Are grains part of a healthy diet? Yes! While grain-free may be trending, your body needs the nutrients and fiber found in whole grains to keep your body running smoothly, from your digestion to your blood sugar to your heart health.
But making the switch from refined grains to whole grains can be a little intimidating. There are so many whole grain varieties! Are they all prepared the same way? Are they interchangeable in recipes? Fret not, because we’re here to show you how to make delicious whole grains at home, every time.
Did you know plant-based nutrition experts suggest getting 75-80% of your calories from whole carbohydrates, like whole grains? For the carb-phobic, this can be jarring! Won’t eating this many grains lead to weight gain and unregulated blood sugars? Not when you’re eating whole grains!
Whole grains (and whole carbohydrates, in general), are a whole different beast than the refined versions we see in unhealthy processed foods.
What’s the difference between the two? Fiber and nutrients, baby! Unlike refined grains (white bread, white rice, cookies, crackers, white pasta, etc.), are stripped of these. Whole grains like wheat, corn, brown rice, oats, barley, bulgur, quinoa, and farro are unprocessed so their fiber and nutrients are still intact. This is a big deal, especially the fiber piece.
Fiber adds bulk to our diet keeping us full longer and regulating our blood sugar. A high fiber diet aids in healthy weight loss, lowers cholesterol, keeps bowels regular, and reduces the risk of serious chronic illness like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
But most folks aren’t eating enough fiber-rich foods like whole grains; some studies suggest 97% of Americans are fiber-deficient! Let’s fix that...by cooking up some delicious grains.
Have a few meals with crunchy brown rice turned you off from whole grains altogether? We get it! But we’re here to tell you whole grains aren’t just nutritious, they’re delicious, too...when cooked right! We’ve outlined easy peasy cooking instructions for some of our favorite whole grains.
Brown rice is white rice before it’s processed, so it’s a great swap for any recipe that calls for white rice. Brown rice has a fluffy texture and a mild nutty flavor. It’s also high in nutrients like fiber, protein, potassium, and manganese (important for bone development and blood sugar regulation).
How to cook brown rice:
Our favorite ways to enjoy brown rice:
A variation of whole wheat, bulgur cooks quickly so it’s perfect for the busy grain eater.
How to cook bulgur:
Our favorite ways to enjoy bulgur:
Chewy, nutty, and a little sweet, farro is an ancient grain with lots of fiber and protein so fuel up at lunchtime!
How to cook farro:
Our favorite ways to enjoy farro:
Stay full (and happy) all morning long when you start your day with oats. Shy away from pre-packaged and flavored varieties as they tend to be high in processed sugar. Go for rolled oats (also called old-fashioned oats) or steel cut instead. They’re cheap and super easy to prepare.
How to cook rolled oats:
How to cook steel cut oats:
Our favorite ways to enjoy oatmeal:
Did you know quinoa’s actually a seed, not a grain? Technicalities aside, we’re going to keep this gluten-free option on the list because it’s a great source of plant-based protein, calcium, and vitamin E. Not to mention it’s mild flavor means it works well with all sorts of plant-based recipes!
How to cook quinoa:
Our favorite ways to enjoy quinoa:
Look at you, discovering new healthy foods! To sum it up: