ask the nutritionist: day of whole grains

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that most Americans are lacking in the whole-grain department. But it really isn’t that hard to fit whole grains in your diet! It is recommended that we should be eating at least 3 servings of whole grains/day. I say there’s no reason that most of your grains can’t be whole ones.

Whole grains are nutritionally superior to their white counterparts for a number of reasons: they are higher in fiber and contain more nutrients; they reduce the risks of stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes; they can even help maintain weight among a number of other benefits.

Serving Sizes:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice or whole grain pasta
  • 1 slice whole grain bread
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup whole grain cereal
  • 1 small whole grain tortilla

A day of all whole grains may sound like a lot, but I promise you it isn’t! Start swapping whole grain bread for white; oats and whole grain cereals (like Barbara’s Shredded Oats and Kashi Go Lean) for sugary cereals and whole grain pasta for white. I know some of you aren’t “used” to whole grains, or may have spouses/kids who don’t “like” whole grains, but start incorporating them or using blends and before you know it, the swaps are painless! :)

While I eat mostly whole grains I still enjoy white baguettes, fresh white pasta and cookies from time to time. It’s all about what makes up most of your diet.  (For the record, I would never turn down fresh, homemade pasta.)

Here is what a days worth of whole grains looks like:

Breakfast: 1/2 cup oatmeal, prepared as directed. Try my apple cinnamon oats and get in a serving of fruits too! (1 serving)

Lunch: Brown rice – try my Brown Rice, BBQ Tofu & Kale (2 servings)

Dinner: Sesame Noodles (1 cup) with 2-3 cups mixed Asian veggies and 4 oz baked chicken. (2 servings)

Snack: Cheese and crackers. Mary’s Gone Crackers and Triscuits are two of my favorite 100% whole grain crackers! Paired with some cheese and you’ve got protein and fiber. My favorite food. :) (1 serving)

See, wasn’t that easy?

I’m a huge fan of mixing up the types of grains – so don’t limit yourself to wheat – try quinoa, sprouted breads, oats, millet, etc!  And there’s no issue in all of your carbohydrates/grains are “whole” ones. I do it all the time. :)

Visit the Whole Grains Council website for more information.

cincinnati chili

I’ve never had Cincinnati Chili before and it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve even been tempted to try.

But when Bon Appétit featured a story about different regional chili recipes, it wasn’t the Squash and Black Bean California-inspired Chili that caught my eye, it was the thinner Cincy Chili, customarily served over spaghetti that had me add chili to next weeks menu. Proud? Not exactly. But totally honest.

It was delicious. And although you may scoff at the idea of adding cocoa and cinnamon (like the Taster), I promise it doesn’t taste sweet. :) I wasn’t initially crazy about serving it over spaghetti, but with all of the appropriate toppings it was an amazingly filling meal. Best served with a salad.

Cincinnati Chili - 4 hearty servings - inspired by Bon Appétit

  • 2 white onions, chopped (reserve 1/2 – 1 cup for topping)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef (I used 90% lean)
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp hot chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 4 servings spaghetti (I used a quinoa/corn pasta)
  • shredded cheese for topping
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Chop onions and garlic. Don’t forget to reserve some onions for topping the chili.


Heat olive oil in large pot…… add onions; saute until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic; stir for about 1 minute.

Add ground beef; cook until brown, breaking into pieces, about 10 minutes.


Add all spices, apple cider vinegar and tomato paste. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.


Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about an hour.


Serving Options:

In Cincinnati, there are 5 different options for serving.

  1. Plain
  2. Two Way: Chili and Spaghetti
  3. Three Way: Chili, Spaghetti and Cheddar Cheese
  4. Four Way: Chili, Spaghetti, Cheddar Cheese and Onions
  5. Five Way: Chili, Spaghetti, Cheddar Cheese, Onions and Kidney Beans

But in my house, the Five Way is the only way to go. I just can’t imagine it any other way.

The real question is fork or spoon? We went with forks but any Cincy people know what it is served with? Or does it depend on how you order it?

in my cupboard: bionaturae egg pasta

It’s not often that I would feature a white flour pasta…I rarely even buy pasta made with white flour. I’m a whole wheat kind of girl. :) Not to mention a Nutritionist, remember??

But this bionaturae traditional egg pasta just looks special. I know I bought it with something in mind, but a few months passed and finally it made it into a spaghetti & meatball dinner. Dare I say that it reminded me of home-made pasta?

My inexperienced fresh pasta palate, probably shouldn’t make that comparison. But I swear it came close.

Now I just have all the more reason to buy this pasta again. And even though it’s made with white flour it actually has a decent amount of protein (7 grams per serving) and I told you that it tastes amazing, right?

For a simple meal, I tossed some of the pasta with pesto and parmesan and let me just say…go get some. :)

asian spaghetti & meatballs

Meals like this just make me happy.

It’s healthy but filling; comforting but exciting; delicious but simple. The meatballs are flavored with a classic Korean sauce, the pasta tossed with a simple dressing of toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. It’s the perfect combination lean protein, whole grains and vegetables and the ultimate in clean eating.

Asian Spaghetti & Meatballs - 4 servings

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Gochujang sauce
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko
  • 8 oz brown rice noodles (I used Brown Rice Mai Fun sent to me by Annie Chun’s)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce

Combine chicken, peppers, green onion, gochujang sauce and panko.

Mix until just combined.

Form into little balls and place in muffin tins. (I used a mini muffin tin)

Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare noodles as directed and toss with sesame oil and soy sauce.

Top noodles with meatballs and serve with sriracha or additional gochujang if desired.

Veggies for the meal were sautes of bok choy and snow peas with peppers.