notes from maggie's farm
The USDA Dietary Guidelines suggest consuming at least three or more one-ounce servings of whole grains every day, depending on age and gender. For small children, 3-5 ounces, women, 5-6 ounces, and for men, 6-8 ounces are recommended.
Why whole grains?
"For starters, (baking with) whole grains gives you and your family more nutritition in every bite. A whole grain has three edible part--the endosperm, germ, and bran. Each part contributes one or more essential components of a healthy diet.The endosperm, or inner part of the kernel, is basically a carbohydrate, which we need for energy. The germ is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with B vitamins, Vitamin E, zinc, iron, copper, selenium and magnesium. The germ also contains phytochemicals, which is consumed regularly, may help reduce the risk of developing cancer or cardiovascular disease. The bran, or outer layer of the kernal, provides necessary dietary fiber."
"Whole grains can play a role in weight control, as they fill you up more than refined grains, according to a 2003 Harvard School of Public Health study. Researchers found that women who ate more whole grains consistently weighted less than those who chose refined grains. Whole grains take longer to digest, so they keep you feeling fuller, longer. If you're not hungry, you're not as tempted to nibble, and this helped women in the study maintain their weight." (Hodgson Mill Whole Grain Baking, 2007)
Taking longer for digestion to occur, conversion of starch to sugar is slowed, preventing spikes in blood sugar that can lead to insulin resistance - a major driver of obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
From Dr. Andrew Weil, Balanced Living
Cooking with Whole Grains
General tips on cooking with whole grains:
- For most grains, rinse prior to cooking to remove any debris (rolled oats and kasha are exceptions). It's particularly important to rinse quinoa, which has soap-like components called saponins that can taste bitter and have a laxative effect. To rinse, place in a bowl of cold water and swish around with your fingers, refilling the water once or twice. Drain in a fine-meshed strainer.
- To reduce cooking time for longer-cooking grains, pre-soak them for a few hours or overnight (with the exception of quinoa, which has a bitter coating that can be absorbed if soaked; rinse quinoa briefly instead).
- Except where stirring or uncovering is suggested, don’t remove the lid while cooking grains, as it disrupts the steaming process.
- If you are watching your sodium intake, feel free to cook your grains in unsalted water. Otherwise, one-fourth teaspoon of sea salt goes a long way (add salt when you combine grain and water in the pot). Alternatively, try using vegetable broth as the cooking liquid, or for a more exotic flavor, a 50/50 mixture of water and juice. You can even add a splash of wine or dried herbs.
- It’s generally a good idea to purchase grains in bulk, except where otherwise noted. Some grains such as rice and oats are found at typical supermarkets, but you will have better luck finding more obscure grains, such as teff and amaranth, at your local natural foods store. For all grains, opt for organic varieties from the bulk bins of health food stores whenever possible - they have higher turnover rates, which improves the likelihood of freshness.
- Store in tightly sealed containers in the pantry (or another cool, dry, dark place). Even better: store in the refrigerator if you have room. Unless otherwise noted, properly stored grains can last up to one year.
The grain-by-grain guide below offers everything you need to know about cooking with whole grains, including historical and cultural heritage, common varieties, nutritional value, storage tips, healthful recipes, and standard cooking instructions. Try these grains as part of a healthy diet plan: