If your family prefers white bread, white rice, and traditional pasta, you may be wondering how you can introduce more whole grains at mealtime. While it’s important to limit grains in general, it’s much better to eat whole grains than their heavily processed counterparts. Of course, if your family is used to more processed foods, they may resist trying whole grains at first. Here are a few ways to gently incorporate healthier grain alternatives.
Long-grain brown rice is a very healthy whole grain choice, but it can take some getting used to. Instead of switching all at once from a short grain white rice to a long grain brown, try introducing it slowly. Make a mixture of white rice, long grain brown rice, quinoa, and shredded vegetables like carrots and zucchini. Simmer in chicken or vegetable broth to create a wholesome side dish. You can slowly increase the amount of whole grains each time until everyone gets used to the new texture and taste.
A bowl of steel-cut oats is one of my favorite breakfast choices. You’ll find that steel-cut oats are much different than the instant oatmeal packets you buy at the grocery store—and far better for you, too. Prepare them in a slow cooker or instant pot for a quick and wholesome breakfast. Let your kids add their own toppings, including yogurt, fresh or dried fruit, cinnamon, brown sugar, maple syrup, or nuts.
Sprinkle into Soup
Adding a handful of brown rice, quinoa, bulgar, or barley to your favorite homemade soup recipe is an easy way to add more whole grains to your meal. The chances are that when the grains are disguised in the soup, no one in your family will realize that they are whole grains. If you are in a rush, you can add cooked whole grains to your favorite canned soup.
New, Improved Cereal
If your children enjoy cold breakfast cereal but most of the brands they like are processed and full of sugar, try introducing some healthy alternatives. They may find they like whole grain cereals, and there are now many choices available, including granola, and cereal that contains whole grains like kamut, spelt, or kasha. Be sure to check labels on packaged granola, however, because many brands are packed with sugar; some even include chocolate pieces. Consider making your own granola (you can find many recipes online) and add your favorite dried fruits and nuts to your recipe.
No matter how you introduce whole grains to your family, it’s important that you do so slowly. Don’t eliminate all of their favorite foods overnight, or you’re bound to meet resistance. Instead, try a variety of healthy alternatives until you find a few that everyone likes.