Harvest of the Month: Whole grains

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Many refined grains are “enriched” which means the protein and vitamins have been added back in artificially, but the healthier option is to eat grains whole, as they exist in nature. Courtesy Ava Castro.

We know whole grains are healthy for us, but what actually makes them different from refined grains? A whole grain contains three parts — the bran, germ, and endosperm. Refined grains have had the bran and germ removed, which also removes most of the protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals from the grain. Many refined grains are “enriched,” which means the protein and vitamins have been added back in artificially, but the healthier option is to eat grains whole, as they exist in nature.

Eating whole grains doesn’t have to be boring. Try using half whole wheat flour and half white in your favorite cookie and muffin recipes. Make a pot of quinoa and mix it with red onion, corn, and your favorite beans and vegetables for a protein-packed snack or side dish. Some other popular grains are brown rice, bulgur, buckwheat, barley, rye, and oats. Check labels while shopping, and make sure “whole grain” is near the top of the ingredients list.

This month, try our featured recipe, overnight oats!

Overnight Oats
Recipe by Gabrielle Sullo

½ cup whole rolled oats
½ cup milk of your choice (dairy, almond, coconut, soy)
1 tsp. maple syrup, or you can mash ½ banana to replace sweetener
⅛ tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a coffee mug or 8 oz. Mason jar and mix with a spoon until everything is combined. Cover with a lid and place in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to eat, give it one last stir and top with your favorite fixings.

Topping ideas: cinnamon, fresh fruit, shredded coconut, dried berries, dollop of nut butter or yogurt, lemon zest, plain cooked quinoa for some extra protein and fiber.

Tip: Use the last of your favorite nut butter jar as the container to make sure to use up all that hard-to-get peanut or almond butter.

Ava Castro is preschool coordinator for Island Grown Schools.