Grains may very well be one of the most confusing food groups. Some say eat them they’re good for you others say avoid them like the plague. So which is it? Are they good or are they bad? The simple answer is both. It all depends on the type of grain.
Grains, in general, are getting a bad rap because so many people are consuming the bad ones composed of refined carbohydrates. We’re talking about your sugary cereals, donuts, white bread, cookies, and many other types of junk food. These are the grains that are known to help you pack on the pounds and increase your risk of many health issues.
So is there such thing as a healthy grain? Yes, they are called unprocessed whole grains. It turns out many people don’t know what an unprocessed whole grain is. I’m sure you can walk into the supermarket and find a variety of foods labeled “whole grain” but did you know that a product labeled “whole grain” can contain as little as 1% of whole grains? Just because a product is labeled “whole grain” doesn’t mean it is whole grain. In fact, many of the products labeled “whole grain” contain processed ingredients including high fructose corn syrup, sugar, preservatives, and additives. How confusing is that?
When we say, whole grains can benefit your health we are talking about foods made up entirely of unprocessed whole grains. Not the “whole grain” foods made up of a hodgepodge of whole grains and other highly processed ingredients.
Exactly what are the benefits of consuming whole grains? They add nutrients to our diet. While each grain has a different nutrient profile, you will find that unprocessed whole grains are loaded with a variety of vitamins and minerals. With that, it takes our bodies a little while to digest whole grains which helps control blood sugar. These nutrient-packed slow burners are also high in fiber which we know is very helpful in maintaining healthy digestion. Not to mention, they are very tasty and keep you fueled longer than most foods.
So what are some of these mysterious healthy unprocessed whole grains we speak of? Chances are you are familiar with a few of them.
- Quinoa: Quinoa has a great nutty flavor and tastes great on its own. You can use it to stuff vegetables, add to salads, or eat for breakfast. It goes wonderfully with a fried egg on top or as a substitute for oatmeal.
- Steel Cut Oats: Steel cut oats are famous for making overnight oats, the perfect grab and go healthy cold cereal.
- Millet: Millet makes a great breakfast porridge, addition to a salad, or stuffing for a winter squash or mushroom.
- Amaranth: Amaranth is a wonderful substitute for oatmeal. It is also a perfect addition to salads and side dishes.
- Teff: Teff is very versatile. It goes wonderfully with vegetables, salads, soups, and casseroles.
We know it can be very intimidating to cook new foods. Have no fear; these grains are as easy to prepare as rice. In fact, you can cook many of them in a rice cooker! If you do a simple search on Google or Pinterest, you will find all sorts of delicious recipes to follow. Until then, here is one of our favorite overnight steel cut oats recipes.
Blueberry Coconut Overnight Oats
- 2 cups milk of your choice (almond, hemp, coconut…)
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- ½ cup of blueberries
- ¼ cup of coconut flakes
- Optional 2 tbs chia seeds
- Optional tbs honey
- Dash of cinnamon
Combine all of the ingredients in a mason jar or any other glass jar with a lid. Stir, close the lid and refrigerate overnight.
Bonus: add some chopped nuts in the morning for a little crunch.
So what do you think? Whole grains, are they good or bad for you? Our vote at New Earth is good for you.