Did you know that eating whole grains not only gives you more fiber in your diet, but also reduces risk of diabetes and heart disease? And did you know that it can help you control your weight, too, by making you feel fuller and helping your body get rid of fat?
A great way to eat more Whole grains is to incorporate it as a side dish with dinner. Here are some great ideas that you can start doing tonight!
Serve no-worry brown rice in place of potatoes tonight
Yes, classic brown rice does require 45 minutes of cooking time, so you have to plan ahead a little. Make the cooking process easier by investing in a rice cooker (toss in rice and water and turn it on – no need to worry about burned pot!) or cook a big batch of brown rice on the weekend and freeze meal-size portions in zipper-seal freezer bags. Reheat in the microwave on weeknights.
Stock instant, boil-in-bag or quick-cooking parboiled brown rice, too.
These grains are cooked, then dried. Yes, they lose some texture along the way, but they retain most of even all of brown rice’s fiber and nutrients. Their stellar quality: They cook in 5 to 20 minutes, making this convenience food great as a once-in-awhile fallback. You can also cook up quick brown rice to use in place of the tub of white rice that comes with Chinese takeout.
Replace white rice in recipes with brown.
It works as well – or better – in chicken-and-rice dishes, stuffed cabbage, soups, and casseroles. You’ll love pudding made with brown rice, too, for its nutty flavor and chunky yet tender texture.
Shop for another great grain this week.
Other whole grains you may find in your grocery store or health food shop include amaranth, barley, kasha (buckwheat groats), couscous, millet, quinoa, wheat berries, and wild rice. Each has a unique flavor and texture. Try a new one each week. Give it the sniff test before purchasing to be sure the oils in the germ don’t have a stale, rancid odor. Refrigerate or freeze grains to retain freshness.
Keep a supply of fast-cooking favorites on hand.
We love pearled barley for its creamy texture, its 6 grams of fiber per cup (including cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber), and its fast cooking time: just 30 minutes. It’s a delicious side dish replacement for rice and gives soups and stews a soft, thick texture. Bulgur is just whole wheat that’s been steamed, dried, and cracked. Think of it as a whole-grain convenience food; it cooks in 2o minutes. Traditionally used for Middle Eastern tabbouleh (a salad with bulgur, tomatoes, cucumber, and parsley), it also makes a delicious side dish. Couscous is really a tiny-grained pasta made from wheat flour. The catch: Some is refined, some is whole wheat. Your assignment: Look for whole-grain couscous in the supermarket or natural foods store. It’s the fastest-cooking whole-grain product of them all: Just add boiling water and cover, and in 5 minutes, it’s ready to serve. Switching to whole-wheat couscous means getting 7 grams of fiber per serving, compared to just 2 grams in regular couscous.
Stir it in.
Add a half cup of cooking bulgur, wheat berries, brown or wild rice, or barley (not pearled) to stuffings, soups, stews, salads, or casseroles. Add a cooked whole grain item or whole grain bread crumbs to ground meat or poultry for extra body. Make risottos, pilafs, and other rice-type dishes using grains such as barley, brown basmati rice, bulgur, millet, quinoa, kasha, or sorghum.
Use your air popper for a high-fiber, low-fat snack. Each cup of air-popped popcorn has 1.2 grams of fiber (and just 31 calories) – and who can eat just 1 cup? Don't like just plain popcorn? Here are some great low fat recipes for Popcorn that you can use tonight.
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