A whole grain is different than a refined grain in that it contains not only the endosperm but also the bran and the germ of a grain. A refined grain has been milled and the bran and germ are removed. Within the bran and germ of a whole grain are many important nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, iron and magnesium. These nutrients feed and satisfy the body, making it run more smoothly.
Be sure to check labels for just how much whole grain is in a product. Often times marketing makes it difficult to discern between what is actually a nutrient dense product and what has just a small amount of what you are looking for. Be leery of highly processed foods that claim to be a ‘good source of whole grains’ such as sugar cereals, pop tarts or chips. If sugar is the first ingredient in the product, it most likely is not a great source of whole grain and not a nutrient dense food.
Here is a list of common whole grains:
Take the whole grain challenge and make half your grains whole. An easy place to start is to switch out brown rice for white rice or whole grain bread for white bread. Below is a recipe to try that is great for a dinner side or snack. It is especially yummy when made with locally grown produce.
1 lb (3 cups) Bulgur
3 cups Water
2 lbs (1 qt) Fresh tomatoes, unpeeled, diced
15 oz (2 cups) Fresh cucumbers, peeled, seeded, diced
1 ½ oz (1 ½ cup) Fresh Parsley
6 oz (1 cup) Onions, diced
2 Tbsp Fresh mint, chopped
¼ tsp Cumin, ground
½ Tbsp Salt
¾ cup Lemon juice
¼ cup Vegetable oil
- Combine bulgur and boiling water in a large bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes or until water is absorbed. Do not drain.
- Add tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, onions, mint and cumin to the bulger.
- For dressing, combine salt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil.
- Add dressing to salad and toss to combine all ingredients.
- Chill or serve at room temperature.
Note: This recipe makes a large batch, consider halving.