I hope you are enjoying the summer sun. Did you get out to the farmers market today? My friends Heather, Melissa and I visited the Trout Lake market in Vancouver and I can't wait to show you the result of our trip. Hopefully in a week or two...
For today, however, let's talk UnDiet. With all that gorgeous summer produce out there, the same old crackers or pasta just won't cut it. You need a worthy grain to show off next to those heirloom tomatoes. So this week's challenge is to try a new whole grain. While some of us still might view grains as unneccessary carbs, let me differentiate a true whole grain from mere starch.
When research on the health benefits of whole grains started surfacing, manufacturers responded by adding "whole grains" to their products. Across the supermarket, "made with whole grain!" shouted at you from breads, granola bars, cereals and even yogurts. This marketing classic can be very deceptive: made WITH whole grain doesn't mean 100%. There is no guarantee how much whole grain you are getting. Technically, a product can be considered a whole grain if it contains all three parts of the original grain: the endosperm, the germ and the bran.Looking for a food made from 100% whole grains is a step in the right direction; however, eating intact whole grains is not the same as eating sugary cereals, aka candy, with added fibre. However, you can then pulverize, gelatinize and puff up and sweeten the grain however you want to and still sell yourself as whole grain goodness. But whole grain Ritz crackers are not the same as cooking up some barley.
Intact, unprocessed whole grains are slowly digested, providing sustained energy that won't spike blood sugars. They are rich in minerals and vitamins and contain antioxidant phytochemicals. They also provide protein and fibre to help you feel satisfied. Most crackers, granola bars and pasta just spike your blood sugar and leave you hungry. Intact, unprocessed whole grains are a true superfood that are well worth the calories. They are also economical, great for any healthy eater on a budget.
For this week, go to your bulk bins or grains aisle and choose something you haven't cooked with before. Try barley as a base for risotto, black rice for a rich twist on traditional sushi, buckwheat toasted in a salad, amaranth sprinkled over berries and yogurt or even teff baked into a homemade granola bar. Teff??? Oh yes, get ready to be surprised by how many whole grains are out there that you haven't heard of before. Many grains cook up just like rice, but not all, so check out this cooking chart from dietitian Leslie Beck's website for water proportions and cooking time.
Note! Couscous is not a grain...it is a pasta. Ditto orzo. And buckwheat is not wheat.
I would love to hear how you used your grains this week....enjoy!