Grains and Seeds

I think we’ve all done a good job of including lots of fruits and vegetables in our diet, but our healthy-eating plan may be missing a super-nutritious element—grains and seeds. “Each type of grain offers a unique benefit, so it is highly recommended to choose a variety of whole grains to optimize the nutrition in your meals," explains Erin Armitage, a registered dietician.

There are many types of whole grains that are proven to be super nutritious—and lots of ways to add them to your diet. 

Flaxseeds


Known for strengthening nails, making hair shiny and giving skin its healthy glow, flaxseeds are growing in popularity, especially as a breakfast staple. These plant seeds are an excellent sources of polyunsaturated fats (the good type of fat) as it lowers bad cholesterol and is a good source of soluble fiber, which helps to regulate your bowels.

How to use it: Flaxseeds are best absorbed by the body when they are ground and it is best to grind them fresh as needed. I own an inexpensive tiny coffee grinder I use to grind my flax seed. Try adding 1-2 teaspoons into your breakfast oatmeal, cereal, yogurt or smoothie.

Where to find it: local bulk foods store

Quinoa



This superfood is an ancient, plant-based grain with high amounts of iron and fiber. Quinoais also packed with protein (eight grams per cooked cup/250 mL), and B vitamins.

How to use it: Try substituting rice with quinoa. Cooked quinoa can be made into salads by adding fresh herbs, vegetables, nuts, oil and vinegar. You could also try making quinoa for a breakfast cereal and top it with fresh berries and a drizzle of honey.

Where to find it: The best price is at Costco.

Black Rice


What is Black Rice exactly?
‘Black Rice’ is actually more purplish in color than black; although when uncooked it is very dark in appearance. This type of rice is usually sold ‘un-milled’, with the husk intact. Up until modern times, Black Rice was not easy to come by; it had been highly treasured and protected in Asia for many centuries. High in nutritional value, black rice is rich in iron and high in fiber.
Health Benefits
prevention of cancer
prevention of diabetes
prevention of heart disease
prevention of Alzheimer's disease.
Prevention of Heart Attacks

According to a study presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), "one spoonful of black rice bran contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than a spoonful of blueberries and better yet, black rice offers more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants, but less sugar."

Where to find it: I buy it at Costco

Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats are also called Scotch or Irish oats. They consist of the whole oat grain cut into thirds. Regularly eating steel cut oats gives you the same health benefits as rolled oats and is a less processed food, says Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N. A diet that includes oats may decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

While the Steel Cut Oats package advises 40 minutes of cook time (who has that much time to cook breakfast?) Monica Reingel shares a much easier method. Heat 3 cups of water to boiling and add 1 cup of steel cut oats. Take off the heat and cover the pan with the lid and leave until morning. The next day heat the oats with an added cup of water or milk. Easy peasy.

Where Available: Cereal aisle of grocery and health food stores

Chia Seed

Remember the Chia Pet? These gift items, clay figurines that sprouted grass-like "fur," were once all the rage. Yes they are edible!
What Is Chia?
Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. "Chia" means strength, and folklore has it that these cultures used the tiny black and white seeds as an energy booster. That makes sense, as chia seeds are a concentrated food containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium
Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds (unlike flaxseeds). One ounce (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals.

The mild, nutty flavor of chia seeds makes them easy to add to foods and beverages. They are most often sprinkled on cereal, sauces, vegetables, rice dishes, or yogurt or mixed into drinks and baked goods. They can also be mixed with water and made into a gel. 

My favorite new Chia recipe is the easiest ever.
Chia Jelly
1 Cup crushed or diced fruit
1 T. water
1 T. Chia seed
1-3 T. Pure Maple Syrup (or stevia, truvia etc.)
Blend together and let sit for an hour. Keeps in fridge for 2 weeks

So our challenge for the week is to try a grain or seed that has not previously been part of your regular diet. Shake it up and try something new! With grains look for the whole grain symbol  to make sure that you are getting a true serving of whole grain! 



For every day you have at least one serving of whole grain or seeds you earn 5 points for a total of 35 possible points.





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