Healthy Habits - Switch it up: Go Whole Grain
Post Update: As I was transferring this post to the new site it gave me pause as I was only moments ago telling a client to limit his sugar and processed carbohydrate intake. Not all carbs are created equal. I think it is important to keep this in mind. I will include my review of his food journal in a following post. For those of you trying to improve your overall diet and your sources of energy rich carbs...read on.
We have all heard about the importance of eating whole grains. But why? What are they, really, and where do you find them??
Whole grains have ALL of the parts of the original kernel—bran, germ, and everything inside the seed. In refined grains, the bran and germ are stripped away removing most of the nutrients and health benefits.
According to recent studies - Women who consumed whole grain carbohydrates INSTEAD of white, processed ones, are 50% LESS likely to experience major weight gain (especially in the belly area) over time. Fifty percent! That alone is a pretty good reason to switch things up.
Whole grains contain a lot of nutrients, including protein, fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins and minerals that keep us healthy. These nutritional powerhouses help control blood sugar, lower LDL "bad" cholesterol and blood pressure.
The fiber in whole grains aids digestion, helps control weight and fills you up because they take longer to digest.
Nutritionists recommend having 3 servings of whole grains every day. Think one serving at each meal; breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don't worry, whole grains are easy to find in your local grocery and simple to prepare. What's great is they can be prepared ahead of time and then tossed into salads, soups or used as side dishes.
Some common examples of whole grains foods are:
"Whole grain" breads Brown or wild rice Bulgar Oats Quinoa Wheatberries
For some more ideas, search the bulk aisle of the grocery or look for Bob's Red Mill products.
The bread aisle can present a dizzying array of options. Sadly, it seems like the good old sandwich has become a villain. Luckily, it doesn't have to be.
Here are four easy tips to picking the right loaf (or bun, bagel, tortilla, etc.)
1. Read the ingredient list. Ingredients are listed by weight, so the first few are the most important.
2. The first ingredient should be whole-wheat grain flour or whole-wheat flour. If you see enriched wheat flour or simply wheat flour, put it back on the shelf. Those are nothing other than cover-up names for white flour.
3. Don't settle for less than 100%. Most bread is made with a mixture of whole-grain flour and less nutritious white flour. Even if the first ingredient in whole-wheat, scan the rest of the list to ensure than white-flour doesn't sneak in later.
4. Once you've got a truly 100% whole-grain loaf, check the Nutrition Facts for sugar - you want less than 2 grams per slice.
Don't like brown rice? I've heard it before. I say, it's not usually the rice that makes the dish, it's whats in it or piled on top. Ditching the white rice and going for nutrious brown can be easier on the palate when you spice it up some.
Try one of these three flavors…
1. Garlic and butter. Toss 3 cups brown rice with 1 TBSP butter and 1 Teaspoon Garlic Salt. (Yes, a little butter is OK)
2. Cilantro-Lime. To the same amount of rice, add 1/2 cup chopped cilantro,1 TBSP fresh lime juice, salt and pepper. (Great with grilled chicken)
3. Parmesan and Pine Nuts. Use about 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (easy to do in a low temp skillet), grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
OK. There you go. No excuses left! Want some more recipe ideas?? OK:-) I'll come up with a couple and share them soon. In the meantime, try my current obsession…if you know me you know I LOVE pumpkin. As soon as fall breezes in I wake up with a little something friends and family call - Remy's Pumpkin Mush. It's better than it sounds.
This makes 2 servings…eat them both yourself, go ahead! To round out a good plate, I eat mine with a hard boiled egg or I'll cook in two egg whites.
3 cups water
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 TBSP pumpkin-pie spice
2 TSBP chopped pecans, or walnuts
1-2 TBSP real maple syrup
Combine water, pumpkin, salt in sauce pan and bring to boil. Add oats and pis spice. When it starts to bubble up, turn down heat to low. Cook and stir for about 8 minutes, until oats are cooked and the mush gets as thick as you like. Serve with nuts, syrup and an egg. This is a good carb-rich meal to eat 3-4 hours before your workout. I'll use less oats if I'm not planning to workout and don't need the extra energy.
Fruit or Veg: Pumpkin Protein: Egg Smart Carb: Oats Heathy Fat: Nuts
About 350 cals, 9g fat, 60g carbs, 11g fiber, 10g protein.
OK - Speaking of workouts - Out the door I go! Enjoy and I'll be back with recipes soon.
Reference: Racing Weight Cookbook, Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear. IDEA Health and Fitness Association.