If eating smarter is your Near Year’s resolution, be sure to think about whole grains. Refined grains have only a fraction of the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and dietary fiber — or roughage — of whole grains.
Cardiovascular health benefits from whole grains which lower the risk of hypertension, diabetes and some forms of cancer, and decrease bad LDL cholesterol. Also, fiber creates a feeling of fullness with fewer calories which can help to curb your appetite
At least half of the grain you eat every day should be whole. That’s 3 ounces or more per day. It shouldn’t be too difficult to get 3 ounces of whole grains per day from bread, breakfast cereal, baked goods, snacks, pasta, rice and other grains. The problem is that many of us think we’re getting whole grains but only five percent of us really are.
One reason for this confusion is we may not be sure what qualifies as whole grain. Food labeled as “multi-grain” or “hearty grain” can be misleading because these products sound healthy, but whole grain ingredients may make up only a small portion of the food. Multigrain only means more than one grain can be found in the list of ingredients. If you’re aiming for whole grains then “whole grain” must be listed as the first ingredient on the ingredient list.
Nearly 5,000 products participate in the Whole Grain Stamp program. This program helps identify foods containing whole grains. The Whole Grains Council recommends a daily goal of 48 grams of whole grains. Don’t confuse this number with grams of carbs or fiber listed on the nutrition facts panel.
— On packages that display a “100 percent Whole Grain Stamp” you are guaranteed it provides one serving of whole grains or 16 grams of whole grains per serving.
— If the package displays the “Basic Whole Grain Stamp” the product provides a half-serving, or 8 grams, of whole grains per serving.
— Start your day with a whole grain such as cooked oatmeal or homemade granola. If you’ve committed to the idea but aren’t sure which is the best choice, these facts can help you sort among regular, quick-cooking and instant oatmeal plus those in pre-portioned packets.
— Time. There is a variety of differences in cooking times. Rolled oats take longer to cook than quick-cooking oats.
— Fiber. All forms of cooked oatmeal have 4 grams of fiber per cup and the same amount of soluble fiber. The fiber is responsible for the feeling of fullness and heart health benefits.
Another confusing grain that comes in multiple forms is rice. White rice is processed to remove the bran and the germ, making it a poor choice. The bran is retained on brown rice; it surrounds the kernel making it chewier, nuttier and richer in nutrients.
To adjust to the new flavor and texture of brown rice, cook a batch each of white and brown then combine them. To make cooked brown rice quick-to-serve you can package leftover rice and freeze it. It warms quickly in the microwave on busy days for whole grain goodness. “Quick” brown rice in the grocery store is precooked. You can prepare it in10 minutes — a quarter of the time needed to cook regular brown rice.
Start slow when increasing how many whole grains you eat. A good starting goal is to choose a whole grain in place of the refined one. Every small change will be a boost to your health.
Choose popcorn for snacking in place of processed, refined chips and crackers.
Experiment with new grains such as quinoa, barley, kamut, bulgur and teff in place of white potatoes and white rice. Use leftovers in salads and stir fry dishes.
Switch to whole grain pasta in place of the white variety.
Make a sandwich with one slice of white and one slice of whole wheat bread as you adjust to heartier flavor and texture.
Source: Colorado Cooperative Extension
Bran Raisin Muffins
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 ½ cups whole-grain bran flakes and raisin cereal
1 ¼ cups fat-free milk
1/3 cup honey
¼ cup vegetable oil
Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine cereal, milk and honey. Let stand 3 minutes pr until cereal softens. Add egg and oil. Beat well. Add flour mixture, stirring only until combined. Portion batter evenly into twelve 2 ½ inch muffin cups coated with nonstick spray.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.