Good Eats with Whole Grains

You’ve likely already heard it - whole grains are good for you. But, what the heck is a ‘whole grain’, and why should we eat them? I’m going to try and explain this and get you thinking beyond bread. Whole grains are a rich source of fibre, B-vitamins, Vitamin E, phytochemicals, several minerals and they contain some protein. Diets rich in whole grains are associated with reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.  A whole grain has all three parts of the grain: the bran, endosperm and the germ. The bran and the germ have the bulk of the nutrition of the grain. Refined grains, on the other hand, like white flour and pasta, are made from the endosperm – the least nutritious portion of the grain. Sure, refined grains are enriched with vitamins and minerals (enriched means that some of the nutrients of the bran and germ are added back) but they’re still less nutritious than whole grains and have much less fibre.

But my kids will only eat white bread! 

That may be so but there are lots of other ways to eat whole grains rather than switching to whole grain bread. Barley, quinoa, brown rice, and bulgur are just a few examples of whole grains. They can be served as a side dish, added to soup or as a base for a salad. And, oats, of course are a whole grain. Serve hot oatmeal or make oatmeal muffins.

How do you know if a grain product is made with the whole grain?
You’ll need to read the ingredient list. It will say ‘whole’ and then the grain. So, it might say whole rye or whole oats. You can tell if whole grains are the main ingredient because it will be first on the ingredient list. Don’t be fooled by a caption on the product that reads ‘made with the goodness of whole grain’. The product may actually be mostly a refined grain with some whole grain added. Multigrain means the product has more than one grain but might not be a whole grain. And, here in Canada, whole wheat flour or whole wheat bread is not a whole grain! So, for example, if a loaf of bread says ‘100% whole wheat’ it isn’t whole grain. Check the ingredient list and look for ‘whole grain wheat flour’ or ‘whole rye’ or ‘whole oats’ (these are just some examples) as the first ingredient.
Go to Eatright Ontario for a great explanation of whole grains, how to choose whole grain products and recipes made with whole grains:

I’ve been expanding our family’s ‘whole grain horizon’ and some of my successes include buckwheat pancakes, hot oatmeal and brown rice pudding. One that wasn’t so well received was a whole grain couscous and black bean salad. My youngest son fondly refers to it as ‘goose poop’ salad! Truth be told, he was the only one who didn’t like it.

Here’s a quinoa salad I tried and liked. I 'invented' this recipe by taking some ideas from a few quinoa salad recipes I looked up. I used roasted veggies simply b/c I was roasting a huge pan of veggies for dinner and I thought it would taste good with the quinoa. So, you don't have to roast the veggies and instead of sweet potato, you could add chopped tomato or cucumber or another vegetable you have on hand that could be eaten raw (broccoli, cauliflower or even frozen peas could be used)

1 cup quinoa
1 each, red and yellow pepper, roasted and diced
1/2 red onion, roasted and diced
I small sweet potato, roasted and diced
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese
Lemon vinaigrette

What to do
Cook the quinoa. It's similar to cooking rice. Use twice as much water as quinoa. So, for 1 cup quinoa, bring 2 cups water to boil, stir the quinoa into the boiling water, reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer for 15 min. After the 15 min, remove from heat and let sit for 5 min (keep the lid on). Fluff with a fork.
It looks like this (uncooked quinoa is the picture at the start of this post)
Get the vegetables, olives and feta cheese ready.

Add them to the quinoa

Pour the vinaigrette over everything and toss. I used about 3 tbsp of vinaigrette. Use just enough to have the dressing lightly coat the ingredients.

This will keep well for a few days in the fridge. Leftovers are great for a packed lunch. If I make this again with roasted veggies, I'm going to add some toasted sunflower seeds or almonds to give it some crunch. But, the next time I make this I'm going to use raw veggies.

Send us your favourite quinoa recipe.
                                                                                                            Michele, RD