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10 Ways To Eat More Whole Grains
Beth M. Ley, Ph.D.

Research shows that people who eat regular servings of whole grains -- such as whole wheat, barley, millet and brown (or wild) rice -- have a significantly reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, weight problems, cancer, heart disease and numerous other health problems. However, most people are overwhelmed with the idea or are resistant to suddenly grinding their own flour and baking their own bread on a regular basis. So, I have an number of suggestions to help get you started. The foods mentioned can easily be found in the health section of your grocery store, health food stores or even right in your regular stores, just look for them!!!

1. Instead of cold cereal for breakfast, look for shredded wheat or another whole-grain product. Not all high-fiber cereals use whole grains, so check the label. For cooked cereals, oats (steel cut), amaranth or barley are all excellent. Pancakes made with buckwheat or oatmeal are also very good. Add fresh or frozen blueberries, cranberries or strawberries for extra flavor and nutritional value! If you have a grinder or flour mill, you can grind rice or wheat berries to make your own cream of rice or cream of wheat cereal. Simply cook with water and add a small amount of vanilla extract, cinnamon and/or butter for an excellent, delicious whole grain breakfast!

2. Choose low-fat, whole-grain snacks. Munch on whole-grain bagel or crispbread rather than a donut, bagel or candy bar. Almonds (raw is best) are technically not a grain, but they make an excellent snack food.

3. Use whole-grain flour. Use at least half whole-grain flour in any recipe that calls for it. You can also add/exchange freshly ground flax seeds to almost any recipe containing flour. Exchange about 1/4 of the amount of flour called for with ground flax.

4. Garnish foods with freshly ground flax seeds. Sprinkle into casseroles, meat loaf, meat balls, or add some to yogurt, cottage cheese, and salads for extra fiber. Try adding some barley or millet to soups or stews.

5. Use oats when you bake. It makes a great substitute for some of the flour.

6. Replace pasta (which is a man-made processed food, unless you are making it at home fresh with whole grain flour) with wild rice or kasha.

7. Choose oatmeal, whole-wheat or multigrain breads. When you buy pitas, hamburger rolls or English muffins, check that the first ingredient listed is a whole grain, such as "whole-grain" oats, wheat, flour, brown rice, corn or barley, "whole wheat" or "whole rye."

8. Instead of white rice, use brown rice or wild rice. You will double or quadruple the fiber content and greatly increase the nutritional content.

9. If you are in a hurry, try fast-cooking whole grains such as whole-wheat couscous and cracked wheat. You can also plan ahead and prepare grains that take longer to cook (wild rice, buckwheat or barley) and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day or two. When you're ready to use it, add chicken or veggies and reheat. This is also excellent for casseroles. Also, try the grains for lunch in a cold salad.

10. There are several companies that make excellent whole-grain products (see chart below). Ezekiel Bread is available in the freezer of most health food stores or health sections of your grocery store if you do not want to bake your own. My personal favorite is an excellent company that not only uses whole grains, they also use no hydrogenated oils in their baked goods . They are Natural Ovens from Manitowoc, WI. If you can’t get their products locally, go to www.naturalovens.com to find out which stores carry them or to order online.

Explore a health-food store or spend some time in the health section of your grocery store. Whole grains like bulgur, kasha, amaranth and quinoa are much higher in fiber and nutrients, have more flavor and texture than noodles or white rice. Treat yourself to a couple of cookbooks from Indian, Middle Eastern or other cuisines that use these grains, and experiment. Jazz them up even more with vegetables and seasonings such as curry powder, sage or rosemary.

AVOID:
  • BREAD made with white flour (Any brand sold at regular grocery stores)
  • CRACKERS made with white flour
  • PASTA made with white flour
  • Eden Pasta
  • BAGELS made with white flour
  • TORTILLAS made with white flour
  • WHITE RICE
  • BREAKFAST CEREALS (All extruded breakfast cereals, whether sold in supermarkets or health food stores)
USE:
  • Alvarado Street Bakery
  • Cybro’s
  • Shiloh Farms Bakery
  • Natural Ovens Bakery
  • Nature’s Path
  • Ezekiel Bread
  • Jerusalem Pita Bread
  • Great Grains (California) and other local bakeries that use whole grains
  • Wasa Sourdough Rye
  • Ak Mak
  • Hol-Grain
  • Eden Pasta
  • Alvarado Street Bakery bagels
  • Natural Ovens bagels
  • Alvarado Street Bakery sprouted wheat tortillas
  • Wild Rice
  • Lundberg Organic Brown Rice
  • Bob’s Red Mill Grains
  • Arrowhead Mills Grains
  • Steel-cut oats or barley
  • Wheatena