Why Whole Grains? Meet the Other Family Members...

The Whole Grains Family (at least most of them…)

Meet the other members of the whole grain family!


This grain is slightly sticky, high in fiber & an essential amino acid, lysine


This grain is a distant cousin to rhubarb and is not related to wheat or other grains. Toasted and untoasted varieties can be used to make pilafs or casseroles in the same form as other grains.

Cracked wheat

This refers to wheat berries that have been cracked into small pieces.


This grain is a must for individuals following a wheat-free diet.  It is known for its good balance of essential amino acids. Try it with sautéed veggies or use it the next time you make risotto!

Pearled barley

This grain is popular in canned soups like Beef and Barley soup!  It maintains at least two thirds of the bran which makes is a nutrition superstar to add to salads, soups, stews, or chilis.


Everyone knows this grain!  Popcorn is corn with a hard protein outer layer with inner starch layers.

Rolled oats

These are the same oats you have in your morning bowl of oatmeal!  This grain is considered a good source of B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and iron.


Composed of high protein and low gluten level; easier to digest than other grains. Recommend pairing with beans.


This is a nutrition superstar because it resembles wheat, but contains 30% more protein and is more tolerated by wheat sensitive individuals.  Spelt also comes in flake form which can be used in the same manner as rolled oats.

Steel cut oats

These are whole grain groats (inner portion of an oat kernel ) which have been cut into 2-3 pieces  by steel  rather than being rolled. They’re chewy and make for a particularly rustic and delicious hot cereal.


Chewy, high protein grain. Most well known of the whole grain family.

Why Wheat Germ?

Why Wheat Germ?! It sounds as if it would only be found in health food stores and only consumed in bland, diet style foods, but wheat germ is a nutrition standout that everyone should consider incorporating into their intakes! It’s a small change, but you gain BIG health benefits! Wheat germ is one of three parts (bran, endosperm, germ) that make up a grain of wheat, which is the seed that is planted in fields to grow wheat grass.  The germ is the portion of a wheat grain that turns it into a plant by a process called germination.  Most of the wheat grain’s fat is found in wheat germ, which makes it the most nutrient-rich part of the grain.

Wheat germ is a great source of folic acid, which help prevent neural-tube birth defects in women of childbearing age.  Folic acid also has the ability to reduce levels of homocysteine which are linked to reducing risk of heart disease and osteoporosis bone fractures.  And finally, wheat germ contains a powerful antioxidant called L-ergothioneine that is not affected by cooking.  The fiber boost you get from wheat germ is unsurpassable.

Wheat germ is inexpensive and can be easily incorporated into your daily intake by adding it to breakfast cereals, oatmeal, bread and muffin recipes, pancake batter, casseroles, yogurt, homemade granola, or using as a replacement for bread crumbs in most recipes.  I recommend toasting the wheat germ before adding to recipes or sprinkling on food, to bring out the germ’s nutty, slightly sweet flavor that is not prominent in raw wheat germ.

Since wheat germ contains unsaturated fat, it can become rancid quickly if not stored properly. A jar of wheat germ typically has the shelf life of approximately one year.  Once the jar is opened, you should store your wheat germ in an air tight container in your refrigerator, or freezer if you would like a longer shelf life.  If you are uncertain if your wheat germ is fresh, you can test by smelling your wheat germ. Fresh wheat germ should smell similar to toasted nuts.

So the next time you sit down for breakfast or your in the kitchen trying a new recipe, consider adding the powerful nutrient packed wheat germ to your meal!