Glorious Grains

It saddens me when I hear people are cutting grains out of their diet. Grains are a major source of carbohydrates and do wonders for the body. When eaten in their whole, unrefined form they offer a wealth of goodness. They contain loads of B vitamins, trace minerals, antioxidants, fibre and are rich in protein. The fibre in whole grains helps support digestion, prevents constipation and promotes growth of good bacteria in the colon. Alongside the benefits from the fibre they contain, whole grains also reduce the risk of diseases such as heart disease and high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes as well as obesity and some cancers.


The best way to eat your grains to ensure you’re getting a good dose of their full potential is to soak them before cooking. Soaking grains in plain or acidulated water helps neutralise the phytic acid (a compound that binds minerals together, making them less available for absorption in our digestive tract) and enzyme inhibitors and also begins the breakdown the proteins so they can be easily and properly digested!

Tricolour Quinoa, Rolled Oats, Barley & Buckwheat!

Some easy ways to include more grains into your diet include:

  • Enjoy a warming bowl of wholegrain cereal for breakfast.

  • Blend into flour to make pancakes or waffle batter.

  • Roughly grind to make wholegrain breadcrumbs.

  • Choose wholegrain pasta or rice instead of white.

  • Experiment with different types of noodles such as buckwheat, barley, rice etc.

  • Eat wholegrain salads such as tabbouleh.

  • Cook and serve warm as a side dish for curries, stews or soups.

  • Make your own wholegrain pizza dough.

I’ve stepped away from my favourite bowl of oats in the morning and have been experimenting with some different varieties of grains which I don’t eat regularly. Don’t get me wrong, I still love oats and their amazing benefits such as their ability to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation, pre-biotic properties and the wonderful type of soluble fibre they contain – beta-glucan (which helps remove cholesterol from the blood preventing absorption and improving circulation!) but change is good and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with what I’ve come up with!


Millet:

Although not technically a grain, but a seed, millet contains copper, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and is low in phytic acid. It has heart-protective properties, helps with the development and repair of bodily tissues, can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and can protect against gallstones.

Millet porridge with apple, banana & pumpkin seeds!

Buckwheat:

Buckwheat is an unusual triangle shape and is known as a pseudo-cereal, meaning it doesn’t grow on grass like other starchy grains but is still used for the same purposes. Buckwheat is high in minerals and antioxidants, low in phytic acid and when eaten as a whole seed is a good source of fibre which helps moderate blood sugar levels. It is also rich in amino acids and is therefore a good source of protein. This nutty little grain contains manganese to support healthy metabolism and growth, copper to help the heart, magnesium to help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, iron to reduce the risk of anaemia and phosphorus to support growth and maintenance of tissues in the body.

Buckwheat pancakes with mixed berries!

Rice is a staple in many households. It is a familiar ingredient and is one that is used in so many recipes. I am a big lover of wholegrain rice and I choose to purchase wholegrain (brown) rice over white as it contains the nutrient-dense bran and germ layers, with only the inedible outer husk removed. This means that it is highest of all the grains in B vitamins and also contains iron, vitamin E and some protein. But in keeping with my theme of trying new things, I’ve stepped away from rice for a little white and have been trialling something different!


Barley:

Barley has a nutty, chewy texture and is sold in 2 forms: pot and pearl. Pot barley (much like wholegrain rice) has the bran and germ intact, with only the outer husk removed. Pearl barley on the other hand has the outer husk and the bran layer removed. When compared to other grains, pot barley is considered a superior nutrient powerhouse for its high levels of soluble and insoluble fibre, vitamins and minerals, including trace minerals such as selenium which is particularly important for fighting cancer.

Ginger, carrot and barley stew!

Quinoa:

Just like Buckwheat, quinoa is also considered a pseudo-cereal. It comes in different colours such as white, red or black, is super simple to cook and easy to use. Quinoa is renowned for its high protein content as it contains all 9 essential amino acids and is especially rich in lysine which is an amino acid necessary for growth and repair of the body. It is also a good source of nutrients such as folate, zinc and phosphorus and is also gluten-free.

Warm Indian spiced quinoa & sweet potato salad with fresh greens!

The Australian Guide to Health Eating recommends eating a wide variety of nutritious foods every day which includes grains (cereals) - mostly of wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley. The recommended daily serves for grains are as follows (based on a standard serve of 500kJ):

MEN:

  • Age 19-50: 6 serves/day

  • Age 51-70: 6 serves/day

  • Age 71+: 4 ½ serves/day

WOMEN:

  • Age 19-50: 6 serves/day

  • Age 51-70: 4 serves/day

  • Age 71+: 3 serves/day

  • Pregnant: 8 ½ serves/day

  • Lactating: 9 serves/day

These figures show that grains are such an important part of a healthy diet and are not something that should be feared. I hope I have given you some inspiration to go out and try some new grains (or pseudo-grains!) that you may not have tried before. Or if you can’t decide on what one to try, why not make up a mix of them all and enjoy them all together, just like my multigrain hot cereal which I love to enjoy with cooked apple and fresh fruit on top!

Multigrain hot cereal cooked with apple, raisins & cinnamon. Topped with fresh fig slices!

If you would like the recipes for any of the dishes mentioned in this post, feel free to shout out and let me know. I'd be happy to share them with you!


Until next time!


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