Other Whole Grains
You can add other whole grains to your menu to increase your use of whole grains. Your family’s initial reaction might be less than welcoming, but in time they’ll come around, and they might actually find that they like the whole grain foods better.
Barley – Barley is highest in fiber of all the whole grains because it’s fiber is located throughout the whole grain rather than just in the outer bran layer. Barley is also high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals essential to health and has more protein and is lower in carbohydrates than most other grains. Look for hulled barley or hulless barley to ensure you’re getting all of the whole grain benefits.
Cornmeal – Cornmeal is most likely the easiest whole grain to include in your diet because the flavor and consistency are not affected by whether the cornmeal is whole grain or not. Bascially, stone ground corn is whole grain and steel ground corn is not, so check the package labeling.
Millet – Millet is the leading staple grain in India, China, and the Himalayas. In addition to being cooked in its natural form, millet can be ground and used as flour to make flatbreads porridges, or prepared like polenta. Millet’s delicate flavor can be enhanced by toasting the dry grains before cooking.
Oats – Oats almost never have their bran and germ removed in processing, so if you see oats or oat flour on the label, you’re virtually guaranteed to be getting whole grain. Oats have a sweet flavor that makes them a favorite for breakfast cereals, but they are also an excellent substitute for bread crumbs in meat loaf or meatballs, resulting in a finished dish that is lower in carbohydrates. Oats are steamed and flattened to produce rolled oats, quick cooking oats, and Instant Oatmeal. The more oats are flattened and steamed, the quicker they cook – and the softer they become. Steel cut oats (a.k.a. Irish oats) consist of the entire oat kernel sliced into smaller pieces to fqacilitate the cooking process. Steel cut oats take a lot longer to cook, but the hearty, chewy texture and delicious oat flavor are more than worth the wait!
Rice – Getting your family, and sometimes yourself, switched from white rice to brown rice can be daunting, but if you convert gradually, they may not even notice until the conversion is complete. Start with, let’s say, 20% brown rice the first week, and replace 5% of the white rice with brown rice every week until you are serving 100% brown rice. Remember you need more water to cook brown rice, so increase your cooking water as you add more brown rice to the pot.
Rye – Rye is a hardy grain crop that grows more rapidly than wheat, can withstand submersion during floods, thrives during drought and will grow on soils too poor for other grains. Rye is especially popular in Northern and Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, where it is too cold or wet for wheat to grow dependably.
Pseudo-grains are plants that, although they are not true cereal grains, they produce fruits or seeds that are used and consumed as grains. Pseudo-grains are typically high in protein and other nutrients, gluten-free, and are considered whole grains.
Buckwheat – Although not technically a kind of wheat, buckwheat’s nutrients and nutty flavor have resulted in it being considered as a grain. Most people are familiar with buckwheat pancakes, but soba noodles and kasha are also made from buckwheat. Because it is seldom, if ever, processed, all buckwheat can considered whole grain.
Wild Rice – Also not technically a grain, wild rice is the seed of an aquatic grass that grows around the Great Lakes. Although there is some commercial cultivation of wild rice, most of it is still harvested by Native Americans in the Great Lakes area. Because of its strong flavor and high cost, it is most often blended with white or brown rice, or used as a delicious supplement to a stuffing or a salad. Wild rice is slightly higher in protein than most whole grains, and is not only a good source of fiber, but also of vitamins and minerals.
Quinoa – Once again not technically a grain, quinoa is originally from the Andes, where it has been cultivated by the indigenous population for over 3,000 years. Quinoa can be cooked into a light, fluffy side dish in about 10-12 minutes. It can also be incorporated into soups, salads and baked goods and is starting to appear in breakfast cereals and other processed foods. Quinoa is one of the very few plant foods that is a complete protein, offering all the essential amino acids. Though most quinoa is imported from South America, farmers in high-altitude areas near the Rockies are beginning to cultivate it. Quinoa is seldom, if ever, processed, so all quinoa may be considered whole grain.