Switching to whole grain is easy – and tasty too!
The good news is, most grain-based foods have a whole grain equivalent:
- White bread to whole grain bread – often known as ‘wholewheat’ or ‘wholemeal’ bread – perfect for lunchboxes!
- White rice to whole grain rice – this includes brown rice, brown basmati rice and wild rice (which is actually a wild grass) – always nice to put a little colour on the plate, and it’s delicious with vegetables.
- Pasta to whole grain pasta or ‘brown pasta’ – tastes yummy!
- Pancakes to whole grain pancakes – how many children don’t like pancakes? And they’ll love these.
Help children to choose brown!
Whole grain foods taste great, but the brown colour of some of them can take a bit of getting used to. Children can be suspicious when their pasta, bread or rice is a different colour than normal. With a little time, they’ll get used to it – and here are some tips that could help.
- Mix white pasta with brown (brown pasta takes longer to cook, so start cooking it and add the white pasta later).
- Gradually reduce the amount of white pasta. They’ll be all brown in no time!
- Sprinkle white breadcrumbs over cooked brown rice – making it whiter and crunchily delicious.
- Make sandwiches with one slice of wholemeal bread and one slice of white – a fun way to get the whole grain into their lunchboxes!
Brown foods: are they necessarily whole grain?
Before you rush off to buy whole grain foods, we need to tell you some ‘brown’ foods are not whole grain at all. They may just be brown because of added ingredients like caramel. So when you see descriptions like ‘multi-grain’, ‘high-fibre’, ‘stone-ground’, ‘100% wheat’ or ‘seven-grain’ – they do not mean the foods are necessarily made with whole grain. Read the label to be sure, and look out for the word ‘whole’. If the product is made with ‘whole grain’, you know you’re getting the real deal. And if whole grain is at the top of the list of ingredients, it’s more than likely to be rich in whole grains. (If you’re buying fresh bread from a bakery, there may be no label, so best ask the baker for a whole grain loaf.)
Top tips to get more whole grain into your life
Looking for other ways of getting whole grain into your meals? Try these!
Swapsies: Swap white flour with wholewheat flour whenever you're cooking. Your whole grain cookies, muffins and pancakes will be just as tasty! To get used to the new flavour, you could start by replacing half the flour with wholewheat, and increase the amount gradually.
Stir in some whole grain: Add whole grains, like barley, to vegetable soup or stews, and add bulgur wheat to casseroles or stir-fries.
Whole grain coating: Use rolled oats or a crushed, unsweetened whole grain cereal as a coating for baked chicken, fish and pork cutlets.
Try something different: Instead of white rice, try making risottos and other rice dishes with whole grains like barley, brown rice, bulgur, millet or quinoa.
Breakfast cereals: Try cereals made with whole grains – there are plenty to choose from – many of them are probably already your children’s favourites.
Get a whole grain cook book: There are cook books dedicated to whole grain cooking - they’re packed with tasty recipes that will surprise and delight your whole family. Try these:
- The Complete Whole Grain Cook Book, by Carol Gelles
- Whole Grains for a New Generation: Light Dishes, Hearty Meals, Sweet Treats, and Sundry Snacks for the Everyday Cook, by Liana Krissoff
- Whole Grain Health Saver Cook Book, by Miriam Polunin
Whole grain snack attack!
Whether you fancy an afternoon nibble or a teatime treat, some snacks can be a source of whole grain. Try these:
- Whole grain pretzels or corn snacks
- Breakfast cereals made with whole grain
- Crackers made with whole grain
- Cereal bars made with whole grain
A whole lot of grains
One bushel of wheat contains around a million individual whole grain kernels.
War On Whole Grain
Amaranth is a whole grain that was incredibly important to the Aztecs. So when the Spanish invaded, their leader, Cortez, tried to destroy the Aztecs by not allowing them to grow it - anyone caught was put to death!
Taste-Tastic ways to get your daily whole grain
|Each suggestion = 1 serving of whole grain|
|Breakfast Cereals made with whole grain||6 to 9 tablespoons||30 g|
|Brown Rice - raw*||2 tablespoons||60 g|
|Bulgur - raw*||20 g|
|Wholemeal tortilla||1 small tortilla||30 g|
|Wholemeal bread||1 medium slice||40 g|
|Poridge oats - uncooked||1 tablespoon|
|Wholemeal pitta bread||1 small||35 g|
|Crackers made with whole grain||2 slices|
|Popcorn - popped||1.5 cups||30 g|
|Whole Grain Couscous - uncooked||2 tablespoons||66 g|
|Quinoa - raw||2 tablespoons||20 g|
|Brown rice cakes||3||24 g|
* : Portions may vary when cooked
- Whole Grain goodness: http://www.wholegraingoodness.com/guide-whole-grain/eatwell-guide
- Whole Grain goodness: http://www.wholegraingoodness.com/guide-whole-grain/eating-enough-whole-grain
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Two things to remember: • Look for food labels where the word 'whole' appears in front of the name of the grain, like “whole wheat” or “wholemeal bread”. • For foods with more than one ingredient, make sure whole grain is listed towards the top of the ingredients list. The further up the list it is, the more whole grain has been used in the recipe. And look out for the percentage of whole grain. You should find this in the ingredients list too.
A ‘whole’ grain has more nutrients than a ‘refined’ grain, because all parts of the grain are retained – kernel, bran, endosperm and germ – along with their fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. But most of the bran and germ are removed when producing refined grains. Whole grains therefore contain more nutrients than refined grains.
The general name for proteins found in cereal grains such as wheat. It holds the food together, like a ‘glue’, and gives dough its elasticity.
Keep it simple: make grains the base of your diet and choose whole grains over refined grains wherever possible. U.S Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 3 servings (48g) a day. So, whenever you look for breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, rice or flour to cook at home, look for the word “whole”, ideally among the first ingredients in the list.
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