Grains are an important part of every diet. They contribute fiber, which plays a crucial role in good health. Here are 5 ideas for boosting your intake of grains on a daily basis:
1) Quinoa for breakfast – I’m not kidding! Quinoa is a superfood that is high in protein, iron, and a pile of other good nutrients and vitamins. Cook it up and serve it like oatmeal, with all your favorite fixings. I love my morning quinoa topped with a little almond milk, walnuts, hemp hearts, apples and cinnamon, but the possibilities are endless!
2) Millet in your soup – Soup season is here, and though “soup” may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of grains, adding millet, brown rice, quinoa, barley, or other grains to your soups can help you meet your daily grains quota – not to mention add a nice texture! If you have a favorite recipe that you think you could add a grain to, cook up a couple of cups and add it at the end of the process. Or, try a recipe with the grain already incorporated, like the one below:
Millet & Vegetable Soup – from Jen Hoy on About.com
This recipe for millet and vegetable soup hits the spot on a cool day, and can be a one-pot meal. It is an excellent savory breakfast option. You can vary the vegetables according to what you have on hand, or your mood, but make sure you always use the base of carrot/celery/onion. Toasting the millet adds another layer of flavor to the soup.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 leek, chopped
- 1 turnip, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
- 1 sweet potato, cut into bite sized chunks
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 thyme branches
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup millet
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
a) Warm olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add onion, celery, carrots, and leek, and cook 5 minutes, until onion is translucent.
b) Add turnip, sweet potato, bay leaf, thyme, stock and water, and two pinches of sea salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and cook 15 minutes.
c) While soup is cooking, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add millet and toast for 5 minutes, until golden, stirring frequently.
d) Add millet to soup and cook an additional 20 minutes, until millet and vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf and thyme branches, adjust seasoning and serve.
3) A Healthy Vegan’s “Junk Food” – one of my absolute favorite fast go-to healthy vegan meals is steamed greens and veggies on brown rice (or quinoa) with a nice easy tahini-water-tamari sauce (easy) or a little braggs soy sauce (SUPER easy). It’s a great way to get your brown rice – and those greens!
4) Add it to your wraps – I know, I know, I’m all about the wraps. But this is a great way to use up leftover grains, and make a quick, healthy, yummy lunch for yourself! Include ½ cup of brown rice/quinoa/millet along with lots of fresh veggies in a wrap, make yourself a nice peanut sauce for dipping, and presto!
5) Get them in your baking – whole grain waffles, pancakes, breads and muffins are a good way to get grains – just be careful of that sugar factor! There are plenty of wonderful types of flour to experiment with to prevent an overdose of gluten – spelt, quinoa, millet, corn, kamut, rice – all can be made into flours that are healthier, and fun to cook with.
BONUS! Don’t forget that oatmeal! Oatmeal is a great way to start the day, and there are lots of great ways to eat it. Avoid over-processed quick oats and opt instead for rolled oats, or even steel cut oats. If you want to avoid the cooking process, soak them overnight in rice/almond/soy milk, and enjoy with all your favorite toppings.