Still looking for ways to make half your daily grains whole grains?

You may not have considered these creative and tasty ways to implement whole grains in your daily eating habits.

MyPlate’s grain group consists of any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal or barley, or a product made of grain. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas and grits are examples of grain products. Most Americans are getting plenty of grain foods in their daily diets but are often lacking in adding whole grain foods each day. The recommendation is to make at least half of your grains whole grains. How are you doing?

Grains are divided into two subgroups, whole grains and refined grains. The whole grains contain the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ and endosperm; and include the following foods: Whole wheat flour, bulgur (cracked wheat), oatmeal, whole cornmeal and brown rice. To make sure the grains you are consuming are truly whole grains, always remember to check the ingredient list and look for the words “whole wheat.” Some food products are made from mixtures of whole grains and refined grains.

Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron and many B vitamins. Some examples of refined grain products are white flour, white bread and white rice. Most refined grains are enriched. This means certain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron are added back after processing.

The "Grain Chain" is a group of MyPlate National Strategic Partners committed to promoting and supporting grains. The "Grain Chain," in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, created five new videos to promote the key consumer message: Make at least half your grains whole. Members of the "Grain Chain" include American Baker’s Association, Wheat Foods Council, Grains Food Foundation, National Pasta Association, USA Rice Federation, General Mills and Kellogg's. These videos are a great resource to help you think about ways to add more whole grain foods into your diet.

Michigan State University Extension recommends considering these additional tips when adding more whole grains to your diet:

  • Enjoy breakfasts that include whole grain cereals, such as bran flakes, shredded wheat or oatmeal.
  • Substitute whole wheat toast or whole grain bagels for enriched white products.
  • Mix brown and white rice or pasta together, or make a sandwich using one piece of enriched white bread and one piece of whole wheat bread.
  • Make sandwiches using whole grain breads or rolls. Try a whole wheat flour tortilla or English muffin instead of enriched white flour products.
  • Try whole grain pasta for lunch or dinner. In most grocery stores, several whole wheat or whole grain varieties are now available.
  • Replace white rice with brown rice, wild rice or bulgur.
  • Add brown rice, wild rice or barley in soups, stews, casseroles and salads.
  • Add whole grains, such as cooked brown rice or whole grain bread crumbs, to ground meat or poultry for extra body.
  • Use rolled oats or crushed bran cereal in recipes instead of dry bread crumbs.

March is National Nutrition Month, so make it a goal to consume extra whole grain foods every day this month to create lasting healthy habits.

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