Last month we focused on adding more dark leafy greens to our diets. Hopefully that’s become a healthy habit by now.
If you’re just joining us, take a look back at last month’s post to see our tips and recipes for adding this important food to your daily meal plan.
This month, we’re talking about one of the most confusing topics when it comes to food choices – grains and carbohydrates. Because of the low carb/no carb diet craze many people who are trying to lose weight are afraid of carbs. This fear is sabotaging their efforts. By avoiding healthy grains we miss out on a valuable source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and fuel or energy for our bodies that keeps us feeling full and satisfied for extended periods of time. Real, whole grains have been a key component of healthy diets around the world for centuries. You just have to know which grains to choose and why.
Here’s a quick break down. There are simple carbs, which essentially breakdown as simple sugars in our body. These are the carbs that spike our blood sugar and can contribute to weight gain, inflammation and other negative symptoms in the body when consumed in excess. Some simple carbs are white bread or any product made with white flour, table sugar, brown sugar, honey, fruits, yogurt and many packaged cereals. Then there are complex carbohydrates. WHOLE grains are complex carbs and these are the ones we want to focus on adding into our diet this month.
Whole grains are usually made up of three or more sugars linked together as a chain. They’re rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals and because of their complex structure it takes our body longer to digest them. As a result, we don’t get the blood sugar spike caused by simple carbohydrates, but we do get a sustained source of energy and fuel and lots of valuable nutrients.
Before I share the list and a delicious recipe I have one more tip or request as you work to add more healthy whole grains (complex carbohydrates) to your diet this month. Please purchase and cook real whole grains. Whole grain breads, whole grains pastas and other processed, packaged grains can be good, but there are often hidden ingredients that will sabotage your efforts to eat clean and healthy. For this month, give real whole grains a try. These are easy to prepare and keep well so you can make a large batch at the start of the week and use it to prepare healthy, filling, comforting meals all week long.
This month, I encourage you to try at least one new grain from the list below. Work to prepare a few meals a week using this grain or experiment each week with a new grain from the list. In general, the rule of thumb is 1 part grain to 2 parts water. So if you were preparing a cup of quinoa you would mix 2 cups of water with 1 cup of quinoa. Bring it to a boil, stir, reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the water is gone.