I have a nutrition challenge for you guys this week! I know, it’s a nerdy thing to bring to you, but you can always count on me to bring you nerdy nutrition things. That’s what I’m here for!
This post was created in partnership with General Mills Big G Cereals as part of their #ButFirstWholeGrain Challenge. Thank you for supporting the brands that help support A Nutritionist Eats.
As you already know, September is back to school month on anutritionisteats.com, but it’s also National Whole Grains Month, and the perfect time to talk all about whole grains. There tends to be some mystery around whole grains: what qualifies as a whole grain, why are they good for us, and how can I eat them in a way that doesn’t taste like cardboard? I get it. And because I always try to be realistic, I would never recommend that you aim for perfection, but aim for better than where you are now! Unfortunately, most of us are eating far too many refined grains, and not nearly enough whole ones. So we all have room for improvement – myself included!
What are whole grains?
Simply put, whole grains haven’t been refined and broken apart (corn, oats, wheat, etc.). Grains kernels have three parts: endosperm, bran, and germ. When grains are refined, they include only the endosperm portion.
What makes whole grains healthy?
When grains are kept whole, they retain the substantial amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins and nutrients found in the bran and germ. Because of this, whole grains have a number of health benefits such as helping to prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. And in the more immediate future, they are a good source of protein, fiber and an array of nutrients. I also like to eat mostly “wholesome” foods which I define as foods that are as close to their natural state as they can be. Recommendations are to consume at least 48 grams of whole grains per day (which is about 3-5 servings per day for adults depending on the type of grain and the serving size), yet 99% (Food Pattens Equivalents Intakes by Americans: What We Eat in America, NHANES 2013-2014) of us aren’t meeting this recommendation. Which brings us to…
How do I add more whole grains into my diet?
Now that we have a little background, it’s time to start eating more whole grains! I challenge you to add more whole grains into your diet every day – and my hope is that you’ll see how easy and delicious it is to maintain. Below, I’ll share some ideas with you on how to incorporate whole grains at every meal throughout the day, and I’d also love to hear how you eat them with your family.
Breakfast: Breakfast is such an easy way to eat whole grains effortlessly! Most mornings Demi snacks on cereal first thing in the morning, and Cheerios are one of our favorite cereals because they’re made with whole grain oats and low in sugar. No prep, just pour and top with some whole milk. (Or serve a little bowl of cereal and a sippy cup of milk for snacking.) All General Mills Big G cereals have whole grain as the first ingredient, so you know you’re starting off the day with whole grains!
1 serving of cheerios + milk + banana
Lunch: While sandwiches and wraps are great opportunities to add whole grains, snack plates are so much more fun and so easy to throw together!
1 serving whole grain crackers + 1 oz cheese + 3 oz deli turkey + veggies and dip + fruit
Snack: If your family needs a little convincing when it comes to whole grains, this snack/treat would be hard to resist! Combine Cheerios with your favorite nut butter, honey and some chopped nuts for a sweet treat that’s full of whole grains, protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
- ½ cup chopped peanuts
- 3 cups Cheerios
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup peanut butter
- optional: hemp or chia seeds
- In a large bowl, combine Cheerios and peanuts.
- Prepare 9x11 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Combine honey and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30-60 seconds, until hot.
- Stir together and pour over cereal mixture.
- Stir until cereal is coated and press into prepared dish.
- Sprinkle with hemp or chia seeds if desired.
- Refrigerate for 2 hours. Cut into
Dinner: While cooked whole grains like brown rice, farro, or quinoa might not be standard breakfast or lunch material, dinner is the perfect time to serve them. They always make a great side dish to protein and veggie dinner, but these easy UN-stuffed peppers incorporate them right into the main dish and check all of my dinner boxes: protein, fats, fiber, and vegetables. Oh, and TASTY!
- ½ white onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 small red peppers (12 oz)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 16 oz ground beef
- 2.5 cups marinara sauce
- 4 cups cooked brown rice
- 4 Tablespoons parmesan cheese
- Prepare rice
- Prepare veggies: chop onion; mince garlic; remove stems and seeds from peppers, thinly slice, and then cut slices in half.
- Heat large saute pan over medium high heat.
- Add olive oil to pan and when hot, add onions.
- Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring.
- Add garlic and ground beef to pan and stirring occasionally, cook for about 5-6 minutes, until beef is cooked through.
- Add peppers and cook for about 6-7 minutes, until peppers have softened.
- Add marinara sauce and bring to a simmer.
- Lower heat and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Serve over brown rice and top with parmesan cheese.
I hope that I’ve inspired you to see how easy whole grains can be! Now you tell me, how will you add more whole grains into your meals?