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 color 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 choose brown!
Whole grain foods taste great, but the brown color 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 color 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 that 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-fiber’, ‘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 flavor, 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 beef 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 favorites.
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 mid-morning or mid-afternoon treat, some snacks can be a source of whole grain.
- 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|
|Porridge oats - uncooked||1 tablespoon|
|Wholemeal pita 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
- Find out more about whole grain’s nutrients http://www.wholegrain.co.uk
- US department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human services (2010).
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For the last 15 years we’ve been working to reduce the sodium (which is the major component of salt) in our breakfast cereals across the world because we want to keep making them more nutritious. Achieving consistency in all products, in all countries, takes time - so some may have more sodium than others. Our aim is for all our cereals – globally – to have the same reduced levels of sodium, with a target of less than 135mg per serving in all our children's products.
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
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. It’s easy to know if a Nestlé breakfast cereal is made with whole grain: just look out for the Green Banner and whole grain tick on top of the box.
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.