You've likely read a lot about whole grains in the news lately. It seems everywhere I turn, a magazine or major news source is touting their benefits, and it's now recommended that our intake of whole grains sit right around 48 grams per day, which can feel overwhelming to many people. But it doesn't have to be; there are a lot of sneaky, quick ways to work whole grains into your diet without sitting down to a big bowl of farro every day.
For me, the best way to ensure I'm eating more whole grains is to make it easy and convenient for myself. It's not everyday that I have the time to cook a pot of barley for dinner. (That can take almost an hour.) So I'm big on sneaky, easy ways to work in whole grain nutrition that feels very doable. I know many people are watching their gluten-intake these days and grains can get a bad rap. But keep in mind there are a number of wonderful gluten-free grains to be excited about — quinoa, millet, teff, oats, rice, corn, and more.
So with that, here are my top five suggestions to help get us all a little closer to those 48 grams of recommended whole grains each day:
5 Easy Ways to Eat More Grains
- Cook a Big Pot in Advance: It's true that cooking a pot of whole grains at the end of a long day can feel burdensome. I think that's why pasta or couscous are always such a draw: they're quick and it's possible to get dinner on the table in 15-20 minutes. But if you get in the habit of cooking your favorite grain (barley, wheat berries or farro are great starts) on Sunday (or whatever day finds you with the most downtime), you can reheat them and turn them into meals throughout the week.
- Buy Quick-Cooking Grains: Learning which grains are quick-cooking is a great way to ensure you're never spending much time standing and stirring a pot of grains at the stove. Quinoa, oats, millet, amaranth and teff all cook in under 20 minutes (some as quick as 10) and can be a great side dish, or beginnings of a main dish.
- Try a Whole-Grain Flour: When the topic of whole grain flours in baking recipes arises, many people reach for whole wheat flour. But relying solely on whole wheat flour can get a bit dull, and there's a whole world of other flours that will impart different flavors (and textures). A great "starter flour" beyond whole wheat is spelt flour: it acts much like white flour in many baking recipes so it tends to be an easy flour to begin with. Oat and barley flour are a few of my other favorites.
- Whole-Wheat Pasta for Dinner: A super easy way to incorporate whole grains into the evening routine is in the simple act of buying a whole grain pasta instead of a white flour pasta. Done!
- Snack on Popcorn! Yes, corn is a whole grain so the good news is that popcorn counts towards your daily whole grain recommendation.
(Images: Megan Gordon)