Monday, May 31, 2010

The Whole Grain Truth- Part 1

We see it every day we go to the grocery store, on crackers and cereal, even chips: "Made with Whole Grain". And we buy it, because it's healthier- hey, I'm part of the same crowd! I buy the cereal, and the crackers because I figure, if it's made with whole grain, it's healthier. It's brilliant marketing- and it helps us feel good about the things we are buying to keep our families (and ourselves) healthy.
But, unfortunately, they are not as healthy as they profess to be. Some crackers and cereals (most, generally) undergo complex processes to complete the final, tasty product. Some even contain ingredients like "partially hydrogenated oil", which totally cancels out any nutritional value it had going for itself in the first place! So, the next time you buy something made with whole grain consider this:
The definition of a whole grain is any cereal grain which contains bran and germ, as well as endosperm. Refined grains contain only the endosperm. All grains start out as a whole grain- a grain in its natural state, and remains a whole grain when, after milling, retains all 3 components of the grain. So, if the FIRST ingredient on the package of your crackers is "whole grain ____", you've made a healthy step in the right direction!

Now that we know the definition of whole grain, what are whole grains, you might ask?
When Sam and I were first married, our meals included some sort of meat, and rice or pasta, and a vegetable on the side. It was pretty habitual... for a while.
I don't know how or when it began, but slowly I began to experiment with grains. There are some grains I have yet to taste, but my palate, and enjoyment of food has increased much thanks to the wide variety of whole grains we have readily available to us now- most of us just don't know it. Here's a list of whole grains- see how many you have eaten, or might know of:
Amaranth
Barley
Buckwheat
Bulgur
Corn
Farro
Grano
Kamut
Millet
Oats
Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa)
Rice
Sorghum/ Milo
Spelt
Teff
Triticale
Wheat
Wild Rice
How did you do? I would say, if you are familiar with or have tried at least half of the grains on this list, you are doing well! Now, if you want to know more about each of these grains, here's a summary of each grain listed. There are also some recipes posted under the recipes link (thank you Malissa!). Enjoy discovering a new grain this week!

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One Step at a Time

"That which we persist in doing becomes easier. Not that the nature of the thing has changed, but the power to do has increased." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson