Whether it’s snacking on a granola bar made with whole grain oats, ordering a whole-wheat hamburger bun or choosing the sushi made with brown rice, it’s getting easier to enjoy healthy whole grains in your favorite foods. Chefs and home cooks are giving side dishes a whole grain makeover too as mashed potatoes and egg noodles get pushed aside in favor of couscous, quinoa and whole-wheat pastas.
That’s a good thing since U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that all Americans eat at least half their grains as whole grains–that’s at least 3 to 5 sixteen-gram servings a day for most of us. Nutrition advice to eat the “whole” thing is based on evidence that diets that are rich in whole grains and low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol can help promote proper digestion and reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Whole grains may also play a role in insulin management and weight control when eaten as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. So, whole grains have a whole lot to offer!
Had Whole Grains Today?
So, have you had your whole grain breakfast granola cereal today? How about a slice of pizza on a whole-wheat crust? If your answer is “yes”, then you’re doing pretty well – since according to The Whole Grains Council most folks consume only one serving of whole grain per day and over 40 % of Americans never eat whole grains at all!
But, that may be changing as whole grain options move to center stage for delicious meals and satisfying snacks. For example, all of Sunbelt Bakery’s tasty granola and fruit & grain bars have at least 4 grams of whole grains. Some have as many as 9 grams.
Also, all Sunbelt Bakery products are made without any preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. Their fun flavor varieties include chocolate chip and banana, and their Family Pack bars are just the right size for portion control. And because they are delivered to communities each week, Sunbelt Bakery’s snacks and cereals have a bakery-fresh taste. It’s great to feel good about this win-win for taste and nutrition!
What’s a Whole Grain?
Whole grains, or foods made from them, contain all of the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. A whole grain is made up of three layers–the bran, the germ and the endosperm. If the grain has been cracked, crushed, rolled or milled into flour and the proportions of the three layers remain the same, then it contains the same balance of nutrients found in the original grain seed.
What Counts as Whole Grain?
Some examples of whole-grain ingredients include buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, brown or wild rice, whole-grain barley, whole rye, and whole wheat.
All Sunbelt Bakery bars, for instance, are made with whole grain oats or whole grain wheat. One my favorites is Sunbelt Bakery’s Golden Almond Chewy Granola Bar. They’re only 130 calories and contain 6 grams of whole grains per bar.
Disclosure for this post: I am thrilled to serve as the official Registered Dietitian for Sunbelt Bakery. Though I am compensated, all views and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own, and are based on my knowledge and experience as a Registered Dietitian.
“Georgia Pecan Confetti Quinoa”
Quinoa is a delicious gluten-free grain that cooks up light and fluffy like rice but contains more protein. This super side dish recipe featuring confetti colored sprinklings of orange, green and yellow veggies is flavored with garlic and rosemary. Crunchy Georgia pecans add even more great taste and nutrition because pecans are a super source of heart healthy fats and antioxidants.
By Carolyn O’Neil, MS RD co-author The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!
Yield: 6 half-cup servings
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup diced carrots
½ cup diced zucchini squash
½ cup diced yellow squash
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups cooked quinoa (prepared to package directions)
¼ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
¼ cup toasted pecan halves or pieces (reserve 2 Tablespoons for garnish)
Heat oil in large skillet and add carrots, zucchini, yellow squash and garlic. Cook until crisp tender. Fold in the cooked quinoa, rosemary and pecans. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Present quinoa on a large platter and garnish with additional toasted pecans.