Monday, March 15, 2010

Baby Steps To Healthy Living: Whole Grains

When most people start their journey to healthy eating they immediately think about dry, cardboard tasting whole wheat bread, brown rice, and other supposedly tasteless foods. If not cooked correctly this can be true, but there are so many ways to use whole grains as well as tons of different varieties.

Today I would like to focus on a few well known varieties as well as a couple new ones that you may or may not have heard of or tried before. Eating a wide variety of whole grains in your diet is important.

There are many different topics you can focus on when it comes to grains such as soaking, spouting, and sourdoughs. To keep things simple today I will try to stick with just the basics of what whole grains are, how to cook them, and how to ease your family into eating them.

Getting your family to eat whole grains:

The first thing I would recommend to help ease your family into this transition is to start slowly eliminating white flour from your diet. I started by using 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat flour in recipes and then slowly using more wheat as we became accustomed to the flavor and texture.

The same rule can apply to brown rice. Start mixing it with regular white rice and then slowly add more brown rice.

Types of whole grains:

Wheat flour-

There are 2 types of wheat flour that are typically used in baking: Hard red winter wheat and hard white spring wheat. Winter wheat is what you will usually find in the grocery store when you are buying wheat flour.
Spring wheat is best for baking because it yields a lighter texture and color when baked. You can usually find this in a grocery store or health foods store. You may have to look a little harder for it though.
Another option would be to grind your own wheat for flour. Grinding your own flour is much healthier as well as giving you fresher flour. This is something I would love to start doing as soon as I am able to get a grain mill. The cost of grinding your own flour is actually cheaper in the long run once you purchase your mill.

Brown Rice-

Brown rice is a great whole grain. It does have a different texture then white rice, but it is so much better for you.


Oats can be used in so many different ways. Most people think just about a bowl of oatmeal, which can be really yummy, but there are other ways to incorporate them into your diet. I will often toss some in when I am baking bread or muffins. Another way I get oats into our diet is to grind them up and add them to meatloaf instead of bread crumbs. I have even used them ground up as a flour in oat and nanner drops (yummy!)
One of our favorite ways to eat a bowl of oatmeal is to either soak it overnight and cook it in the morning or to cook it in a crock pot over night. I will then add some cinnamon, salt, milk, butter, and honey. You can then top it with fruit for some extra nutrition.


Millet has a great nutty flavor to it. These tiny seeds can be used in a couple of ways. I will typically add them to baked goods for an extra crunchy texture or cook them like you would rice and serve as a side dish. Instead of using water when cooking millet try chicken broth for extra flavor.


This is one of my husband's favorite grains. He is a runner and quinoa is very high in protein. If you eat very little meat like my family and you are looking for another way to add some protein to your diet quinoa is a great alternative. I usually cook it the same way you would rice. It has a cute little "tail" that sticks out of the grain when it is cooked. Quinoa can be a bit pricey so make sure to look for it in the bulk food section where it is usually cheaper.


Believe it or not popcorn is a whole grain. Make sure to buy organic corn. I will cook popcorn for my kids on the stove with some coconut oil or butter and sea salt. Sometimes we add some Parmesan cheese. They absolutely love popcorn as a snack. It is filling and low in calories.
Making your own popcorn is FAR superior to microwave popcorn. We avoid microwave popcorn when we can. It has lots of added preservatives as well as genetically modified corn.

How to store whole grains-

Whole grains will keep a long time if stored correctly. I often buy grains in bulk to save money. I am planning to get some large 5 gallon buckets to keep them in. I then transfer smaller amounts to glass jars as needed. I love to display my glass jars full of grains, beans, and other baking ingredients. They are so pretty.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this great breakdown on grains. Where would you suggest buying a grain mill?