Whole Grains - a great place to begin
Whole grains are a really great place to start if you are wanting to incorporate more nutrition into your diet. They are incredibly accessible to us all. And while organic may be best, just incorporating any form of whole grains into your regular diet will be great. The benefits of eating more whole grains include increased intake of vitamins, minerals, as well as an increase in fiber. I personally think whole grains help food have more taste, more interest, and will definitely make you feel full for longer. They are also purported to help reduce heart disease, strokes, Type II diabetes and some forms of cancer.

I have read in a few different places that we should be consuming at least six servings of grains daily, with three of them being whole grains. Americans typically consume only one serving daily. Six may sound overwhelming, especially when you remember that you are to be eating five serving of fruits and vegetables, drinking eight glasses of water, exercising three to five times a week etc... But, truly, whole grains can be very easy to incorporate into your diet. Let me offer up some easy and very yummy ideas, and products to help you on your way:

Lets begin with breakfast....

Whole Wheat English Muffins I find Matthew's at my regular grocery store. I am sure these, and other whole wheat muffins, can be found at the health food store also. We regurly eat the whole wheat ones, but I recently bought the multi-grain and found they are totally delicious! A helping of scrambled eggs, an english muffin, and a piece of bacon or sausage is regular breakfast fare for us.

We are big fans of bagels at our house. The brand I like to buy is Alvarado, though Ezekiel Bread is very similar. I like that they are made with sprouted wheat, they are hefty, and they taste delicious. These bagels will be a big change if you are used to Bruegger's or the typical big, fluffy bagel. But, you'll quickly get use to the change in texture. You won't find yourself hungry an hour after you eat one of these!

Another option for breakfast is making pancakes with half white flour and half whole wheat; a simple trick is adding in a quarter cup of wheat or oat bran to your pancakes or waffles - this is a great way to achieve fiber and whole grains. This keeps the pancakes fluffy and light yet you have your whole grain easily incorporated. I also make waffles with all whole wheat flour, and french toast with whole wheat bread. Eve loves oatmeal with cut up apples - rolled oats will give you the most benefit, rather than quick oats.

My kids will occasionally eat cereal with milk; Barbara's is one of our favorites.

The kids love Puffins, and Shredded Oats. Barbara's has a fruit sweetened "cheerio" type cereal that they enjoy as well. I cut up fresh fruit, or a few frozen blueberries, put them on top and they are happy as can be. There is another company called Mother's who has some really delicious cereals out. A few of my personal favorites are the Peanut Butter Bumpers, Graham Bumpers, and Honey Bumpers. I usually buy this cereal for snacks for those in my family that have a sweet tooth (ME!).

On to lunch:

Annie's. My kids love Annie's! I buy them when they are at the grocery on sale ten for ten dollars. I buy the Appelgate Farm's hotdogs and add them in. I also add in some organic veggies for good measure. This is one of my kid's favorite lunch meals.

I also like to make mini pizzas for them - that brings us back to English muffins. I cut one in half, spread some pasta sauce on it, sprinkle a bit of cheese ( any kind will do) and broil them for about 2-3 minutes. It's fast, my kids love them, and they are filling. I make these when I am in a time crunch!

A simple tuna fish sandwich, with a thin slice of cheese on whole wheat, or rye bread is great as well. For fun I sometimes use a cookie cutter to make the sandwich extra special. The other day I was bored with our regular lunch fare so I whipped up some sweet potato biscuits. My biscuits are made with 100 percent whole wheat flour which meant that they would be nice and filling. I gave the kids a couple of those, warm from the oven, with a slice of cheese - they were thrilled.

Lunch can be as creative as you want - and who says you have to be conventional - certainly not me! Just look for interesting ways to incorporate whole grains - a pasta salad made with whole wheat pasta, a cold quinoa salad topped with salmon and asparagus, drizzle on a bit of oil and vinegar dressing. Whole wheat tortillas with black beans, leaf lettuce, cut up tomatoes, and a dab of sour cream or plain yogurt. I often enjoy a simple salad made with cooked brown rice, cut up grilled chicken, slices of black olives, sometimes cold steamed broccoli. I pour a bit of homemade italian dressing over top, and it's delicious. Simple, simple!

Okay, now for dinner:

Brown rice is awesome, and if you pair it with a legume (beans) you are completely golden. But don't forget to broaden your horizons! You've got whole wheat cous cous, whole wheat pasta (organic brands such as Bionaturae are very inexpensive and delicious), quinoa, wild rice (expensive, but if you just add in a handful to your regular brown rice it adds a nice texture), and bulgar to name a few. Also a whole grain roll on the side is a tasty addition to a meal.
It's easy to incorporate whole grains, and they really aren't expensive when bought from the bulk section of the health food store. It's not as if you have to buy a ton of the food item either. You can buy as much or as little as you like!

I have some great snack ideas as well, but those will have to wait for another day.

In no way is this post comprehensive, my goal is simply to help you understand how easy and delicious it can be to take a step towards a more healthful lifestyle. I know a lot of you are way beyond the point of just adding more whole grains, but some of you may have needed a little insight. I hope this helps! Now, go enjoy some delicious whole grains today!

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