The benefits of including grains in your diet, with a Printable list of grains with calories, macros.
Diets can change our perspective of foods, both positively and negatively. Some diets that focus on macronutrients and calorie counting have an effect on the way we view different foods. It isn’t always intentional but we can view some foods as good and others as bad.
Carbohydrates can be a macronutrient dieters try to avoid. When most of us think about carbs we go to fruit, and grain, even though carbohydrates can be present in foods within every food group.
All about grains?
When we think of grains, most of us think of carbs. But grains are also a source of other nutrients. Grains contain essential nutrients like B vitamins, fiber, iron, magnesium and selenium. Grains play an important role in our diet and can fit into your diet.
When trying to track calories, focus on whole grains and a variety of grains.
We are surrounded by refined grains, this means that part of the grain has been removed, most of the vitamins and minerals are removed during this process. Enriched grains have some of the nutrients added back in, but not all of the nutrients.
Common sources of refined grains we might think of may include bread, pasta, crackers and other pre-packaged goods. The majority of the time these are refined wheat.
There are many types of grain and other sources that are whole grains.
The goal of MyPlate is to make half of your grains of the day be whole grains. To help include whole grains in your diet I have created a list of different types of grains with recipes and tips to incorporate them into your diet.
This is probably the most common source of grain in the western diet. Whole wheat pasta is a popular option, and easy to find. Because it is not as fine as white flour pasta I find having whole wheat pasta with a sauce is best. I prefer to use it when making spaghetti or a pasta salad.
Another option is whole wheat bread. The vocabulary used in bread ingredients is very deceiving. A package may say wheat bread, but this does not guarantee that it is whole wheat. The easiest way to check is the ingredient list. The first ingredient needs to be whole wheat. Sometimes it will be made with part whole wheat and part white flour or a different grain. If wheat flour, or enriched wheat flour is included in the ingredient list this means that some of the flour in the bread is not whole wheat.
Bulgur is cracked wheat and can be used in lots of different ways, one easy on is for breakfast, Overnight Bulgur is an easy way to mix up breakfast, basically it’s overnight oats, but with bulgur instead.
The next popular grain is rice. Similar to wheat, the refined version is more common. White rice is the refined version, brown rice is the whole grain. Brown rice is not as soft a white rice and has a chewier texture. There are so many ways to include brown rice. Some of my favorites are in recipes that the rice cooks with other ingredients, this helps give the rice more flavor. One is a one pan Mexican Chicken and RIce dish. The other is for Lemon Rice, which goes great with fish such as baked salmon.
Fresh corn is considered a vegetable while dried corn is a grain. Just as is wheat, whole corn in the whole grain version where corn is the refined version. You can also look for the whole grain stamp on the package. Popcorn is a whole grain, my favorite is lightly salted or pop on its own and add other seasonings to it. Food for Life’s Sprouted Corn Tortillas are my favorite, they are made with whole corn. They break easily, but taste so good. They stay together better if heated or have melted cheese on them. I like cutting it into pieces and eating them with meat, beans and guacamole.
Oatmeal and oatmeal cookies are what come to mind, what else can we make with oats? Lots! First, as a note, the difference between steel cut and rolled oats is that steel cut is cute oat groats and rolled are just rolled, but nutritionally they are the same. Oat flour can be added to baked goods such as muffins or these Oat Cottage Cheese Pancakes. Oats can also be added instead of bread crumbs, like this recipe for Meatloaf.
One of my favorite grains, it is quick and easy to cook. It is also special as it is a complete protein. It is similar to rice with a stronger flavor. I find if cooked correctly, it can be added into a salad with dressing and doesn’t get soggy. This Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is a great addition to some baked fish for chicken. I also like adding some cooked quinoa instead of granola to yogurt and fruit and nuts. And because it doesn’t get soggy, these can be prepped ahead ready to grab on your way out the door.
Pearled barley is the refined version, hulled or hulless barley is the whole grain version. Whole grain barley can be harder to find at the store, but is a great addition to recipes. Barley soup is a great winter meal. This Beef and Barley Soup has veggies, protein and grains. Barely is another grain that is great to combine with vegetables like Barley With Brussel Sprout and Edamame, a great side that goes well with different types of meat.
Millet is a fine grain, but if not cooked enough it can be pretty hard and chewy. Millet is similar to rice or quinoa and makes a great side dish cooked with broth and other vegetables. I find it hard to cook without getting mushy, but a rie cooker might help. You can also use millet flour in baked goods such as these Millet Pancakes. There are some great millet products in stores, these Millet and Brown Rice Noodles are quick to make and go great with meat and veggies in a noodle bowl. There is also Puffed Millet, which is a great topping to yogurt or smoothie bowls.
Other ways to cook grains
If you are wanting to cook a grain to serve as a savory side, I like to use broth instead of water. It will give the grain more flavor and makes it easy to not have to worry about seasoning afterwards. If you want something for a sweeter side, you can cook the grain in water with coconut milk. It will give it a hint of coconut flavor. You can even add cinnamon and other spices too.
If you want to test out a grain before buying a whole bag, the bulk section is a great place to just buy a cup or two to test out. Sprouts, WinCo and other health food stores normally have a good selection of grains and flours.
There are many ways to incorporate whole grains into your diet without feeling that all your eating is grains. Adding a little to meals makes it easy. I like to make bowls with grains, legumes, protein and veggies. It is easy to prepare ahead of time and put together when you’re ready to eat. Making room in your carbohydrate intake for whole grains will help provide you with important nutrients and give you energy.
I would love to hear some of your favorite ways to use whole grains.
|Grain||Measurement||Weight||Calories||Carbs||Fat||Protein||WW 0 Pts|
|Cheerios cereal||1/2 cup||18||70||15||1||1.5|
|Chex rice cereal||2/3 cup||20||80||17||0.5||1.5|
|cooked brown rice||0.5||101||124||26||1||2.5||0|
|cooked white rice||0.5||90||120||26||0.25||2.2|
|corn tortilla||2 tortillas||47||100||20||1.5||2|
|crackers, wheat thins||16 crackers||31||140||22||5||2|
|flour tortilla||1 8″ tortilla||49||140||26||3||4|
|Honey bunches of oats cereal||1/2 cup||21||85||16||1.5||1.5|
|Nature valley protein granola||1/3 cup||32||140||20||4||6|
|Oats, instant||1 packet||28||100||18||2||4||0|
|Oats, rolled, dry||1/3 cup||30||100||20||1.5||2.5||0|
|Oats, steel cut||1/4 cup||40||150||27||3||5||0|
|popcorn||3 3/4 cup||28||150||16||9||2||0|
|rice cake||1 cake||9||35||7||0||<1|
|Special K cereal||1 cup||39||140||34||0.5||3|
|tortilla chips||12 chips||28||141||19||6.3||1.9|
|wheat berries||1/3 cup||100||88||18.3||0.5||4.2|
|white bread||1 slice||43||120||22||2||3|
|whole wheat bread||1 slice||43||110||21||2||4|
|whole wheat pasta, cooked||0.5||70||90||20||0.75||4||0|
|whole wheat tortilla||1 8″ tortilla||45||110||22||2||4|