A whole world of grains opened up when this cook began a low-cholesterol diet. Kasha (buckwheat groats), cracked wheat, bulgur wheat, bran . . . you name it, it's confusing.
The wheat berry is an unprocessed kernel. The berry can be broken into cracked wheat or bulgur wheat. (A food coop colleague buys 25- or 50-pound bags of wheatberries and grinds her own when she needs it, using a Kitchen Aid attachment!) The outer covering can be further processed to be used in cereal or wheat bran, whose primary nutrient is fiber. The wheat germ, the "embryo" of the wheatberry or unprocessed kernel, is the primary source of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. The endosperm is primarily comprised of starch, protein, niacin, and iron, and is refined into whole wheat flour.
Moosewood Restaurant, Low-Fat Favorites, is a great source for learning to cook with grains.
Source: Ohio State University Extension,Senior Series, Adapted by: Alma M. Saddam, PhD, RD. Nutrition Specialist . Reference Adapted from Healthy Eating for Life Program (HELP), Kansas State University, 1996. Follow the Food Guide Pyramid for daily food choices and healthy eating practices.
1. Putting the Food Guide Pyramid on Your Table--Grains
Putting the Food Guide Pyramid on Your Table encourages older adults to improve their food behaviors.
The older we become, the more careful we should be when choosing our food. We should depend upon food for good nutrition. Food is much more than just a collection of nutrients. Follow the Food Guide Pyramid for daily food choices and healthy eating practices.
Variety with Barley, Rye, and Other Grains
Eat at least six servings of grains each day. Try some other grains besides corn, oats, rice, and wheat. Wheat, rice, and corn are used more often than other grains in the world, but many other grains can add a lot of variety to our diets. The whole or cracked grains are more healthy than the grains without hulls. Examples would be white flour, white rice, and corn grits. They have more fiber and nutrients.
By law, wheat flours (unbleached or bleached) are white flours enriched with some B
vitamins, iron, and other nutrients, but they are lower in fiber and
other nutrients. Many grains are low in some proteins. For the best protein value, eat grains with animal products (such as milk and meat) or with dried
beans and peas. Count a half cup of cooked cereal or 1 ounce of dry cereal as one grain serving.
Barley has protein, minerals, and B vitamins. The fiber in barley and oats may help reduce blood fat levels. Pearl barley is a refined grain like white rice or
corn grits. Both medium-cooking barley and quick barley are available. Toss a small handful of quick cooking barley into soups. Barley flour does not make
good bread. It can be used in quick breads made with baking powder or baking soda and in cereals such as Grape Nuts.
Bulgur is a word from the Turkish language for a cracked wheat cereal that is cooked, dried, and has parts of the bran removed. It has a nutty flavor and
slightly chewy texture. This is a quick-cooking grain that can be cooked the same way as rice and is often used in place of rice in recipes.
In this country, corn refers to maize but in other countries, corn can mean wheat (England) or oats (Scotland and Ireland). Corn is very low in protein and
some vitamins. Children cannot live on corn alone. Cornmeal and corn grits come with vitamins added. Corn hominy is used as a starchy vegetable or cooked
cereal. Other more highly refined corn products are corn oil taken from the germ of the kernel. Cornstarch is used for thickening gravies and puddings, and corn sugars and syrups as sweeteners.
Rye is most often milled into flour. "Light" and "medium" are sifted rye flours that have most of the bran removed. "Dark" rye flour is not sifted and contains
more nutrients. Most rye breads use 1 cup of flour to every 2 to 3 cups of wheat flour. Pumpernickel bread has rye flour in it.
Why Wheat is Special
Only five (5) of forty-four (44) known needed nutrients are missing from the whole wheat kernel. The bran and whole kernel are high in dietary fiber, needed
for helping with bowel movements. Wheat flour is used to give yeast breads their lightness. But, besides being made into flour, wheat can be sprouted, cooked whole or cracked, rolled, flaked, or made into pasta, bulgur, cereals, and snack items. Wheat bran and wheat germ are in most grocery stores.
Using These Grains
When preparing food, mix grains and add whole-grain products, such as bran or germ. This will add protein, vitamins, and fiber to dishes. Try new ideas.
For one-fifth to one-fourth of the wheat flour, use other grain flours instead. Try this with pancakes, waffles, yeast and quick breads, cookies, and
some cakes. If using bran for flour, try a small amount. Add more moisture to prevent a dry product. Try adding an equal amount of extra water or milk to the amount of bran used.
Whole or cracked grains, such as barley or bulgur, can be added to soups. Cook other grains as you would brown rice for a side dish: one part grain to two
parts water. Simmer covered for 30 to 60 minutes until the grain is tender. Soaking before cooking saves time. Allow one third cup of uncooked grain per
serving. The Grains, where it all begins. This is the foundation of the Food Guide Pyramid. There are five other groups in the Pyramid.
2. Label - Some Things to Know About Grains/Breads
Grains/Breads products are rich sources of protein, B-vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin and niacin) and iron. In addition, whole-grain breads and cereals provide folate, vitamins B6, A and E; the antioxidant nutrients vitamin E and selenium; and the minerals zinc and copper. Usually whole-grain breads provide more vitamins and minerals than refined enriched products such as white bread.
Most bread products contain significant quantities of dietary fiber. Check the label for fiber content. Breads with two or more grams of fiber per slice are good sources of fiber.
Flour is made by finely grinding and sifting wheat or other grains. Flour includes all grains (wheat, rye, corn, etc.).
Meal is made by coarsely grinding corn, oats, wheat, etc.
Whole-grain is the edible part of wheat, corn, rice, oats, rye, barley, etc.
Whole-grain flour is made by grinding the entire grain and includes the bran, the germ and the endosperm. If a flour or meal does not contain all parts of the grain, it is not whole-grain.
Refined grains have their coarse parts removed. Refined flour does not include the bran or germ. When the bran and germ are removed, some essential nutrients, including fiber, are lost. White bread and hot dog buns are examples of breads that are often made from refined flours. Refined bread products are only creditable for the CACFP if they are enriched and/or fortified.
Enrichment of bread or bread products refers to the process by which nutrients (thiamin (B1), niacin (B2), riboflavin (B3), and iron) are added to refined grains and grain products at levels specified by law. If the flour in the product is enriched, the ingredient statement will indicate that enriched flour was used. A bread product, rather than the flour, may also be enriched. In this case, the ingredient list will show that thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and iron were added to the product.
Fortification refers to the addition of one or more vitamins, minerals or proteins to a
food. If a food is fortified, then the label will state
specifically that it is fortified.
Whole-wheat bread contains the whole grain, including the fiber-rich bran and germ. Whole-wheat flour should be the first ingredient. Wheat bread often has wheat flour or enriched wheat flour (not whole-wheat flour) as the main ingredient. This bread is low in fiber unless the manufacturer has added fiber.
Oat bread is usually white bread with a small amount of oats added. Check the ingredient list to see how far down on the list oats are listed. If it appears toward the end of the list, the bread contains little fiber.