We’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers and healthy eating advocates to host a Healthy Every Week Challenge, a month-long initiative to develop healthy eating habits. The plan an is to develop a manageable healthy habit each week that will carry through the new year. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #gethealthy.
If you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet, chances are a good portion of your plate is already made up of grains. But the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that at least half of all the grains you eat are whole grains. What’s so special about whole grains? They’re naturally packed with high amounts of fiber, and micro-nutrients like folic acid, magnesium, and vitamin E. All grains are low in fat and cholesterol free, and they typically have between 5-10 grams of protein per cup, which is great new for those of us following a plant-based diet. All that fiber and protein in whole grains helps to fill us up and keep us satisfied, making them great for weight management. Better yet, they’ve been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
Many people unnecessarily shy away from whole-grains because they’re intimidated by less common varieties like triticale, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah, which is actually from the seed family), bulgur and barley or aren’t sure how to cook them. But it’s easier than ever to get more whole grains in your diet – even if you don’t cook! Many food companies are catching on to the whole-grain trend and are selling pre-cooked whole grains, like Uncle Bens Whole-Grain Brown Ready Rice, Amy’s Frozen Steel Cut Oats, or Trader Joe’s prepared Multigrain Pilaf. Cooking them from scratch is simple, too. Usually all it takes is a 2:1 ratio of water to whole grain on the stove-top, cooked just like you would make rice. Here are some easy (and tasty!) ways to get more whole grains into every meal and snack of your day:
- Whole wheat pancakes with nutty topping
- Steel cut oats with dried fruit and nuts
- Whole grain cereal (like mini-wheats or Uncle Sam) with fruit and low fat milk
- Whole wheat toast topped with peanut butter and banana slices
- Egg and salsa breakfast burrito wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla
- Hummus and roasted veggie panini on whole-wheat bread
- Minestrone soup made with whole wheat pasta
- Brown rice and bean burrito or soft tacos wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla
- Personal pizza with veggies on a whole wheat pita
- Spinach Artichoke Pizza on whole-wheat crust
- Kale and Mushroom “Risotto” using old fashioned oats
- Lemon Basil Bulgur (no cooking necessary!)
- Quinoa with Apricots, Almonds and Asparagus
- Butternut Squash, Barley and Kale Stew
- Whole wheat crackers like Triscuits and hummus
- Homemade whole wheat tortilla chips with salsa or guacamole
- Coconut Brown Rice Pudding
TELL US: How are you going to get more whole grains in your diet this year?
Janel Ovrut Funk, MS RD LDN, loves experimenting with vegetarian and vegan cooking. Read her food blog, Eat Well with Janel, and follow her on Twitter @DietitianJanel. Catch up on her previous posts here.