I’m not here to insist that you cut grains completely out of your diet or make the switch TODAY to whole grains, but changing over to whole wheat items and trying to cut out most white flour/sugar was high on our list of priorities so I’m going to share with you our reasons.
To get mildly scientific
Whole wheat is a complex carbohydrate. This means they naturally contain Vitamin B, Vitamin E and fiber. According to Real Food, the digestion of carbohydrates requires B vitamins, which occur naturally in complex carbohydrates. When you eat refined products (white flour, white rice), your body is depleted of the B stores just in digestion. Basically speaking, these refined products are just “empty calories” with no real nutritional gain.
Complex carbohydrates also have to be broken down in your body, which takes longer than a simple carbohydrate. This means that your blood sugar and insulin levels rise slowly, as opposed to spiking and crashing quickly. The fiber can help you feel full for a longer period of time, further preventing spikes.
As we have progressed in our food journey, we have cut out a LOT of carbohydrates. We have tried to cut way back on the amount of pasta, bread and other whole grains that we eat. Not that we cut them out all together, but we have found that we feel much better when we eat larger quantities of vegetables, with lean meats and grains as a side instead of the main dish.
However, as I mentioned, we haven’t cut them out entirely. I do love to bake treats and desserts, the kids will eat grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I’m a sucker for just about every muffin recipe out there. We needed to find some alternatives that worked for our family, so here’s what we have come up with.
- Whole Wheat Flour - We have swapped out all white flour with organic whole wheat flour. Traditional whole wheat flour is pretty dense and can definitely change the consistency and texture of recipes. When I bake muffins, cakes, breads and other items that would benefit from a less dense flour, I use whole wheat pastry flour. This type acts more like a white flour and is significantly lighter. When we first made the switch, I started swapping out half the white flour for whole wheat to get my family used to the idea. We generally don’t notice the difference now. (I currently get my whole wheat pastry flour from Vitacost.)
- 100% Whole Wheat Breads – We don’t eat bread every day, but we do keep it in the house for quick sandwiches or sometimes toast in the morning. The majority of brands sold in grocery stores have some form of canola oil or high fructose corn syrup in them, so we avoid them for the most part. When I can’t find a bread that we really like, I go for the bread with the least amount of ingredients. Whole wheat (or some form thereof) absolutely must be the first ingredient. Remember, labels can be misleading. Dave’s Killer Bread is one of our absolute favorites, with no yucky ingredients and the most amazing taste. On my list of “Things to Do When I Have More Time” is to make my own bread. I’ll probably start with Jessie’s No-Knead Bread, seems easy enough for an amateur.
- Brown Rice - We have been eating brown rice exclusively for quite some time now and have never missed white rice. We pick up the giant bags of Lundberg Farms Organic Brown Rice from Costco and it is AMAZING. We eat it without any additional butter or fats because it tastes so good by itself. If you are a white rice family, I recommend switching to a wild rice blend or half white and half brown to start off. Just as with whole wheat flour, it is a different taste and texture. I throw ours in the rice cooker just about every other night and use it for Mexican dishes, throw in a cup or two with salad for lunch or use it as a base for chicken.
- Oats and Quinoa – We eat organic steel cut oats almost every morning and have even stumbled across a fantastic no-bake method that you can make the night before. We also eat quite a lot of quinoa, it is super versatile and contains a decent amount of both protein and fiber to keep us full. It can be cooked with a variety of liquids and basically takes on the taste of the ingredients you add in. We have made Quinoa Patties, Quinoa Salad w/ Corn, Tomatoes and Black Beans, Chocolate Chip Quinoa Muffins and much more.
- Other Grains Worth Mentioning – There are so many different types of grains out there, most of them untapped by our family. Millet, barley, amaranth, buckwheat, just to name a few. I would love to hear if you have had experience with any of these or any others. We are always looking to try something new!
If you’re curious where we buy some of our products, we do get steel cut oats, quinoa, rice, some bread and organic whole wheat flour at Costco. You can also buy some of these items in bulk if you wanted to pick up a smaller amount to try first. We also use Amazon and Vitacost quite a bit.
I’m excited to share our journey with you! In the next post of this series, I will be tackling The Big Meat Question. I know several of you have questions about grass-fed beef and pork, so I’m going to do my best to address everything that comes along with making the switch.
In case you missed it:
- Where our journey began and resources we have used
- Learning to read labels and eliminating hydrogenated oils
- Demystifying the produce aisle and fabulous local options
- The Big Milk Switch
- The Chicken and the Egg
- Real Food by Nina Planck (Amazon)