Top Tips for Switching to Whole Grain Foods
Whole grains contain more nutrients than grains that have been refined. That’s why it’s widely recommended that we eat more whole grain. So how about giving whole grain food a go? Once you’ve tried them, you might never want to go back to the white stuff!
Switching to whole grain foods is easy – and tasty too!
What are whole grains?
Whole grains are grains of cereal that have been kept intact. Grains have 3 components: the endosperm, the germ and the bran. Refind cereal products only keep the endosperm part of the grain, while whole grain keep the entire seed of the plant, with its nutritious content the same as when it was growing in the fields.
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!
Top tips to get more whole grain foods 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 food 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, including ideas for whole grain snacks. 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
Taste-Tastic ways to get your daily whole grain
Whether you fancy an afternoon nibble or a teatime treat, you can choose whole grain snacks. 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
|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*||1 mini||20g|
|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
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