Grains form an integral part of a vegan diet. If you are trying to follow the plant plate for a healthy and nutrient-rich plant-based diet, you will see that grains are the centerpiece of each meal with 5 or more recommended servings per day.
This is why I consider it important that we get better acquainted with this essential food group! Grains are rich in fiber and other complex carbohydrates, as well as protein, B vitamins and zinc. Here are some specifics about grains and the best ways to integrate them into your meals!
Introduce whole grains into your diet and make the refined grains a once-in-a-while choice.
What are whole grains?
While whole grains differ in size, color, appearance, texture, and taste, they all have something in common – their anatomy. They all contain an outer layer of bran, the main source of fiber in the grains. Each variety of grain contains a reproductive germ, an excellent source of vitamin E, known for its antioxidant qualities. The germ is what allows each grain to potentially produce a whole new plant. The endosperm, the light colored area encased by the bran, is the largest portion of the grain and offers considerable protein. Enjoy whole grains in the same way you might serve rice.
10 Smart & Delicious Ways To Use Grains
1. Make your breakfast with whole grain cereals,
such as oatmeal, Cream of Rye, quinoa flakes, barley flakes, cornmeal mush, Zoom, Malt-O-Meal.
2. Turn your breakfast cereal into a delicious sundae
with chopped fresh fruits in season or a sprinkle of raisins, date nuggets, currants, chopped nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds. If you like to sweeten your cereal, turn to maple syrup, agave nectar, date sugar, or experiment with using a sweetened soy milk to top your “breakfast sundae.” The variety is limitless. Whole grain dry cereals are abundant. Your local supermarket has some of these, but a natural food market offers the widest variety.
Look for cereals that contain at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, preferably higher. Many whole-wheat cereals contain 5 or 6 grams of fiber per serving.
4. Buy whole grain breads rather than refined white breads.
Whole grain breads are higher in fiber and contain most of the B vitamins that have been processed out of the breads made with white flour.
5. Cook brown rice rather than white rice.
Yes, it does take a bit longer, but your health is worth much more than the extra 20 or 30 minutes it takes to cook the whole grains. Wild rice is a flavor delight with wonderful flavor, pleasantly chewy texture, and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving compared to 1 gram for white rice.
6. Pearled or pressed barley, an excellent source of soluble fiber
that helps to lower cholesterol, can perk up a meal with its own unique texture and taste. Barley makes a delicious addition to soups and can be used any way you might serve rice.
7. Polenta, made from whole grain cornmeal, offers great diversity in meal planning.
Think of polenta as a base for topping with a wide variety of steamed, stir-fried, or roasted vegetables and topped with a tomato-based sauce, pesto, creamed sauces made with soymilk or nutmilk, or vegetable sauces.
8. Look to natural food markets for good prices in bulk grains such as quinoa,
millet, spelt berries, rye berries, oat groats, whole-wheat berries, and buckwheat. If these are not available in bulk, they are certain to be sold in packages.
9. Enjoy some whole-grain pastas in place of the usual highly refined pastas
made of enriched durum wheat. Natural food markets sell pastas in a variety of traditional shapes that are made from quinoa, spelt, rice, barley, buckwheat, and whole wheat. The textures will be noticeably different, but these offer a higher fiber content than enriched durum wheat pasta.
and reap the benefits of higher levels of vitamins and minerals. The sprouting process activates the germ to reproduce and increase its storehouse of nutrients. To sprout grains, purchase whole, organic grains and place them in a large bowl. When judging how much grain to sprout, note that the grains will absorb water and double in size. Cover generously with water and soak them overnight. The next day, drain off the water and transfer the grains to a 1-quart jar. Cover the jar with a double or triple layer of cheesecloth held in place with a rubber band. Rinse and drain the grains about three times during the day without removing the cheesecloth and lay the jar on its side after each rinse. Tiny white sprouts should be visible the next day. The sprouted grains should be ready to eat within a day or two and can be added to salads, soups, or sprinkled over almost any of your favorite foods.
Sprouted grains can be eaten raw, dehydrated, or cooked.
Are you a fan of grains? How often do these get served on your table?
I’m eager to hear the most creative ways you like to use this food group as a vegan!
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