Gabrielle Mayfield, Wellness Screening Technician
The recommendations are out, and the 2015 guidelines are sticking with “make at least half your grains whole.” For some this may be a daunting task, but the benefits of whole grains are sure to start persuading folks to take this recommendation seriously. Choosing a diet that is high in whole grains can help improve blood glucose levels, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Let’s not forget to mention that whole grains are high in dietary fiber giving you a feeling of fullness. Whole grains can help you to consume fewer calories and play an important role in healthy weight management. Whole grains provide several key nutrients including dietary fiber, many B vitamins, iron, folate, magnesium, and selenium. That’s a whole lot of good nutrition! What about enriched grains, you ask? Well contrary to popular belief all of those key nutrients in the bran and germ that are milled during the refining process are not added back. It is important to remember that you should be incorporating as many quality grains in your diet. Strive to include more for intact grains, like rice, oats, quinoa, popcorn and barley in your diet. These types of grains have had little to no processing. Sadly, replacing a refined cookie with a cookie that says “now made with whole grains” really isn’t helping to improve health.
Okay, so now that you know intact grains are the best, you may find yourself asking, “how do I include more into my daily diet?” Let’s start with breakfast, oatmeal has been a staple breakfast food, and can be prepared in many different ways. You could try a fruit filled oatmeal bake, or get adventurous and go for overnight oats! Moving on to lunch and dinner, brown rice is an inexpensive way to include whole grains in to your daily diet. Create a brown rice and beans dish for a Mexican twist, or try a brown rice stir-fry to add some Asian flare to your weekly menu. Now that you know the benefits and you have a few different meal ideas; remember when you head to the grocery store to look for the American Heart Association Certified product symbol (see below). This symbol means the product is limited in saturated and trans fats, sodium, and sugars. The symbol also lets the consumer know the product does not contain hydrogenated oils and more than half the grains used to manufacture the product are whole grains. So now that you’re ready to go out and start exploring the world of whole grains just keep in mind the correct serving sizes;
• 1 slice whole-grain bread (such as 100% whole-wheat bread)
• 1 cup ready-to-eat, whole-grain cereal
• 1⁄2 cup cooked whole-grain cereal, brown rice, or whole-wheat pasta
• 5 whole-grain crackers
• 3 cups unsalted, air-popped popcorn
• 1 6-inch whole-wheat tortilla
All of these listed are the equivalent of one serving or one ounce of whole grains. Just to give you that extra push here is a flavorful oatmeal bake recipe that you can make ahead for the week, or enjoy it at a larger family brunch! For more information please visit www.heart.org
Baked Blueberry Coconut Oatmeal
Baked oatmeal with blueberries and coconut is a great morning treat. Make a big pan to feed a crowd or to reheat during the week for an easy healthy breakfast!
Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups skim milk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 square baking dish and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, coconut, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, coconut oil, and vanilla. The coconut oil might get a little lumpy, but that is ok. It will melt when baking.
4. Arrange two-thirds of the blueberries on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Pour the oat mixture evenly over the berries. Pour the milk mixture over the oats. Gently shake the baking dish to make sure the milk covers the oats evenly. Sprinkle the remaining blueberries on top of the oats.
5. Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden and oatmeal is set. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.
Note-this baked oatmeal is great reheated in the microwave. We like to add a splash of milk!
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This delicious recipe brought to you by Two Peas & Their Pod