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Great Grains


By Melanie Peters   |   March 04, 2014

The latest buzz in healthy eating can be summed up in two words: whole grains.  A lot of your favorite foods are now touting their whole grain pedigree. From breakfast cereals to frozen pizzas to your favorite snack cake, “whole grain” has become a celebrated part of the label landscape.

But what exactly are whole grains and why should we be eating them?

The answer can be summed up in two other words: insoluble fiber.


Fiber, or more specifically dietary fiber, is either soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It’s found in foods like apples, bananas and legumes. Insoluble fiber, which is found in whole grains, doesn’t dissolve. It provides necessary bulk to your diet, aiding digestion and inhibiting constipation.

But there’s more to insoluble fiber than maintaining healthy bowels. According to the American Heart Association, diets high in insoluble fiber are associated with lower cardiovascular risks and for slowing the progression of cardiovascular disease in high risk groups.

Eating a fiber-rich diet can also help you cut calories as fiber-rich foods help you feel fuller, faster.

Grains are considered whole when the entire grain – bran, germ and endosperm are left intact. Refined grains (think white flour or white rice) remove the bran and germ and thus most of the fiber. Many refined grains are enriched with vitamin B and iron, but once the fiber has been removed, it can’t be added back. To get the best bang for your fiber buck, skip the refined and enriched route and go straight to whole grain.

The good news is that adding whole grains to your diet doesn’t have to be boring.  Markets are beginning to stock greater varieties of whole grains, way beyond the usual wheat. Grains like quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), farro and spelt are becoming readily available.

Here are three recipes ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner to help you get more fiber into your diet. Give these whole grains a try and taste the buzz.

quinoa cucumber salad
Breakfast: Banana spelt muffins
You’ll be off to a great start with one of these delicious muffins. The bananas and pecans are also great sources of dietary fiber.  

Lunch: Quinoa and cucumber salad
Quinoa is chewy, nutty and versatile. This refreshing salad is easy to make and can go from a light meal to side dish in a snap.

Dinner: Farro soup with kale and cannellini
Use canned cannellini beans to decrease the cooking time on this hearty soup or swap with red kidney beans to add more color.