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VidaCura Newsletter VidaCura Newsletter: Taking Care of Ourselves: Health and Wellness Information You Can Use
Health and Wellness Information You Can Use
  Cooked grains
have been
a food staple
for over
5000 years.
Food for Thought:
Whole Grains: Hearty and Healthy Foods
Posted: September 4, 2008

Whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. Their health effects have been evident for centuries. Indeed, when Hippocrates, the father of medicine, wrote "Let food by thy medicine and let medicine be thy food," he was talking in part of the "medicinal" benefits to be found grains.

In an article published in Nutrition Research Reviews, University of Minnesota food scientist Dr. Joanne Slavin noted a slew of them. Said Dr. Slavin: "Studies find that whole-grain intake is protective against cancer, CVD [cardiovascular disease], diabetes and obesity... Whole grains are rich in nutrients and phytochemicals with known health benefits. Whole grains have high concentrations of dietary fiber, resistant starch [easy-to-digest starch], and oligosaccharides [easy-to-digest plant sugars]. Whole grains are rich in antioxidants, including trace minerals and phenolic compounds and these compounds have been linked to disease prevention. Other protective compounds in whole grains include phytate, phyto-oestrogens such as lignan, plant stanols and sterols and vitamins and minerals. Published whole-grain feeding studies report improvements in biomarkers with whole-grain consumption, such as weight loss, blood-lipid improvement, and antioxidant protection...[and] it is well known that dietary fiber from grains such as wheat and oats increases stool weight and speeds transit."

In plain English, whole grains are really-really-really good for you.

But whole grains have a downside. Most require 1/2-1 hour to wash, rinse and cook before you can use them. So despite the fact that the USDA Food Pyramid says we should be eating at least three servings of whole-grain foods a day, most of us aren't.

To combat that, buy already-prepared foods made with or from whole grains, such as hot and cold cereals, breads and pastas. Or, when you are cooking, make substitutions. For instance, use half "regular" flour and half whole-grain flour for cookies, cakes, quick breads, pancakes or gravy. Or cook up a pot or two of bulgar wheat, or quinoa or brown rice or whatever grains ring your particular dinner bell, measure the cooled grains into plastic food storage bags (which you can reuse) and freeze them.

When you need a side-dish in a hurry, un-bag the grain and place it in a covered dish, add whatever condiments you wish, then microwave it. Or toss a frozen chunk of rice, quinoa or bulgar wheat into a pot of canned soup.

When you're not in a hurry, thaw a bag and mix the grain with ground meat for meatloaf or bread for stuffing, or toss it into casseroles or dinner salads. Or use it as the basis for a grain salad (see below).

Try these!
Tabouleh Salad
George and Katie Hoy are health-savvy innkeepers at The Inn at Brandwine Falls just outside Cleveland, Ohio. This recipe is a big favorite with guests.

1/2 cup bulgar (cracked wheat)
1 bunch (6-8) scallions
4 large bunches of parsley
2 large tomatoes
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons mint

1. Rinse wheat several times in water.
2. After final rinse, soak wheat in water to cover.
3. As wheat soaks, chop scallions, parsley and tomatoes.
4. Drain wheat and place in serving bowl.
5. Add vegetables, lemon juice, oil, and seasonings and mix well.
6. Serve on bed of fresh greens (If preparing ahead of time, reserve tomatoes and add immediately before serving)
Serves: 6 as a side dish, 4 as a main dish.
Preparation time: 30 minutes

Used with permission from The Inn at Brandywine Falls

Mixed Grains with Garlic and Scallions Salad
This salad also makes a great stuffing for bell peppers, mushrooms and zucchini.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup scallions, trimmed and chopped, plus 1/2 cup sliced scallions for garnish
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed and drained
1/2 cup millet
1 cup quick-cooking brown rice
3 to 4 cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In large non-stick skillet with tightly fitting lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add the 1/2 cup chopped scallions and the garlic and saute for two minutes.
3. Add the quinoa, millet, and rice and stir to coat the grains with the olive oil.
4. Add three cups of broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed. If the millet is not yet tender, add additional broth, 1/4 cup at a time- up to 1 cup - and continue to simmer until the broth is absorbed and the millet is tender.)
6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
7. Serve hot, garnished with the 1/2 cup of scallions.
Serves: 12 (1/2 cup)
Preparation time: about one hour

From The New American Plate. Used with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Issue 1: September, 2008
Optimists Live Longer
Eating Smarter
Tips to Avoid Falls
Health Checklist for 50+
Compression Stockings
The Benefits of Grains
Welcome to VidaCura
Letter from the Editor
VidaCura Blog
VidaCura Main Site
AARP Health Resources
New York Times Health NPR: On Health Podcast
NPR: Health Care
What if you don't have health insurance? VidaCura Co-founder Larry Berk offers some advice. Read more>

Do bad times equal better health? Read more>
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