Whole grains are an important component of a natural, healthy food plan that will help you to gain health. Whole grains are grains that have not had their germ and bran removed through heavy processing called milling. These complete grains are excellent sources of fiber, an essential part of food that your body does not digest. Eating foods that are high in fiber tones your digestive system and lowers your cholesterol levels. Additionally, a high fiber diet is more filling. The fiber in food stays with you longer and helps you to feel satisfied between meals. When you eat a good variety of whole grains, you will be sure to get more nutrients than you would eating the same foods prepared with refined grains. You will also enjoy a food plan that is rich and interesting.
Why do processed grains exist? These days, mainly for convenience. They have been stripped of everything that makes them take a while to cook, but please understand that the added boost of nutrition you get with whole grain products is well worth a little more cooking time. The processing that makes refined grains quick cooking also strips them of their natural goodness.
Because whole grains contain every part of the grain, they give you all of the nutrition that grain can give. This is in sharp contrast to heavily processed, refined grains like white rice and white flour. These have had the bran and the germ removed. Then they are “enriched” with vitamins and minerals. Even with nutrients added, processed, refined grains do not give you the amount of nutrition you will enjoy with whole grains. Of course, all grain products are low in fat, and you will get complex carbohydrates and some vitamins and minerals from any kind of grain product. However, refined grains just don’t give you the fiber or important nutrients you will find in whole grain products. Among these nutrients are magnesium, selenium, and potassium. All of these factors make it very important to make the pro-active choice of adding whole grains to your food plan.
Happily, it is really quite simple to include these delicious, nutritious foods in your menu. There are many whole grain choices in your supermarket. There are raw ingredients like whole wheat flour, old fashioned oatmeal, cornmeal, whole corn, brown and wild rice, barley, old fashioned popcorn, and much more. There are also lots of prepared bread items that are whole grain, such as whole wheat breads and many boxed cereals. So you can see that it is easy to enrich your food plan with delicious whole grains with only slight changes in your shopping habits.
Or, you can turn your gaining health project into an adventure by getting to know your local health food store. There you will find lots of interesting whole grain choices that you may never have known existed like kasha, buckwheat, bulgur, amaranth, quinoa, sorghum, triticale, and millet. A good health food store will have all kinds of interesting grains and cereals that you can often buy in bulk, so you could just try a little to see how you like it. You will also find unusual prepared breads, pastries and mixes like pancake mix, biscuit mix and so on that will give you the convenience of processed foods and the goodness of whole grains.
Old fashioned popcorn is a good way to add whole grains to your diet. It is delicious, fun, and satisfies the craving for crunchy food. I enjoy a big bowl of popcorn and a movie a couple of times a week. Be sure to use old-fashioned popcorn that you air pop or pop on the stove-top the old-fashioned way. This kind of popcorn is less expensive and healthier. Microwave popcorn is processed, and a lot of it’s goodness is removed. Plus, microwave popcorn usually has flavorings and toppings that consist of hydrogenated oils and chemicals – two things you do not need. When I have popcorn, I top it with a half-and-half mixture of melted butter and olive oil. Other oils are good too. I have used walnut oil and peanut oil successfully. Sprinkle with salt and whatever herb mixture you like.
Here are some great ideas for ways to incorporate delicious whole grains into your daily life.
Say goodbye to processed, sugary cereals for breakfast. Instead enjoy delicious high fiber cereals like bran flakes, old fashioned oatmeal, or shredded wheat. Be sure to remember to use honey, molasses, raw sugar, cane syrup or stevia as a sweetener. Yogurt, low-fat, or 2% milk make great toppers along with fresh or dried fruit.
Always choose whole grain prepared breads like sandwich bread, bagels, pastries, muffins, crackers, and even tortillas. Choose items that list whole grains among the very first of the listed ingredients. Or better yet, learn to make your own whole grain breads and specialty items. In this way, you will know exactly what is in your whole grain breads, and you will be able to personalize your recipes to create favorites that are unique to you.
Remember to use whole grains like wild rice or brown rice, barley or bulgur in soups and stews. These are also good in cold dishes like salads and delicious when added to casseroles and many other dishes like meatloaf and hamburger patties! Use your imagination! Cook extra when you make whole grains so that you will have cooked whole grains on hand to add to dishes quickly and easily.
Bread chicken with crushed bran cereal and spices before baking. Use crushed bran flakes or rolled oats in any recipe that calls for bread crumbs. If you want a nutty taste to your “bread crumbs” toast your whole grains before you use them.
Adding whole grains to your diet helps your digestion, helps you avoid many kinds of cancer – particularly colon cancer – and nourishes your body. Whole grains contain omega 3 fatty acids that support many of your body functions and act as anti-oxidants to fight cancers of all kinds. Whole grains help lower cholesterol and fight heart disease. The benefits of pro-actively choosing whole grains over processed grains cannot be praised or recommended enough!
Here are a few quick, easy whole grain recipes to help get you started!
Sweet Wheat Bread
My Own Old Fashioned Oatmeal Recipe
Making Popcorn The Old Fashioned Way
Please see the Resources Box for more ideas!