What makes a whole grain a whole grain? Whole grain products come from whole kernels of grain. During milling, the outside layer of grains is often removed. This layer is called the bran. It contains most of the fiber and the nutrients of the grain. To be labeled “whole grain,” a product must list a whole grain as its first ingredient. It is up to the consumer to be aware of what the food label is telling us. Foods labeled with the words “multi-grain,” “stone-ground,” “100% wheat,” “cracked wheat,” seven-grain,” or “bran” are usually not whole-grain products. You must look at the ingredients list to make an informed decision.
Color is not an indication of a whole grain. Bread can be brown because of molasses or other added ingredients. Again, it is important to read the ingredients list to determine if the product is truly whole grain.
Using the Nutrition Facts label can also help us make good decisions about whole grains. Foods with whole grains will have a higher percentage of the Daily Value for fiber. Many, but not all whole grains, are good or excellent sources of fiber.
What types of grains should we be looking for and adding to our diets? There are several. Some of these you may be familiar with, some may be new to you. The first one is bulgur. Bulgur is tan granules of dried, crushed wheat that have a somewhat nutty flavor. This is popular when cooked and combined with parsley, tomatoes, and other herbs and spices in the Mediterranean dish, tabbouleh.
Another whole grain is barley. It is usually sold as refined or pearled barley. It is delicious when tossed with peas, tuna, and scallions for an easy salad. Barley is a good source of soluble fiber that has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol.
An up and coming whole grain that we have been introduced to mainly on television cooking shows is quinoa. Pronounced “keen-wa,” it is a bird seed-shaped, mild-flavored grain that is pale ivory to tan. It can be used as a substitute for rice, but you must rinse quinoa thoroughly under cold running water before cooking to insure removal of its bitter coating.
Also available are roasted buckwheat groats, which are small brown, pyramid-shaped bits. They are not true grains, but resemble them both in looks and nutritional profile. These are sometimes known as kasha. Amaranth is another less familiar grain that looks like golden poppy seeds. Amaranth cooks to a slightly crunchy porridge consistency with a subtle corn flavor.
To increase whole grains in your diet, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product, such as eating whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta and brown rice instead of white rice. Use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as barley in vegetable soup or stews and bulgur in casseroles or stir-fries. Experiment by substituting whole wheat for up to half the flour in pancake, waffle, muffin, or other flour-based recipes. They may need a bit more leavening with this substitution.
Snack on ready-to-eat, whole grain cereals such as toasted oat cereal. Add whole-grain flour or oatmeal when making cookies or other baked treats. Popcorn, a whole grain, can be a healthy snack if made with little or no added salt and butter.
I hope this information helps you to make healthy decisions when it comes to choosing whole grains. Remember to read those labels and ingredients lists and make half your grains whole!
The Trigg County Family and Consumer Sciences program will be hosting a class “Increasing Whole Grains” on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 10:00 AM at the Trigg County Extension Office. This class will be taught by Virginia Langford, Graves County Family and Consumer Sciences agent. The public is invited to attend. Please call the Trigg County Extension Office at 270-522-3269 by Monday, July 15th, to register so that we can purchase supplies. The training is free. Come and learn more about Whole Grains!
Information for this article was obtained from “Great Grains,” written by Sandra Bastin, Ph. D, R. D., Food and Nutrition Specialist for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Program; “Make half your Grains Whole,” written by Kathy Daly-Koziel and revised by Jackie Walters, University of Kentucky Extension Nutrition Education Programs; www.choosemyplate.gov; and http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/recipes
For more information, contact Cecelia Hostilo at the Trigg County Extension Office by calling 522-3269.
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.
Barley Vegetable Soup
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3⁄4 cup pearled barley
1 (13.75-oz.) can reduced-sodium beef broth, fat removed
6 cups water
Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (10-oz.) package frozen corn
1⁄2 cup (tightly packed) chopped parsley
In a large pot, heat the oil. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Mix with a large spoon. Cover and cook over low heat until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add barley, broth, water, salt, and pepper. Stir in thyme. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until barley is tender, about 55 minutes. Add corn; simmer 5 minutes longer. Stir in parsley and serve.
Yield: 6 (1 1⁄2 cup) servings
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 185 calories; 3 g fat; 53 mg sodium
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
1⁄2 cup quinoa (dry)
1 1⁄2 cups water
1 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1⁄4 teaspoon cumin
1⁄4 teaspoon coriander
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 medium scallions, minced
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 fresh green chilies, minced
Black pepper to taste
Rinse the quinoa in cold water. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, and then stir in quinoa. Return to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer until the water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes.
While quinoa is cooking, mix olive oil, lime juice, cumin, coriander, chopped cilantro, and scallions in a small bowl and set aside. Combine the black beans with the chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, and chilies in a large bowl and set aside. Once quinoa has cooled, combine all ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 140 calories; 4.5 g fat; 210 mg sodium; 23 g carbohydrate; 5 g dietary fiber; 5 g protein; 30% Daily Value vitamin A; 150% Daily Value vitamin C; 4% Daily Value calcium; 10% Daily Value iron
Bulgur Chickpea Salad
1 1⁄4 cups water
1 cup bulgur
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon minced onion
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1⁄2 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
Black pepper to taste
1⁄2 cup raisins
1⁄2 cup chopped carrots
3⁄4 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in bulgur, parsley, onion, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Cover and reduce heat; simmer 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed and the bulgur is not too crunchy. Do not overcook. Remove from heat and allow to cool; fluff with a fork. Combine the oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, and pepper; stir well. Pour over bulgur mixture and mix well. Stir in scallions, raisins, carrots, and chickpeas. Cover and chill for several hours. Store in refrigerator.
Yields: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 190 calories; 5 g total fat; 320 mg sodium; 33 g carbohydrate; 5 g dietary fiber; 9 g sugar; 5 g protein; 35% Daily Value vitamin A; 8% Daily Value vitamin C; 4% Daily Value calcium; 10% Daily Value iron