Friday, November 13, 2009

Good Health Guideline: Whole Grains


Welcome to the final installment of my GHG series. I've enjoyed the discussion so far. I didn't purposely save whole grains for last, but it is one of the more vague of the WW guidlines: "Choose whole grains whenever possible." If you take this literally, it's almost always possible to choose whole grains. If you walk into a restaurant and notice they have no whole grains, you could leave.

In reality, I don't always choose whole grains, even when it's possible. The one-point difference between white pasta, which I love, and whole-wheat pasta, which I don't particularly enjoy, isn't enough to convince me to make the switch. I buy wholegrain breads most of the time, but every now and then I enjoy a slice of sourdough or Italian or even a bagel.

Besides, when I think whole grains, I don't think of things made with whole grain flour, I think of actual whole grains. The Kashi pilaf pictured above is one of the tastiest whole grain products I've found. There is a Mediterranean Pilaf recipe on the box that is fantastic, and I've made variations on that theme by changing up the vegetables or seasonings. You can also add fruit and cinnamon and have a great breakfast pilaf or even a dessert. Kashi makes a lot of great products, including 2-point granola bars that blow the WW snack bars out of the water and have a lot more wholesome-seeming ingredients. The crackers and cereals are great too.

I have not managed to make oatmeal in any way I like except in granola and cookies. There is something yucky about the flavor. I've tried steel-cut oats, rolled oats, old-fashioned oats, overnight oats... I've dosed them up with all kinds of things. I do, however, like Quaker's multigrain cereal, so it really must be something about cooked oats. I like raw oats in yogurt, just not cooked ones.

I enjoy a lot of other whole grains: Barley, quinoa, brown rice, etc. The only thing that keeps me from having them more often is the cooking time. I had a rice cooker but it never did a very good job of cooking rice and grains evenly. Maybe I need to try another model. I do have some recipes for cooking whole grains in the slow-cooker, so I should probably dust those off, especially now that the weather is getting colder and I'm starting to feel the call of comfort foods. A warm bowl of grains can be just as comforting as macaroni and cheese (ok, almost as comforting, anyway), I just don't always think of them first.

Any favorites you'd like to share?

3 comments:

  1. the cereal sounds good. I'm staying focused on high fiber - Fiber One Shredded Wheat, Fiber Plus bars, apples, oranges, and beans. A lot more carbs than I'd prefer but... I'm feeling good.

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  2. My diet is super high in fiber (averaging around 50 grams per day), but I don't "always" choose whole grains.

    My biggest "sin" is white rice. I like brown rice well enough, but I'm not nearly patient enough to cook it—and I've only gotten it to come out right a handful of times. And have you looked at the nutrition info? It's only barely better than white rice in terms of fiber content; really, neither is a powerhouse. So we buy our white basmati rice in 25-pound sacks from Sam's or Costco. I mostly eat it in a jambalaya (one of our staple recipes) with red beans and lots of peppers, celery, and onion, so the total fiber content of the meal is still good.

    On pasta, I compromise with the Barilla Plus enriched pasta (or store-brand version)—it has a bit more fiber than plain old pasta, a few extra vitamins, and neither my husband nor I can tell the difference.

    On other stuff, I do pick whole grain at least 90% of the time. I eat Kashi GoLean in the summer (with yogurt and fruit) and hot cereal in the winter. Lately I've been partial to Bob's Red Mill Organic High Fiber Cereal, with milk plus apple, banana, or pumpkin. When I have sandwiches, I like to do them open-face on Nature's Own 100-Calorie Multi-Grain English muffins. (These also work great for English muffin pizzas.)

    And whole grain snacks? I like Kashi's Heart to Heart crackers, or popcorn. At home, I have a microwave-safe popper to which I can add the kernels and a teaspoon of canola oil (which helps the seasonings to stick). But at work, I confess, I'll sometimes have a 100-calorie pack of microwave popcorn, chemicals and all. That's the only 100-calorie pack of anything that I'll buy, though.

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  3. I am a fan of Kashi cereal: Honey Sunshine which isn't dry or tasteless. I think whole grains are very important in the diet. I feel a lot different since I swapped out refined carbs for whole grains. I recently wrote an article about the benefits of whole grains, along with some tasty recipes: http://www.shar-on-nutrition.com/?p=362

    Feel free to comment/ask questions! :)

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07