Whole grains not only taste delicious but they also help to protect our health. A reduced risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease are two of the well documented health benefits that come from eating whole grains.
In the latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (8th edition: 2015-2020), we are told to “eat whole grains and to limit the intake of refined grains”. Specifically, we are instructed to “consume at least half of total grains as whole grains”.
One thing is certain… while there are a host of health benefits to be had from eating a side of quinoa or a breakfast of whole oats, don’t expect these same benefits from sugary “whole grain” fakes. In an effort to cash in on the whole grain message, food companies have sprinkled “whole grains” into all sorts of junk foods including sugary breakfast cereals, toaster pastries and even cookies and pretzels. Don’t be fooled! Eating more whole grains does NOT mean loading up on heavily processed items which list “whole grain” on the package as a selling point.
How to choose a high quality whole grain bread
Trying to select the best loaf for your family can be CONFUSING! Many breads are made with refined flour which has been stripped of the bran, germ and healthy oils that are found in the whole grain.
Terms like “multigrain” OR “wheat” OR “made with whole grain” are misleading. Breads labeled with these terms may contain a bit of “whole wheat” or “whole grain”, but are often made up mostly of refined flour. Instead, seek out breads which are labeled as “100% whole wheat” OR “100% whole grain”.
Want to try something new? Here is a recipe for making “tabbouleh”, which is a delicious Mediterranean salad featuring an ancient grain called bulgur. Bulgur (also sometimes called “cracked wheat”) is packed with fiber and has a wonderful nutty flavor!
1 cup bulgur (uncooked)
2 medium bunches of fresh parsley (finely chopped, or snipped with kitchen scissors)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped into small pieces (do NOT discard the juice!)
4 large green onions, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a medium sauce pan, bring 3 cups water, the bulgur and ½ tsp. salt to a boil, over medium high heat (stirring often).
Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until tender but NOT over-cooked (~10 to 12 minutes).
Drain well and place into a medium sized bowl. Fluff with fork and let it cool completely.
Stir in tomatoes with juice, parsley and green onions.
Add lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Mix well and allow to chill for at least one hour before serving.
Recipe adapted from https://www.marthastewart.com/356003/tabbouleh
Jenny Favret, MS, RD, LDN
Duke Children's Healthy Lifestyles
Photo by Unsplash.com