By Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom
The message that we should include fiber-rich starches as part of a healthy diet is one that comes across loud and clear. But 100% whole wheat, brown rice, whole oats – while tasty – can produce taste bud fatigue over time. I’m often asked what other options are out there.
I’d like to expand your whole-grain repertoire with some of my favorites. They’re easy to prepare and will keep your taste buds stimulated.
It’s time to shake up your whole grain starches! The following grains are all readily available in local supermarkets and are gluten-free for those of you on this dietary regimen.
Buckwheat: This fiber- and protein-rich grain has no connection to wheat, despite its name. It’s the base of Japanese soba noodles. Also known as “kasha,” it can substitute for your morning oatmeal as a hot cereal.
Quinoa: This grain has a nutty flavor and a slightly crunchy/chewy texture, and it cooks up in less than 15 minutes. Rich in fiber and protein, it’s a wonderful side dish that can be served hot or cold.
Millet: While we in the U.S. might associate this grain with birdseed, most of the world uses millet as a protein- and fiber-rich starch in multiple ways. It can be mashed or fluffed up and added to a variety of soups, stews, and salads.
For the more adventurous palate…here’s a new grain I’ve tried. It’s not readily available in stores, but it’s easy to find online (bobsredmill.com).
Teff: With a sweet, nutty flavor, this favorite of Africa is calcium- and iron-rich. Try it as a hot breakfast cereal. It’s also a great fat-free thickener for soups, stews, and sauces.
As with many nutrient-rich foods, “healthy” doesn’t always mean “low-calorie” when it comes to grains. But because these grains are all fiber- and protein-rich, a modest portion (½ to 1 cup cooked) is going to be very satisfying as part of any meal. Enjoy!