Hearty whole grains

The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans note that when it comes to eating grains in our diet, half our intake should come from whole grains. To be classified as a “whole” grain, the food product must contain all three components of the grain; namely the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran component contains most of the fiber. The germ contains most of the vitamins and minerals and the endosperm contains the starch.

Looking at the label and the ingredient listing is the best way to determine if the product you are using is a whole grain, and even this can be confusing at times. For example, a bread product that is listed as “Wheat Bread” does not mean that it is a whole wheat product. Rather it means that it is a bread product that is made from wheat flour. If you want to purchase a wheat bread that is made from whole grains, then the label should read “Whole Wheat Bread” and in the ingredient list the first ingredients should include whole wheat flour. Other types of breads may be made with other types of flours and so reading the label and ingredient list help you determine if you have a whole grain product or not.

In addition to whole wheat bread, oatmeal is also a favorite whole grain, especially when it is cold outside and we embrace our hearty comfort foods. Oatmeal is a popular breakfast food and enjoyed by many to get their morning off to a healthy start. Oatmeal comes in different forms, such as whole, rolled, steel-cut or quick-cooking. In addition to January being National Soup and National Tea Months, National Oatmeal Month is also recognized this month as well.

I must admit that I have never been a big fan of a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, or really any type of hot or cold cereal as a breakfast item for that matter. My personal preference would be for toast, muffins, granola bars and things along that line for my grain serving at breakfast. So last week when we had a breakfast potluck of sorts among co-workers, someone brought a baked oatmeal dish that was really tasty. She had tweaked the original recipe a bit to work out some of the fat and it was delicious. The recipe contains healthy whole grains, dried fruits to add some antioxidants and sweetness and milk to add the nutrition from dairy products. It is a healthy choice that tastes good — who can go wrong with that! Thanks AU for sharing your recipe with us! Following is her recipe:

Overnight Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 cups skim milk (or 2 cups almond milk and 1 cup skim milk)

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp canola oil

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp salt

2 cup old-fashioned oats

1/4 cup dried blueberries

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Directions

1. In a large bowl, whisk together first six ingredients. Stir in oats, blueberries and cherries. Transfer to a greased 8 inch square baking dish. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove oatmeal from refrigerator while oven heats. Stir oatmeal; sprinkle with almonds. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown and a thermometer reads 160 degrees, about 40-50 minutes. Serve warm.

Yield: 8 servings

Nutrition Information per serving: 240 calories, 35 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams protein, 8 grams fat

Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.

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