Learn about three of the healthiest whole grains you can eat. Plus, learn how to prepare your body to process these foods.
We all know Wonder bread is anything but wonderful. White flour is not a healthy food since it’s devoid of the bran that contains the nutrients.
We are talking about whole grains in part 4 of our series Change Your Diet, Change Your Life.
Whole grains have gotten a bad rap in recent years from many low carb and caveman diet circles but humans have been flourishing on whole grains for thousands of years. In fact, we can thank whole grains for creating stable communities and advancing civilization. And whole grains can make up a healthy part of a diet. While researching, I found this awesome statistic. Harvard researchers followed over 20,000 participants in the Physicians Health Study over a period of nearly 20. They found that men who simply enjoyed a daily morning bowl of real whole grain cereal had a 29% lower risk of heart failure.
So the answer is, avoid processed grains, right? Well, it’s complicated.
We actually want to eat whole grains, but we need to process these as well.
You see, whole grains are hard to breakdown. Additionally, the tough bran exteriors can especially lead to digestive problems like Crohn’s disease and celiac, and get this, even mental disorders such as depression and ADD.
So what’s a natural mama to do? Process your whole grains.
Now when I talk about processing, I’m not referring to nearly every cereal on the marketplace… the kinds that strip the bran, fractionate the germ, and process at high temperatures to make them crunchy, and to reduce production time. Even the so-called “whole grain” cereals do this.
Truth is, processing whole grains takes time and planning. We can take a clue from ancient societies that wouldn’t think of quick carbs. They put much care and preparation into their grains by soaking, sprouting and sour-leavening. That’s because they instinctively knew what science has proved that grains contain antinutrients like phytic acid, that can bind with important minerals like calcium and zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. Whole grains also contain problematic enzyme inhibitors that can tax our digestive organs. They also contain irritating tannins, complex carbohydrates that the body cannot break down, and gluten which may cause a whole host of problems as most of us know someone nowadays that’s gluten intolerant.
So the key, mamas, is to process your whole grains and I’m going to share 3 of my favorites and show you how to properly prepare.
Oats are an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and the antioxidant selenium. They are also rich in a certain type of dietary fiber that’s proven to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Additionally, in a Tufts University study, oat phenols significantly suppressed the production of artery plaque build up! WOW!
Most people who are gluten intolerant are able to enjoy oats as well.
The key is to prepare them properly. I prefer the steel cut oats since they have a wonderful flavor and are rich in nutrients. So it’s really simple. All you do is soak your oats in luke warm water with a splash of raw apple cider vinegar or lemon for 24 hours. I use about a half a teaspoon per cup of grain. You can soak for an additional 24 hours if you have a sensitive digestive tract, just be sure to change out the water halfway through.
Then go ahead and cook as usual. Delicious! Oatmeal is great as a cereal with raw honey and butter but it’s also fantastic in savory foods like fish and eggs. Mike puts his oatmeal in his morning smoothie!
One of our “ancient grains,” South Americans have been consuming quinoa for over 5,000 years, known for creating stamina in men as well as bolstering breast milk supply in lactating women.
Quinoa is actually a seed and makes up a complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids, making it a great food for vegans. Quinoa is also a great source of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus… and it’s gluten free.
In order to unlock quinoa’s nutrients, we need to soak in lemon or raw vinegar for at least 24 hours, changing out the water every 12 hours. Once you’re done soaking, you cook on the stove top and quinoa is a fast cooking grain, usually done in around 20 minutes.
Quinoa tastes delicious mixed with other grains like wild rice, as well as with beans like pinto and lentils. For those that are gluten intolerant, quinoa makes a great substitute for bulgur in tabouli.
My last favorite is good old brown rice. While long grain brown rice is just OK, I LOVE the nutty flavor and chewy texture of the short grain variety.
Around for nearly 10,000 years, did you know that in some areas of the world, the word for “eat” is translated as “eat rice”? Available year round, rice provides half of the daily calories of half of the global population. Talk about a power grain!
Another gluten free grain, brown rice is loaded with manganese, selenium, and magnesium, not to mention essential fatty acids and dietary fiber.And the nice thing about brown rice is you don’t have to soak if you’re in a pinch since this grain has low levels of anti nutrients.
I love brown rice with vegetable stir fry and I like making rice salad as well, mixing in raw olive oil, fresh vegetables and herbs. Brown rice also makes a good dietary addition to little ones that are 9 months. Griffin also loves brown rice pureed with peaches and yogurt.
So there you have it, Mama Natural’s favorite whole grains.
How about you? What are your favorite grains?