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 usual. With a little time, they’ll get used to it – 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 loving the brown pasta in no time!
- Sprinkle white breadcrumbs over cooked brown rice – making it whiter and crunch 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!
Switching: Swap white flour with whole wheat 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 whole wheat, 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 pasta - raw|
|Brown rice - raw*||2 tablespoons||60 g|
|Bulgur - raw*||1 mini|
|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 cous cous - uncooked||2 tablespoons||66 g|
|Quinoa - raw||2 tablespoons||20 g|
|Brown rice cakes||3||24 g|
* : Portions may vary when cooked
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As well as being a healthy choice for people who want to reduce the amount of gluten in their diet, or have coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance, Gluten Free Corn Flakes are fortified with B-vitamins, folic acid and iron
It’s too early to say. The science in this area is still emerging. There is evidence that low GI foods take longer to digest and help you feel satisfied for longer, but none that you’ll eat fewer calories at the next meal.
Not yet, but we will keep listening and responding to people’s needs.
The serving sizes mentioned on breakfast cereals can slightly differ, mainly due to differences in product density. Beyond its nutrients density, it’s also important for the portion size to suit the average cereal bowl. Some types of breakfast cereals, such as mueslis or granolas, are denser than traditional flakes; so a 30 g serving could look tiny and unrealistic in a bowl – that's why we use 45 g as a reference. These different serving sizes have been defined by the European cereals trade association and consistently applied by all industry members in Europe.
No. Even though some foods made with whole grain have a high GI, you can still benefit by including them in a healthy, balanced diet. Eating lots of whole grain can be good for the heart, even if the GI of the food is high. The whole population can benefit from eating more whole grain; the effect of low GI foods is still not clear.