Whole Grains

Five weeks (holy cow-I can’t believe it has already been 5 weeks!) of my DI complete and I am finally getting into the swing of things. I have my daily routine down, feel a lot less overwhelmed, and still have time to explore Cleveland and spend a few hours at the grocery store ;).

The highlight of last week was working an outreach table at the outpatient pediatric clinic in the hospital. I spent the day educating patients about the importance of whole grains. I made a poster (which I don’t think I have done since high school), a handout, compiled some recipes, and played a whole grain game with some of the kids. Having quality conversations with some of the parents definitely made me feel like I was making a difference, but playing games with the kids continuously put a smile on my face throughout the day. And even better, not only did I have fun playing with them, they were also able to learn what whole grains were and be introduced to new food items to try! Win-Win!

Since I had the opportunity to teach so many people in the clinic about whole grains, I thought I would share the knowledge here.

Whole grainFirst off…What is a whole grain? You have probably heard of them, but do you really know what they are? A whole grain means that the product contains all three parts of the grain- the germ, endosperm, and bran. White or refined grains only contain the endosperm. The bran and germ are important because they have vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats, whereas the endosperm is made mostly of starch.

Whole grains have also been found to prevent stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and constipation. I don’t know about you, but I think those reasons alone are enough to want some whole grains in my everyday meals.

Ok, now that I hopefully have convinced you to eat some whole grains, you have to find them at the store. This can be the tricky part. Lots of packages slap phrases like “100% wheat” and “multi-grain” across the front to pull you in, but these phrases do not mean it is a whole grain. Here’s what you should look for:

  • Check the ingredient list on the box. If a food is a whole grain, the very first word on the ingredient list will be “whole” (ie. Whole wheat flour, whole grain oats, etc.).
  • Words like “brown rice” “bulgur” “quinoa”, “oats” and “wheat berries” listed first in the ingredients also always mean it is a whole grain.
  • Even if the front of the box says “5g of whole grain”, check the ingredients. While it might have some whole grain, if it is not the first ingredient, then the majority of the product is a refined grain.

There are lots of other whole grains including bulgur, millet, farro, barley, amaranth, buckwheat, and rye, which are great for adding to soups and salads or as a side dish. Those sound a little foreign? Try oatmeal or whole grain cereal (like Cheerios) for breakfast. Air-popped popcorn and whole grain crackers (like Wheat Thins) are perfect whole grain snacks. Even using whole grain bread on your lunch sandwich is a step in the right direction.

Making the switch to whole grains can be hard, but small steps can make it easier. A good rule of thumb is the make at least half of the grains you eat each day whole grains. You can also use this as an opportunity to try some new foods!

Here are some pictures from my outreach in the clinic!

Overnight Oats

I can’t believe it has already been two weeks since moving back to Cleveland! I am officially done with 1 week of my Dietetic Internship (48 more to go!) and have been very busy. Hopefully this weekend I’ll have some time to write a full update on how it is going, but for now, I thought I would share one of my favorite breakfasts.

While oatmeal is definitely one of my go-to breakfasts in the morning, it isn’t easy to take on the go. Now that I am waking up early to get to work at the hospital, I need something that I can take with me in the car. The solution? Overnight oats!

It took some trial and error to get the recipe just right and a few tries before I got use to the texture, but now I love ‘em! I can throw all the ingredients in a jar at night, pop it in the fridge, and wa-lah – breakfast is ready to go when I wake up.

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All the ingredients for my recipe

If you aren’t familiar, overnight oats are made by putting raw, rolled oats in a jar with yogurt or milk. While the oats soak overnight, they absorb the moisture and soften up. The first time I tried making overnight oats, I was expecting them to taste and feel like cooked oat (which they don’t). They still kind of feel raw…like I said, it takes some getting use to.

Anyways, I love that you can make so many different flavors. My favorite is banana and cinnamon (see the recipe below), but I have done strawberry peanut butter, chocolate coconut, and pumpkin spice (the options are endless). Here is the step by step of what mine look like.

 

  1. oats       2. yogurt       3. banana       4. cinnamon     5. chia seeds      6. mix!

I like my overnight oats to be pretty thick so I don’t add any liquid but you can always put in a splash of milk, almond milk, or egg whites if you like it runnier. I also add chia seeds, which absorb moisture and give it a thicker, pudding texture. Again, you can add more and less chia seeds than I do to give it the texture you like. It might take a few tries but there is no wrong way.

Let me know what your favorite overnight oat mixtures are. I am always looking for new ones to try!

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P.S. I have found that the oats stay good for 3-4 days in the fridge so you can make a bunch of jars to have for the week (no excuses for not eating breakfast!)

Kodiak Cakes

Since school is out and I have plenty of time in the mornings to make a big breakfast, I thought I would share one of my favorite grocery finds: Kodiak cakes.

Kodiak Cakes is a company that makes all sorts of pancake & waffle mixes, dessert mixes, oatmeals and granolas. While I haven’t tried many of the products, the two pancakes and waffle mixes I have tried are delicious!Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 11.35.10 PM

The two I have tried are the Protein Packed Flapjack Mix and the Protein Packed Peanut Butter Flapjack Mix. Why Kodiak Cakes over the other pancake mixes?

  • The protein packed kind I buy has 14g of protein per serving!
  • The mix only has whole wheat grains (including whole grain wheat flour and whole grain oat flour).
  • I can read and pronounce every single ingredient in the mix (and there are only 7 of them).
  • There is no bleached white flour or artificial additives in the mix.
  • They only have 3g of sugar per serving.

In order to have a healthy and balanced meal, we need a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat at each meal. Because pancakes are typically all carbs, they can get a bad wrap for being too much like dessert for breakfast. That is why I love this protein packed mix. It takes care of the protein that is typically missing in pancakes.

Now, since Kodiak Cakes has our carb and protein needs covered, all we need is a little healthy fat. That’s where I turn to my beloved nut butter collection. Just drizzle some nut butter on your pancakes and you are good to go with a balanced breakfast.

Still aren’t convinced these pancakes can be healthy?

Lets take oatmeal, for example. Many times, the little instant packets of oatmeal have just as many (if not more) carbs than a serving of regular pancakes mix, with no fat or protein. We often make oatmeal out to be some much healthier than pancakes when really they have almost the exact same nutrients (almost all carbs).

I will say that oatmeal typically has more fiber than regular, white flour pancakes, but neither makes for a very balanced meal because there is no fat or protein. Now, oatmeal can be made into a balanced meal by added protein (egg whites or greek yogurt) and healthy fat (nut butter, flax seeds, chia seeds, almonds, etc.) just the same way that protein and fat can be added to pancakes.

My point is that we just have to be aware of what is in our food. Oatmeal may seem healthier than pancakes, but they are really quite similar. By adding protein and fat to either oatmeal or pancakes, you will have equally healthy and balanced meals.

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My Protein Packed Kodiak Cakes with banana slices and cashew butter

I happen to love mixing up my typical morning oatmeal with a big plate of pancakes every now and then so I always turn to my Protein Packed Kodiak Cakes for a balanced breakfast.

Want more info on Kodiak Cakes? http://www.kodiakcakes.com/

My New Oatmeal Obsession

I have always struggled to eat a good breakfast. I’m simply don’t really like to eat a lot in the morning. Most of high school I went without breakfast or just grabbed some fruit for the car ride. While fruit is not a bad option, I always found myself hungry after an hour or two and was starving by the time lunch came around.

I recently got very frustrated with this vicious cycle on not wanting to eat breakfast and then being hungry all morning. I thought there had to be something that was healthy, quick, and filling.

I tried yogurt, eggs, and granola bars but nothing really made me feel great or kept me full. The only thing I hadn’t tried: Oatmeal.

Unless it was in a cookie, oatmeal always kind of freaked me out. The mushy texture reminded me of baby food and was very unappetizing, but I decided I would give it another try.

I went to the grocery store and stared at the shelf of a zillion oatmeal choices reading every box to see what would be the best choice. I wanted something that had little sugar and wasn’t highly processed. I found Better Oats Oat Revolution Steel Cut Instant Oatmeal with Flax (I got the Maple and Brown Sugar variety) to be a good option. It only had 5 ingredients and had added flax for and extra fiber and Omega-3 boost.

Oatmeal Pic

The next morning was the big taste test. I had no expectations and almost had to force the first mushy spoonful into my mouth. Much to my surprise, it was not nearly as bad as I had expected. In fact, I wanted another spoonful. It wasn’t too flavorful so for someone like me who doesn’t like to eat in the morning, it was great. That day was the first in many years that I went to work/school without my stomach rumbling at 10:00am, and I was actually shocked that I didn’t feel the need to inhale as much as I could during lunch.

Since that day a few weeks ago, oatmeal has been my breakfast pretty much every day. I am definitely looking forward to be able to sit through my morning classes at school without counting down the minutes until lunch.

Overall:

  • I am now obsessed with oatmeal!
  • Make sure you buy instant oats so they are quick and easy to make
  • When choosing an oatmeal, make sure it has minimal sugar (Quaker Dinosaur Eggs and many other brands are loaded with sugar)
  • Add fruit or spices to make your oatmeal more flavorful
  • Add flax (if it’s not already included) for extra fiber to keep you full