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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

Are You Choosing Whole Grains?

The Dietary Guidelines tells us to make half our grains whole grain, and after examining my cupboards and coolers, I've come to realize that I have done just that and maybe even more. Currently, I have whole wheat flour and flaxseed in my fridge (both can become rancid and therefore, needs to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer), whole wheat English muffins, whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta shells, whole grain spaghetti noodles, brown rice, popcorn, oats, bulgur, quinoa (though not technically a grain), and pearled barley (though not technically a whole grain as small amounts of the bran are missing.) Try opening your cabinets and count the whole grains. How many do you have?

A whole grain contains the entire kernel, including 3 parts: the bran, endosperm and germ. Each part contains different nutrients, including fiber, B-vitamins and antioxidants. Refined grains, which make up traditional white bread, only contain the endosperm and therefore, do not contain fiber and other vital nutrients. This is why white bread is not the healthiest choice.

But just because a loaf of bread is labeled, "wheat bread" does not necessarily mean it has whole grains. The best way to identify whole grains is to read the food label. Look for the word "whole" in the list of ingredients, such as "whole oats" or "whole rye". Foods labeled with the words, "multi-grain," "100% wheat," or "stone-ground" may not have any whole grains in them at all.

To help you eat enough whole grains, make the switch from white bread to whole grain wheat bread, white rice to brown rice, and enriched pasta to whole grain pasta. Use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as barley in soups and bulgur wheat in casseroles. You can also substitute whole wheat flour for white flour in most recipes. If making pancakes, waffles, or muffins, for example, use up to half the flour as whole wheat flour. If you tried using all whole wheat flour, the product will be quite dense and not as fluffy. Try this snack cake recipe, which uses half whole wheat flour to offer more nutrients and low-fat plain yogurt to replace half of the fat!

Banana Snack Cake

¾ cup whole wheat flour

¾ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup ripe bananas, mashed

¼ cup plain, low-fat yogurt

¼ cup oil

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Mix flours, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in mixing bowl. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Mix thoroughly. In separate bowl, thoroughly mix mashed bananas, yogurt, oil, egg, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture. Stir until dry ingredients are barely moistened. Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Yield: 9 servings

Nutrient Analysis per serving: 197 Calories, 7 grams fat, 209 milligrams sodium, 31 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 4 grams protein.

Recipe from 4-H Cooking 201


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