Read health and food magazines. ‘Eat more whole grains’ is the charge. Although nutrition experts recommend increasing dietary fiber, grain confusion and carb-phobic attitudes prevent whole grain intake from being achieved. Why the whole grain buzz in the first place?
First, let’s debunk the fear of carbs. Dieting mentality and the influx of specific eating patterns like high protein, Paleo and gluten-free diets have given carbs a bad rap. Broken down into food examples, fruits and vegetables are mostly carbs as are refined and whole grains. Carb-rich fruits and veggies offer loads of cancer-preventing antioxidants. Inflammation is the foundation of all disease and refined grains contribute to inflammation. Refined grains have been modified to remove bran and germ and offer little nutritional value. Examples are white flour used for cookies, cakes, breakfast cereals, and snack foods like pretzels and crackers; white rice, white breads, and regular pasta. Whole grains protect against stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity, inflammation-driven negative health conditions but also lower blood pressure and promote dental health.
Whole grains contain the complete bran, germ and endosperm and are fiber-filled vessels of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, some protein and healthy fats. Common whole grains include quinoa, bulgur, farro, brown rice and oats and can be used to create tantalizing dishes.
If you want to reduce risk of disease and maintain an optimal weight, consider ditching refined “carbs” like sweets, pastries, bagels, crackers, and muffins and toss more fresh veggies and fruit along with whole grains onto your plate. Here’s a delicious start on that journey!
Quinoa, Cauliflower, Cranberries and Nuts
Frozen, pre-cooked quinoa and prepared chopped cauliflower make this an easy weeknight meal!
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or low-fat chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium sweet yellow onion, finely copped
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts (or chopped almonds or walnuts)
- To cook quinoa, rinse with water and drain. Combine with the vegetable broth in a small pan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the onions over medium-low heat until soft and translucent.
- Add the cauliflower pieces and water. Cover and cook 5-7 minutes over medium heat until tender.
- Add the cooked quinoa to the cauliflower followed by the remaining ingredients. Toss together and serve.