Today I want to talk about the importance of whole grains in your diet. I want to just highlight some of the benefits of whole grains and talk a little about how to get them into your diet more.
John was already familiar with whole grains when we met. While in the navy, he campaigned to get whole wheat bread as an option in the mess hall and accomplished it. I, on the other hand, was not familiar with them. Growing up, our family ate white bread, pasta, crackers, biscuits, and of course cakes, cookies, and donuts. It was all we knew. Store shelves were not lined with whole grain options like they are now.
I suffered from severe constipation as a child and teen. Sometimes I would go for days without a bowel movement. I was terrified of cheese, thinking it was the cause of my agony. My parents told me this was pretty common and that people in our extended family just had a digestive issues. I believed it was a genetic matter over which I had no control.
Then I married John. He wanted to buy whole wheat bread. He wanted me to cook with whole grain flours, fix whole wheat pasta and cook with brown rice. It was a little bit of a learning curve because at first I had no one to guide me. Now whole grains are common fare at our house and we couldn’t imagine eating any other way.
Why You should make the switch
The first thing I noticed when I started consuming whole grains was that my digestive problems were a thing of the past. That’s because whole grains contain fiber. Fiber absorbs fat and liquid. It makes things pass through the digestive tract easier. It reduces the risk of constipation, hemorrhoids, and colon cancer.
But that’s not the only thing whole grain does. Whole grains are packed with b vitamins, protein, antioxidants, and minerals. They reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. They lower LDL cholesterol. Refined grains have the bran and the the germ removed to extend shelf life, but this also removes most of the nutrients in the grain. The government mandated replacing some of these nutrients in flour because people began suffering from the effects of vitamin deficiencies.
What Are Whole Grains
Whole grains are the seeds of grasses cultivated for food. They are sometimes called cereal grains. Whole grain has all of the parts of the original kernel; the bran, the germ, and the endosperm in the original proportions. How many whole grains are there? The list is quite impressive and I don’ t know that my list is exhaustive. These are the ones that I know about and are available in the United States.
Whole grain corn, whole oats, steel cut oats, and oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice, whole grain barley, wild rice, buck wheat, triticale, bulgar, millet, quinoa, Rye, sorghum, whole wheat.
Using Whole Grains
So, Now that we know what whole grains are and a little about why they are important in our diet, the next question is How do I use them? Breakfast is a good place to start. Steel cut oats and easy and filling. I always feel full for a long time after a bowl of oats especially if I have it with fruit and yogurt or milk. You can also substitute brown rice for white rice pretty painlessly. Add hulled, not pearled, barley to your soup and make whole wheat pancakes.
But the best way I know of to add whole grains to your diet is to have a grain mill and grind your own flour. Its so easy, really. We grind popcorn for our cornmeal, wheat for our flour, and even rice to make rice flour. Some grain mills can also make cracked grains that are great for a variety of breakfasts.
Get A Grain Mill
We carry two different grain mills in our store. The Nutrimill Classic and the Harvest Mill.These are both very high quality mills. Both will grind grain from coarse to fine, but the harvest mill will also grind extra coarse to make a nice breakfast cereal.
Additionally, our grain mills will also grind beans and legumes into flour. This is a good choice for thickeners that are not wheat based. Grinding dried split peas also makes a flour that makes instant split pea soup. This is a really smooth soup when cooked with your favorite broth.
The nice thing about having your own grain mill is that you can have FRESH flour when you want it in the amounts that you need it. Fresh flour has all of the nutrients of the grain. The taste is amazing. Store bought flour, even whole grain flour, just can’t compare to fresh flour ground in your own kitchen.
A Special Announcement
I am not allowed to disclose any details yet, but I happen to know that our supplier is making a very special announcement early next week that will make this a very good time to get your own grain mill if you are considering purchasing one. Even without the announcement though, a grain mill is a very good investment in your families health. We use our’s almost every day, and we love it.
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