When I decided to start losing weight, I really got picky about what I was putting in my body. If I was going to eat it, it first of all had to be delicious. I wasn’t going to waste my time or my calories on things that didn’t taste good, no flavorless cardboard here! I also wanted to make sure that I packed as much nutrition into each bite as I possibly could. Since I was eating less I really wanted to make my food count!
So many of the things commonly eaten today are nutritionally void. Refined grain products have the germ and the bran of the grain removed in the processing, removing all the nutrition right along with it! That means that while your white bread toast might fill up your belly in the morning, you are gaining little to no nutritional benefit. I want to go through and talk about a few grains/grain foods in more detail, why whole grain is better, and what good options are out there.
- Bread – Reading labels is so important when it comes to bread! I used to buy the whole wheat bread at the grocery store and think it was healthy for me. Once I started paying attention to what was on the label, I realized that most of those so-called “wheat” breads were really just white bread with the teeniest bit of whole wheat flour thrown in, just enough to make it a slightly darker color. That isn’t any healthier for you than white bread, and the long list of other science experimentish ingredients weren’t helping. When looking for bread, make sure it lists “whole wheat flour” as one of the main ingredients, and that white flour, refined flour, wheat flour (without the world “whole”) are not in the list. You also want to make sure the list is short and includes things you recognize. Multi-grain is not the same thing as whole grain, it just means they used more than one type of grain and says nothing at all about whether those grains were whole or not. Bread is easy to make, but if (like me) you decide to buy your bread, try a local bakery. We have a fantastic local bakery that does a 9 grain bread with just a few simple ingredients, and it is delicious!
- Rice – White rice is the same as white flour products, all the nutritious part of the rice has been stripped away and what is left is high calorie with very little nutrition. Again, why eat blank calories? I personally like the flavor of brown rice better anyway, it is more nutty and not so blah and boring. You have to be careful because there are many brown rice imitations out there, too. Stay away from anything that says “instant” or ‘fast cooking,” these words tell you that the rice is more processed than is good for you and is not the real thing. Instead, buy the bag that simply lists “whole brown rice” or “whole grain brown rice” as the only ingredient, and the instructions say it will take between half an hour to an hour to cook.
- Oats – I love oats! I’ve often said that they are the only thing on the entire cereal aisle that is worth picking up. But again, if it says “instant” or “quick cook,” too much nutritional value has been lost to make it cook so quickly. I always buy the old-fashioned rolled oats. I can use them to make granola or I can even divide them into zipper bags with some flavorings and/or dried fruit to make my own “instant” oatmeal that I can just pop in the microwave. My favorite way to eat oats, though, is in the form of steel cut oats. These are the oats before they are flattened, and although they take much longer to cook, I think the flavor is far superior! There also isn’t that mushy texture that rolled oats can get. Tonight we are having one of my favorite recipes for dinner, pan seared oatmeal.
- Pasta – I don’t know about you, but I’m not really a fan of whole wheat pasta. I love the texture of whole grain in breads and rice and in so many different applications, but for some reason whole wheat pasta just doesn’t cut it for me. Thankfully there are other great options of whole grain pasta besides wheat! My favorite is quinoa pasta, but there is also brown rice pasta and other varieties. I encourage you to experiment and see what you like the best.
- Corn – Popcorn is a whole grain! I eat popcorn several times a week, it is one of my favorite snacks. Corn is one of the most genetically modified foods on the planet, so make sure to go organic when using corn products. You can also find this wonderful whole grain in tortillas, tamales, cornbread, so many yummy places!
- Other grains – If you’ve never tried quinoa, I encourage you to give it a go. It’s so good for you and delicious! We have also used bulgar wheat and loved it, you cook and use it just like you would rice. We also love barley in soups and stews. There are also many other grains that I still need to try!
What do you think of whole wheat products, love them or hate them? How do you get more whole grain in your diet? And what is the most unusual grain you’ve ever tried?
This post has been added to the Unprocessed Fridays link party on Girl Meets Nourishment. Check out the post here for other fun links!