Most of us are aware that wholegrain foods are better than their refined versions, however, when it comes to what constitutes ‘wholegrain’ we may not have a very clear idea. Wholegrain basically means grains that contain all portions of the seed head as it grows in nature —the germ, bran and endosperm. On the other hand, refined grains are those that start out as whole grains but are then stripped of all the germ and bran leaving only the endosperm, which is then ground into flour with a finer texture and lighter color. Wholegrain contain more fiber and protein, has a chewier texture and a delicious flavor when compared to their refined counterparts.
Here are a few ways to incorporate the goodness of whole grains into our regular cooking repertoire.
Substitute a portion of white flour for wholegrain in baked goods:
This is one of the easiest changes you can make in the kitchen: Swap out a portion of white or refined flour in favor of wholegrain flour, which tend not to be overly processed or stripped of the good bits. Although there is no hard-and-fast rule for how much you can substitute, it is generally a good idea to cap it at 50 percent. Anything more than that in a recipe calling for refined flour will turn out dense and heavy.
Add cooked grains to your favorite salads:
One of the healthiest ways to enjoy whole grains is to eat them whole. Bypass ground grains and flours for minimally processed options, like wheat berries, barley, spelt, and, of course, hearty brown rice. Make a simply-seasoned large batch early in the weekand use them throughout the week in lunchtime salads. Just a quarter-cup of cooked grains adds a chewy heft to greens and vegetables, similar to croutons but tastier and more nutritionally sound. To extract maximum flavor from your grains, cook them in a liquid that already has flavor. It is suggested you opt for stock or broth which contains some flavor rather than water which does not.
Use wholegrain instead of noodles in soup:
Almost everyone loves a bowl of hot chicken noodle soup. So instead of opting for a whole chicken noodle soup, try a bowl of hot chicken and barley soup. Using cooked wholegrain adds a satisfyingly chewy quality to the soup. Either simmer them with the broth as the rest of the ingredients cook, or stir in pre-cooked, large-batch grains in the last five minutes. Choose sturdy grains that hold their shape and structure when cooked. Farro, wheat and spelt berries, and barley are great options. Use the grains in addition to rib-sticking meats, or keep things lighter with veggies.
Start early with breakfast:
If oatmeal is your favorite breakfast dish, then you are halfway to a breakfast packed full of wholegrain. For morning meal success, apply the same basic principle of cooking oatmeal to any wholegrain: Simmer in a liquid (water, milk, coconut milk) with a pinch of salt. Remove from the heat when fully cooked. You will know it is done by taste (soft but not too mushy), and sight. The appearance will be similar to that of porridge. Wholegrains are naturally sweet, so give your porridge a try before doctoring it up with maple syrup, honey or brown sugar.