Whole Grain Foods - Perfect For Your Health
Our modern diets, especially the typical Western diet, tend to be high in processed foods and sugars. Most especially, grains have been stripped of their natural nutritional properties and have had a multitude of additives, flavorings and preservatives add to their mix. The result is they have low nutritional value and taste nothing like their original state. In addition, when foods, especially carbs, are highly processed they convert to sugar quickly in the body. You may think that only a candy bar can give you sugar high, and then a sugar crash…but highly processed carbs in the way of white rice and white bread can do the same thing.
Carbs overall seem to get a bad rap. That is because when people think of carbs, they tend to think of these highly processed carbs. There are plenty of good carbs though, including vegetables and whole grain foods.
Some people think “crunchy granola” when you say the word whole grain foods. These are usually people who have not experienced the delicious full bodied flavor of whole grain foods. In addition, the body feels so much better and runs better too when it switches from highly processed to whole grain foods. Let’s take a look at some great whole grain foods options:
Whole Grain Breads
Whole grain breads differ from processed breads in that the whole grain breads are made from the whole kernel of the grain instead of stripping off the outer layer (full of nutrients) that processed breads do. The result for processed breads is that they are lighter and fluffier, but greatly reduced in nutritional levels.
The whole grain breads that are full of nutrients tend to be more dense, have more color and more texture. They also have a much more robust taste, sometimes even a little nutty. Whole grain breads make for a very delicious sandwich, especially when filled with some protein, some cheese, and then chock full of fresh vegetables such as lettuce, tomato, sprouts, cucumber, and avocado. Whole grain breads are also wonderful in the morning lightly toasted with some peanut butter on top. You will find yourself more satisfied and for a longer period of time when you are eating whole grain breads as opposed to processed breads.
Wild Whole Grain Rice
Similar to the process of grains for bread, white rice is actually stripped of its outside husk, resulting in the loss of key nutrients. Again, you will be hungrier quicker when you are choosing white rice instead of wild whole grain rice. Whole grain rice means exactly what is says…the whole grain is intact.
You can use whole grain rice as a side dish, and mix in a variety of dried fruits to compliment the flavor and add additional nutritional value.
You can also use whole grain rice as a stuffing in tomatoes, zucchini or bell peppers for a delicious side dish, or even a whole meal.
Quinoa is growing in popularity, but is still relatively unknown in the whole grain foods family. It is a grain originally grown in the Andes of South America. Quinoa is very high in protein and has a very strong slightly nutty flavor.
The biggest challenge with some people seems to be how to cook it! Skip the pre-packaged boxes as much as possible and buy quinoa in its purest form. It is boiled, similarly to rice. It can be served hot as a side dish, and can be combined with vegetables as well. Quinoa also makes a great base for a cold salad. Mix in some balsamic vinaigrette, crumbled feta cheese, onions and bell peppers and chill for a fantastic cold salad. There are an increasing number of recipes online for quinoa as it grows in popularity, so check them out.
Skip the pre-packaged instant oatmeals as much as possible. They tend to be stripped of some of the whole grains, and have a lot of added preservatives. In the spirit of introducing more whole grain foods, look for steel-cut oatmeal. Yes, it takes a little longer to prepare, but the flavor is fantastic and it will give you a satisfied and full feeling for a much longer period of time then the instant oatmeal will.
Barley is another member of the whole grain foods family. Barley can be found in a number of breakfast cereals. It is also a hearty addition to any soup or stew you make.
Other Whole Grain Foods to Add to Your Diet
There are a variety of whole grain foods that you can add to your diet as well. These include whole grain or whole wheat crackers (much better with a slice of hard cheese then processed crackers!), popcorn, buckwheat added to a whole grain cereal or sprinkled in to a protein shake, bulgur, millet and wheat berries.
Try Adding Whole Grain Foods Gradually to Your Diet
If you don’t think you can make the big jump from processed grains to whole grain foods immediately, that’s okay! It may take some time to get your taste buds to make the switch. Try mixing your pastas or other grain 50/50 at first with whole grain and processed grains, and then increase the percentage every time you make a pasta dish. Gradually add more and more whole grain foods. Start with a whole grain foods side dish once or twice a week, and gradually add more. Switch to a whole grain bread for breakfast only, then gradually add for lunches and all meals. Soon your body will not be craving those highly processed foods…it will know how much better it feels enjoying whole grain foods instead.
When you are making the switch to whole grain foods, don’t forget the importance of protein as well. Your body needs a combination of both to perform optimally. Good sources of protein include eggs, milk, low fat hard cheeses, lean beef, poultry as well as seafood such as tuna, sardines and shellfish.
Another good and convenient source of protein can be obtained through the use of protein supplements. They are easy and convenient, and can be combined with some whole grain foods for a complete nutritional snack or meal. Profect and Proasis from Protica are the perfect protein supplements that are packed with protein and contain hardly any calories. An added bonus is that they are available in a variety of delicious, fruity flavors.