Get the new year off to a healthy start by incorporating more whole grains into your diet this month! A whole grain contains three parts — the bran, germ, and endosperm. Refined grains are those that 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, bulgar, buckwheat, barley, freekeh, 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!
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-ounce 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/almond butter!
(Recipe by Gabrielle Chronister)
Ava Castro is the Farm to School Educator for Island preschools and M.V. Public Charter School.