Did you know that September is Whole Grains Month? I didn’t even know there was such a thing. In any event, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to explore whole grains over the next four weeks, including some easy recipes to help add more whole grains to your daily meals. Many of you probably know that whole grains are good for you and that you should be eating more of them, but practically speaking, it can be difficult to transition to a diet that includes more whole grains than refined grains.
I’m hoping that by sharing some information on the benefits of adding more whole grains to your daily diet, as well as including some enticing recipes, that you will try something new, whether it’s eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast instead of having a bagel, trying whole grain pasta, or substituting quinoa in a rice pilaf recipe.
To help launch Whole Grains Month, I consulted with the Program Manager for Oldways and the Whole Grains Council. But before we get started, let’s start with a few basics.
What exactly are whole grains?
Whole grains are cereal grains that contain three parts — the germ, endosperm and bran. When grains are processed (e.g., white wheat flour), the germ and bran are stripped away, leaving just the endosperm. The germ is packed with protein, iron, vitamins and antioxidants, and the bran contains valuable minerals and vitamins, as well as insoluble fiber. The endosperm is the least nutrient dense part of the grain. When you eat whole grains, you are consuming all three parts of the grain, including the most nutritious parts.
What are some whole grains?
There are numerous whole grains, but here are some of the more popular ones:
- Wheat (including spelt, farro, bulgur, cracked wheat, wheatberries)
- Corn *
- Rice (brown and colored)*
- Oats **
- Quinoa *
- Sorghum *
- Amaranth *
- Buckwheat *
- Millet *
- Montina *
- Teff *
- Wild Rice *
** Although oats are inherently gluten-free, they are often contaminated with wheat during growing or processing. Look for packaging that states “Gluten-Free.”
Amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat are not true whole grains, but their nutritional profile, preparation and use are similar.
What are some of the ways you incorporate whole grains into your daily meals? What are your favorite whole grain recipes? Our goal is to entice as many people to incorporate more whole grains into their daily meals, so please share!
I would like to thank Karen for taking the time out to answer these questions, which I hope will encourage all of you to try to incorporate more whole grains into your daily meals starting this month.
And now for some fun…to celebrate Whole Grains Month, The Whole Grains Council is running a Whole Grains Stampede Sweepstakes for the entire month of September, so be sure to visit their site and enter for a chance to win some prizes (open to all U.S. residents).
Whole Grains Council: Definition of Whole Grains
Dr. Sears: What You Should Know About Wheat