Whole grains are so-called because they contain most, if not all, their original parts when they are used to create a food product. In many cases, they are simply sold in a form that’s the same or very close to their original. What does that mean? Simply put, it means the food is healthier than its refined grain counterpart. When the food is left as unprocessed as possible, it means you are getting a more nutritious product. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends making half of your grain intake in the form of whole grains. So here are some yummy choices to round out your meal plan.
1. Steaming Brown Rice
The great thing about brown rice is that you can use it in place of white rice in any recipe. The brown version contains more of the original rice, which translates to more fiber, iron and other vitamins and minerals. It has a nuttier flavor than white rice, which makes it perfect for serving with stir-fry or Mexican food.
2. Air-Popped Popcorn
Yes, you read that right! Your favorite movie snack is considered a whole grain. You can eat several cups for very few calories. One caveat – that means you can’t douse it in butter and salt or it stops being a healthy choice. Try a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and chili powder instead. Yum!
3. Quinoa the Superfood
You’ve probably heard that quinoa is a superfood. It’s loaded with protein, fiber and iron, which makes it a great way to meet your daily quotas for those and other nutrients. Quinoa is a great alternative to rice and tastes great cold in salads or hot as a side dish or in soup. It’s easy to prepare and has a mild flavor that works well with vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, meats and cheeses.
4. Barley, Hulled or Not
Barley is a little known whole grain. You’ve probably heard of it, but maybe haven’t eaten it. It’s not super popular, but I think it’s super decadent in a bowl of veggie soup. It also works as a side dish when mixed with other grains or vegetables. Barley is a really good source of fiber so it makes sense to include it in your diet if you have digestive troubles or are trying to control your cholesterol levels.
5. Creamy Oatmeal
Oatmeal is definitely a whole grain, and a delicious one too! It’s a great choice if you eat gluten-free. Look for certified gluten-free oats and use them in baking or to make your morning bowl of cereal. Oatmeal has a mild flavor that you can jazz up with cinnamon, fruits, butter, syrup or brown sugar.
6. Corn (What!?)
Are your surprised? Corn is considered a whole grain rather than a vegetable. When you choose corn, make sure you choose “whole grain” corn. Fresh corn on the cob with a touch of butter, salt and pepper is the perfect way to enjoy it. You can also use cornmeal to make muffins, pancakes, bread or the crust for fried chicken. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
7. Whole Wheat, of Course
You can’t make your whole grains grocery list without including whole wheat. The trick is finding 100% whole wheat, which you should see written on the package to be sure. Look for bread and pasta made with 100% whole wheat and you can easily meet your daily quota of whole grains. Use bread to make toast for breakfast or your lunchtime sandwich. When it comes to pasta, the whole wheat version works in any of your favorite recipes. Awesome!
Which whole grains do you eat regularly? Will you try anything new after reading this list?