Why do people continue to think that whole grains are just for breakfast? You can easily eat three servings a day:
Eat a whole grain breakfast cereal. It can be hot or cold—more than 30 whole grain breakfast cereals are distributed nationally. It may take some doing to switch from your favorite cereal or eggs—but its really, really good for you.
Switch to whole grain pancakes and waffles. Buckwheat is delicious, and lends itself to savory toppings as well as sweet—smoked salmon and/or salmon caviar with sour cream and dill, for example.
Switch your breads. Your morning toast or bagel, or luncheon sandwich breads, pita and tortillas can go whole grain, and you’ll hardly notice (you may even like it better). Look for whole grain muffins (whole wheat, rolled oats) and whole grain corn bread.
Whole grain snacks. Make your own “Chex mix” with whole grain cereal, look for whole grain cereal bars, brown rice cakes and crackers, buy whole grain tortilla chips and pretzels, and choose popcorn over potato chips.
Add whole grains to casseroles, soups and stews. Barley, brown rice and wild rice are delicious.
Opt for whole grain pasta. For everyday family pasta dishes covered with flavorful red sauces, this one is easy. You can find whole wheat pasta in better supermarket brands like Barilla and DeCecco, as well as fine artisan brands like Rossi Pasta and Rustichella Pasta.
Use whole grains in salads, stuffings and sides. It’s easy to incorporate bulgur (cracked wheat), brown or wild rice, kasha or whole grain barley.
Add rolled oats to cookies and cakes. An oatmeal cookie is delicious, and has many varieties—from dried cranberry almond oatmeal to oatmeal pecan chocolate chip. You can substitute whole grain flour for one-fourth to one-half of the white flour in recipes.
It’s easy to go whole grain. Just switch out the
bland white rice for more flavorful brown rice...and throw in a whole wheat tortilla, while you’re
at it. Photo courtesy of RiceSelect.
Where To Find Recipes
The Whole Grains Council website has a basic grains cooking section and a significant number of links to other websites with whole grain recipes.
Whole grains are starting to appear with increasing frequency in baked goods, foods like pancake mixes (Kodiak Cakes, also sold in some Williams-Sonoma stores, are a delicious example) and prepared foods (the latter are most often available at natural foods stores). Just make certain that you’re really getting the whole grain, not something that merely sounds like one.
Some manufacturers have begun putting whole grains into products such as cookies. Are there really whole grains in these? Yes—but a cookie is still a cookie. Don’t depend upon such dietary indulgences for your whole grain intake, please.
And, for our money, the best “whole grain cookie” is the classic oatmeal cookie. No need to get fancy here.
Another easy whole grain switch: Instead of potatoes or white rice, serve brown rice or whole wheat pasta.
I Don’t Like Oatmeal. Are There Other Whole Grain Cereals?
First off, when was the last time you tried oatmeal? If it was in high school and you’re over the age of 25, do us both a favor and try it again. But this time, go with the non-instant, non-mushy, non-watery oatmeal. Go for a quality oatmeal.
You’ll have to cook thicker oats for a slightly longer time, but they have a real, grown-up texture. And nobody says you have to eat your oatmeal plain. Fruit (fresh or dried) provides sweetness, flavor, and complementary nutrition. Try a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, or a modest amount of brown or maple sugar with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Some people like a dab of butter, too.
If you buy a quality product—look at the oatmeal brands reviewed at the end of this article—you’ll see oatmeal in a new light.
If it’s all to no avail, and you still don’t like oatmeal, don’t despair. You’ll find literally dozens of hot cereals available to consumers these days. Many don’t contain oats at all, as they’re wheat-based, or based on grains such as rye or brown rice.
And even if you don’t care for oats, you might not mind them in a cereal that’s a blend of grains; if that’s the case, you’ll have many choices, too.
Try artisanal oatmeals like Three Bears Porridge
for a new take on whole grains.
Cooking Tips for Whole Grain Hot Cereals
As has already been stated elsewhere in this article, the microwave can be a time-saver and mighty convenient. But please follow directions carefully; when instructions tell you that you’ll need a deep bowl, there’s a reason for it! As chocolatier and whole grain aficionado Tom Pedersen says (he’s the maker of Kakawa Cocoa Beans, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week), cooking these hot cereals is not rocket science!
If you don’t like it watery. It’s perfectly O.K. to adjust the amount of water in which you cook the cereal, depending upon whether you like a cereal that’s thicker or thinner. By all means, and especially if you’re not an experienced cook, follow the proportions on the packaging initially. But you may find that the cereal emerges too thick or too thin for your preferences. If that happens, simply make a mental adjustment, and try a little more or less water next time. You can always add a little more water as a cereal cooks, if needed; on the other side of the coin, most cooked cereals thicken upon standing, so a cereal that’s too thin might be much more to your liking after you’ve read your e-mail. Cover the pot tightly and let it stand, off the heat. Cooking times may differ from those stated on the package, as well. I’ve found that some cereals take more time to absorb water in my kitchen than specified in the directions, and some take less. Again, it’s a question of figuring out what works for you on your stovetop or in your microwave or crock pot.
For easy clean-up. Nobody likes cleaning up, but it’s an enormous help if you make sure to fill up any cooking pots, cereal bowls, etc., with water after using them to cook or eat any hot cereals. If you don’t, you’ll be left with a hard-to-remove starch film that magically turns to a near-glue as it dries. Don’t omit this step, as it will save much gnashing of teeth later in the day.