grains where you would normally use white rice, or pasta. Here's some ideas:
Under Tomato Chicken Curry, Thai Red Curry, under 5 Minute Thai Peanut Curry, under chicken with a healthy BBQ sauce, under a bolognese sauce, under chicken vegetables and a healthy teriyaki sauce, with jambalaya, with a stir fry, with bibimbap, with bulgogi, fried brown rice or another grain, pilaf, whole grain risotto etc.
I like to soak and cook a batch of
whole grains that is enough for 2 meals.
Here are some ways that I get double duty
out of one batch of cooked whole grains:
I do millet for dinner one night and store the remainder in the fridge. A day or so later, I throw the millet in the blender with a little warm water, and blend to the consistency of Cream of Wheat. We would then enjoy the millet as a sweet breakfast porridge with raw milk, maple syrup and fruit.
Another example is einkorn. I make up a batch of einkorn and enjoy an einkorn salad for one lunch and a day or so later, I could sweeten it and serve with raw yogurt and fruit: one of our favorites!
One more example is brown rice. I make up a batch of brown rice to serve with curry one night and a day or so later, I could use the brown rice in a tortilla soup.
A batch of quinoa could be used in a stir fry and then made into a tabbouleh style salad in a day or so for lunch.
Creamy oat groats are something my kids enjoy and while I don't usually use oatmeal for anything other than a breakfast porridge, it does re-heat really well for a second breakfast during the week, or if you're my daughter a midday snack. It can also be tossed in a smoothie for extra protein, nutrients and staying power.
Like oat groats, amaranth porridge re-heats for well for a second breakfast during the week. A day or so after eating it as a sweet breakfast porridge, you could enjoy a savory version with a poached egg. You could also use it in dishes in place of creamy polenta, or grits.
If I make a green salad, I usually add some whole cooked grains and some legumes; both of which I have in the fridge from my weekly 1 hour food prep. This gives my salads so much more interest. They are hearty, with more texture, and a lot more staying power. Even my teenagers look forward to salads like this.
We also enjoy grain bowls. This makes dinner, or lunch time a breeze. I just pull out food in the fridge, from my 1 hour food prep. and let everyone assemble their own bowl. There are endless variations and it's a meal that keeps you satisfied. It makes me hungry just thinking about it!
We love this chicken and wild rice soup and extra wild rice can be enjoyed a day or so later in this salad.
I hope this sparks some whole grain inspiration! For more information on consuming whole grains in a healthy way,
check out this post and this post.