Scouring the aisles of the supermarket for whole grains? I have two easy ways for you to find them! In honor of Whole Grain Sampling Day, I wanted to share a few secrets to make your cart a healthier one.
The goal: Make half your grains whole grains. Why?
- Eating whole grains gives your body extra nutrients like antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Adding whole grains to your day can significantly lower your risk of stroke, diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory diseases, stomach and colon cancer, high blood pressure.
- Eating whole grains also helps with weight control.
What is a whole grain? A whole grain is a complete grain, containing the bran, the germ and the endosperm. All three of these are the natural components of a grain while it’s growing in the field. If the bran and germ are removed (as they are done in processed and refined grains), you miss out on fiber, B vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, vitamin E and healthy fats.
How to find whole grains?
It’s easier than you might imagine. Two ways. First of all, look for the stamp – The Whole Grain Stamp. This ensures that the food has at least 8 grams of whole grain per serving (many times more than 8 grams). Aim for 48 grams per day.
Second, since the stamp is a voluntary measure, just take a look at the ingredient listing to make sure the first ingredient is a “whole” type of grain. Not cracked, not enriched, not unbleached, not stone-ground, not multi-grain but WHOLE.
Don’t use these as a measure to check for whole grain:
- Fiber. Just because food has a lot of fiber, it may not be coming from whole grain. Whole grains vary in their fiber content and fiber can be added in other ways. For example, whole wheat bread has more fiber than a serving of brown rice, but the brown rice is still a whole grain.
- Color. Color is not a good indicator either. Looking at these two slices of bread, it’s actually hard to tell which is whole grain and which is not. Color can be added from molasses or caramel coloring. Looking for the Whole Grain Stamp and checking the ingredient listing are your best bets.
Make half of your grains each day whole grains and aim for three servings of whole grain per day.
Fiesta Quinoa Salad
This recipe is my favorite and features quinoa, a seed classified as a whole grain. It’s great on its own as a side dish, or add it to your tacos for a flavor punch. Yum!
Fiesta Quinoa Salad
Inspired by The Whole Grains Council.
3 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 green onions, sliced
1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Juice from 3 limes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, corn, bell pepper, onions, black beans and cilantro.
- In a separate bowl, combine the lime juice, oil, cumin, black pepper, salt and cayenne pepper. Pour over quinoa mixture. Cover and chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Nutrition information: 116 calories, 3 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 82 mg sodium, 20 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 4 grams protein.
- Quinoa cooks up quickly in about 12 minutes. If you are planning to cook a cup of quinoa, just double that number and that’s how much water to cook it in. You can use quinoa in place of rice in any recipe.
- 1 cup of dry quinoa yields about 3 cups of cooked.
- You can find quinoa in other colors, like red or black.
- Quinoa is naturally gluten-free. Other gluten-free whole grains include corn, rice, wild rice, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, sorghum and teff. Oats are also gluten-free but may be contaminated by wheat gluten during growing or harvesting. Look for certified gluten-free oats.
Some information in this post is inspired by The Whole Grains Council and Oldways Nutrition Exchange.