whole grains

Enhance Your Health with Snacks!

Snacks can enhance, rather than hurt your diet, with proper portions and healthy food choices in place. A snack can be considered a "mini meal" that will help you have a healthy lifestyle!

Food fulfills three basic needs:

(1) To provide energy

(2) To support new tissue growth and tissue repair

(3) To help regulate metabolism


The Benefits of Snacking

  • Binge control. You have more control over your hunger cues when you add snacks into your daily intake.  By eating every 3-4 hours, you are preventing your hunger cue to move beyond your control.
  • Extra energy and nutrients. A grab-and-go snack can be the difference between some nourishment and lack of energy.
  • Control Hunger Pangs. Helps keep your hunger levels down to a minimum and avoid feeling deprived.
  • Control Insulin Levels. Helps keep you blood sugar levels even.
  • Maintains Increased Metabolism. Waiting too long in between meals may cause your metabolism to become sluggish

Choosing Healthy Snacks

  • Select foods that satisfy your hunger, supply your body with energy and provide important nutrients.
  • Even if your main meals are well balanced, it’s easy to put your total diet out of balance with a few poor choices or lack of choices in snacks.
  • The most important thing to be aware of is the type of foods you’re snacking on. It’s wise to allow no more than 10% of your total day’s calorie intake from saturated fat, or sugar items.
  • Remember, one or two well chosen snacks can actually help to improve your day’s total nutritional intake.
  • Opt for snacks of 200 – 250 calories to stay within meal plan goals.  Your caloric goal for snacks is dependent upon your activity level and current food routine. Great options for snacks usually come from these food groups:
  • Fruits and vegetables. Eating fruits and vegetables provides a feeling of fullness.  Fruits and vegetables also provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. When paired with a protein, dairy, and/or fat source, it is a complete snack!
  • Whole grains. Whole-grain snacks are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which give you energy with staying power. Look for items such as whole-grain crackers, whole-grain pretzels and whole-grain crispbreads.
  • Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds provide protein, so you will feel fuller longer. They can be high in fat, but it's mostly monounsaturated, a healthy kind of fat.
  • Low-fat dairy products. Cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein, plus many other vitamins and minerals. Dairy products can be high in saturated fat, so choose the low-fat versions.

Why Whole Grains? Learn Proper Storage & How to Purchase

Reading the Nutrition Label:

Don’t be fooled by the color of bread! Just because it’s brown does not mean it qualifies as a whole grain or high in fiber!  Be a savvy shopper by knowing what to look for in your products!

When shopping for whole grains, it is important to scan the nutrition list to find out the true nature of the grains found in the product!  If the product is truly a whole grain, the first ingredient listed should be one of the following:

  • Whole or rolled oats
  • Corn
  • Brown Rice
  • Wild rice
  • Whole wheat
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Quinoa

Nutrition labels can be misleading and companies love to market their foods in a way that makes us feel as though we are buying a nutritious product, even if that is not the case.  Common labels are listed below to let you know the true meaning behind the term. Most people associate the following terms with whole grains, but that may not be the case.

  • 100% wheat. This means that the only grain found in the product is wheat but it does not mean it contains the whole grain of wheat.
  • Multigrain. This term means that more than one type of grain was used to make the product.  The grains that were used may or may not have been whole grains.
  • Stone ground. This term refers to a technique used to grind grains.  The bran portion of the grain may or may not be included in the product, therefore, it may or may not be whole grain.

Purchase & Storage

Now that you know what to look for on labels, it is time to discuss how to purchase different whole grains.  You will want to buy whole grains from a source that has rapid turnover. With time, whole grains lose freshness at a much faster rate than refined grains.  To keep freshness, store any grains left in a package in the fridge if you do not plan to use the remaining product within 1-2 months. And store in a dry, cool place because warm temperatures can turn whole grains rancid.  Keep this in mind and do not store whole grains above stoves, near ovens or dishwashers. If the whole grains have a bad odor, do not purchase or use because they could be rancid.  To protect whole grains during storage, wrap whole grains in a plastic bag before storing in another container to prolong shelf life for a few weeks up to months.  When in your grocery, if you see insects around the grains, do not buy them from that store.  Bugs could be in a larval state and hatch later in the grain which can cause an infestation of bugs in your home pantry that is difficult to manage.

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 Whole Grains? Ask Bulgur!

Bulgur wheat are whole wheat kernals that have been soaked, boiled, dried, cracked into smaller pieces.  Bulgur wheat differs from most cracked wheat due to the fact that it is pre-cooked.  Bulgur typically comes in three forms: course grind which is similar to the consistency of rice, medium grind which is typically use in cereals or fillings, and fine grind which is typically used for tabbouleh.  Bulgur is a nutrition powerhouse and is a nutrient that I recommend you make a regular part of your intake.  Keep reading to learn about the wholesome source of nutrition you can gain from bulgur!

  • Bulgur helps prevent constipation, cancer and reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease
  • Bulgur contains ferulic acid which is a compound that can prevent nitrates and nitrites from converting into nitrosamines which have been linked to cancer! It is the perfect food to pair with a high nitrate food such as hot dogs!
  • Bulgur contains lignans which helps prevent cholesterol from sticking to your artery walls which reduces your risk for heart disease
  • Bulgur wheat can help you reach the recommended goal of 25 – 30 grams of dietary fiber!  The insoluble fiber found in this whole grain, helps eliminate waste from the body making it helpful in preventing and treatment constipation, hemorrhoids, intestinal polyps, colon cancer, and diverticular disease.
  • Bulgur contains the highest mineral content of any food!  It is rich in iron, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, selenium, and magnesium.
  • Bulgur is lower on the glycemic index than other grains so it helps stabilize insulin levels
  • Bulgur is a great way to increase protein intake! 1 cup of bulgur wheat provides approximately 6 grams of protein! It is also a great way for vegetarians to get vitamins and minerals they usually miss by not eating meat!  Bulgur provides B vitamins, folate, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus which most people get when eating red meat!
  • Cooking bulgur wheat is easy and quick! To cook bulgur you can boil it in water for 8-10 minutes and it will be ready to serve. Be creative! Serve on salads, in soups, as a pilaf, or as filler in veggie burgers, pancake mix, waffle mix, muffins or other baked goods to add a nutty flavor.  Bulgur can be used as a main dish, side dish, mixed with vegetables, nuts or meat/fish!    Some grocers will stock the product in pre-packaged forms or in self-serve bins!

Greek Bulgur Salad with Chicken

Yield:  10 servings (serving size: about 1 2/3 cups)

Recipe By: Cooking Light 4 1/2 cups water 3 cups uncooked medium bulgur 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons), divided 2 teaspoons salt, divided 2 1/2 cups chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast 2 1/2 cups chopped peeled cucumber 2 cups halved grape tomatoes 1 cup chopped fresh parsley 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese 1/4 cup extravirgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 10 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

Combine water, bulgur, 1/2 cup juice, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Uncover and cool to room temperature.

Combine remaining 1/4 cup juice, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss to combine. Add cooled bulgur mixture; toss well to combine. Cover and chill.

Meet The Newest Kashi Family Member!

Have you met the newest member of the Kashi brand Cereals? As I’m walking through Publix on Saturday, I was introduced to their newest product called Golden Delicious!

Nutrition Summary:

Once I returned home, I looked over the ingredient list to see what this product had to offer.  The first ingredient was “Seven Grain Blend” which is made up of whole: oats, brown rice, red wheat, rye, triticale, barley, and buckwheat!  Evaporated cane juice was within the top 5 ingredients which makes this the main sweetening agent.  Although there are better substitutes, evaporated cane juice is a healthy alternative to refined sugar. Both sugar and evaporated cane juice are made from sugar cane, but evaporated cane juice does not undergo the same degree of processing that refined sugar does.  Since the product has 5g of fiber per serving, it is considered a high fiber food.  Per 1 ¼ cup servings, this cereal offers 48 grams of total whole grains.  Once the fiber is subtracted the cereal offers 43 grams of net carbohydrates which would bring this cereal to a total exchange count of 3 carbohydrates!  Since breakfast is where you need the most energy to kick start your morning, the amount is acceptable!  This product has no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, or preservatives.

Taste Summary:

I have to give this cereal an A for taste and texture. The tiny flakes have the ability to really soak up the milk but still keep a nice crunch.  The flake and cluster combo provide a whole grain taste with a touch of honey and molasses.  I believe this would be a great cereal for a family because the kids would love the sweetness!  Let me know your thoughts when you try this cereal!!!

Fighting Fatigue w/ Food - Miniseries Part 4


Dehydration and fatigue go hand in hand.  Studies suggest that mild dehydration slows the metabolism and reduces your energy.  Water makes it possible to digest, absorb, and transport nutrients.  Water also helps regulate body temperature by allowing your cells to receive nutrients for energy efficiently so your body can properly expend heat through sweating. The solution to dehydration is simple – drink plenty of water at regular intervals!  Aim to drink 8-10 eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Other sources of fluid include flavored water, sports drinks, and herbal teas.

Begin with Breakfast

Skipping breakfast should no longer be an option.  Studies show that people who eat breakfast every morning enjoy more energy and a better mood throughout the day.  The ideal breakfast will deliver a mixture of fiber through whole grain carbs, healthy fats, and lean protein.