Whole grains for a healthy life

Published 5:19 pm Saturday, April 12, 2014

If you watched Fresh & Simple on ABC 6 News on Wednesday, April 2, you would have learned about Whole Grain Sampling Day. That day is celebrated each year by the Whole Grains Council as a motivator to try a new whole grain. But don’t just leave it at that day — make sure to incorporate it all year around.

Recently, I received a question on Twitter about whether corn is a grain or a vegetable. It’s actually both!  Sweet corn is considered a vegetable, while dried corn, used in corn meal or as popcorn, is a whole grain.  Other whole grains include wheat, oats, rice, quinoa, farro, rye, bulgur and many more. Why care about whole grains? Whole grains contain phytochemicals, antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin E, fiber and iron.  Research shows eating whole grains may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity and diabetes.  Eating at least three servings of whole grains per day sets you up for the right amount.

A serving size is one slice of 100 percent whole grain bread; ½ cup of whole grain rice, pasta, cooked cereal, or other grains; or one cup 100 percent whole grain cereal. Shopping in the supermarket aisles will lead you to a variety of whole grains. Forget what you know about “shopping around the perimeter for healthier foods.” If you do that, you will miss out on whole grains.  So take your cart down the center of the store and scope out the many options like whole grain pasta, brown rice, whole grain breads and tortillas, whole grain pizza crusts and more.

So how do you find whole grain foods in the aisles?  Look for the Whole Grain Stamp.  It is yellow in color and is usually displayed on the front of the box or package. This stamp guarantees that a product provides at least half a serving of whole grain in each portion. It is a voluntary system though, so you can also look at the package and just make sure it says “whole grain” or “100 percent whole grain.”

Whole grains can be incorporated into breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  Start with whole grain cereal or try a whole grain muffin with peanut butter for breakfast, followed up by a slice of pizza made with a whole grain crust and some fresh fruit at lunch, and end your day with a grilled chicken breast, one of my family’s favorite recipes (Cranberry Pecan Multi-Grain Medley — recipe follows) and broccoli. Snacks can include whole grain pita chips and hummus or salsa, popcorn, or whole grain crackers with a cheese stick.

Have a question about whole grains? Tweet it to me @jenhaugen!

Follow Jen’s blog at www.JenHaugenRD.wordpress.com

Cranberry Pecan Multi-Grain Stuffing

Source: www.minuterice.com

Makes 4 servings

All you need

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup diced onion

¼ cup diced celery

¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning

½ cup dried cranberries

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 bag Minute Multi-Grain Medley, uncooked (there are 4 bags in one box)

½ cup chopped pecans, toasted

 All you do

1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and celery and cook 2 minutes. Add poultry seasoning, cranberries and broth.

2. Bring to a boil and stir in Multi-Grain Medley.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.  Stir in pecans.

Nutritional Analysis: 280 calories, 15 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 260 mg sodium,

33 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 4 g protein. Gluten-free, lactose-free.