What better time than the heart of summer to make healthy changes to your daily diet? This post is last in a series of how to eat better so you can live better each and every day.
As I’ve been saying all month, there is a huge problem in the United States: trying to get people to eat healthier. My last tip to eat better is to get away from processed foods. The more processed a food is, the less nutrients it has. The better alternative: make it from scratch.
Now, I know, you are going to say, “I don’t have time to cook from scratch.” But I’m here to tell you can’t afford not to cook from scratch. I recently took a couple of cooking classes from Chef Brad, an Arizona native with his own cooking show, who has mastered the art of cooking from scratch using whole grains. He is an authority on working in essential grains – those that are rich in protein – to your everyday meals. By adding whole grains to your meals, you are insuring a more nutritional lifestyle.
Listening to Chef Brad tout his 80/20 approach to cooking (with whatever you eat, make it 80% healthy nutrition and 20% whatever it takes to eat the nutritious stuff), the first thing that came to my mind was, how does the current gluten-free craze fit in with using whole grains? Chef Brad shared that being gluten free doesn’t mean you need to be grain free. Rather, it means not using yeast with wheat grains. The trick is to combine three or more non-wheat grains that you can substitute for traditional wheat based flours. His favorite gluten-free combination includes making flour out of brown rice, sorghum, and amaranth.
Chemicals in our foods are what cause digestive problems. A popular chemical additive used in most flours is bromine. For best baking results, Chef Brad said to make sure you use flours that don’t contain bromine and that are made from non-GMO grains. One source for these types of healthy flours is Honeyville Grain. None of the flours they produce contain either one of these additives.
An easy way to make sure you get fiber and the goodness of whole grains in your baking, is to replace regular white flour with what he calls wonder flour. Take equal parts of the whole grains spelt, pearl barley, and brown rice, mix together, than grind in to flour. You can use this combination flour for anything that calls for white flour and doesn’t need yeast. Use 1-1/4 cup wonder flour for every one cup called for using white flour. The result is a high fiber,guilt free flour that adds a nice nutty taste to your baked goods. I first used it in making pie crust. The results were delicious and it really complemented the apple filling I made.
Another way to make sure you are incorporating whole grains in your meals is to make a batch of oat groats or brown rice on Monday and then keep it in your fridge ready to use throughout the week. Chef Brad suggested making rice bowls with these precooked grains. They are simple, fast and nutritious For a breakfast rice bowl, stir fry the cooked grain and some sliced almonds in a little coconut oil until heated through. Add some fruit (fresh peaches, blueberries or strawberries or dried raisins or cranberries) and a half cup fat free yogurt and you have a nutrition packed breakfast to start your day. An alternative rice bowl for lunch or dinner is to stir fry the cooked grain again in some coconut oil but this time add some chicken, pineapple, and broccoli or snow peas for a quick, healthy Asian dish.
Incorporating nutritional whole grains to every day meals is easy, simple, and a great way to eat healthy and live better.