You’re probably getting plenty of grains: research suggests that, on average, Americans get half of their calories from grains and foods made from flours. Unfortunately, most of us tend to opt for refined grains (from which the nutrient-rich bran and germ have been removed) and foods that contain processed flours. By reaching for refined grains in place of whole ones, we’re losing out on some essential nutrients, including B vitamins, zinc and magnesium as well as a whole lot of fiber. We’re also missing out on whole grains’ protection against cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Now, the good news: getting more whole grains, and fiber, into your life is easier and tastier than you might think. Add any of these flavor combinations to 2 to 4 cups cooked grains for a few new flavors along with whole grains.
Apricot-Nut: 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots, 1/4 cup chopped toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans or pistachios), 3 tablespoons orange juice, 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, and salt
Lime-Cilantro: 2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, 1/3 cup chopped scallions, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and salt
Mediterranean: 1 chopped medium tomato, 1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives, 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence, and salt
Mint & Feta: 3/4 cup sliced scallions, 1/4 cup each finely crumbled feta cheese and sliced fresh mint, and salt
Parmesan & Balsamic: 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon butter, 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, and salt
Parmesan-Dill: 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, and salt
Peas & Lemon: 1 cup frozen peas (add to hot grain, cover and let stand for 5 minutes). Stir in 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, and salt
Spicy & Sweet Sesame-Soy: 3 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce, 2 teaspoons each sesame oil and finely chopped fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon each chile-garlic sauce and honey, and 1/4 cup chopped toasted cashews
Spinach: 3 cups sliced baby spinach (or arugula); add to hot grain, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Season with salt
Tomato-Tarragon: 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes, 3 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon (or parsley or thyme), and salt
Check with your doctor about the right diet for you.