Go With The Grain
Grains have been in existence for centuries and come in many varieties. Barley, amaranth, quinoa, teff, wild rice, millet, spelt, and bran are just a few of the grains that have sustained man for over 10,000 years. A grain consists of a protective husk; the bran, a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals; the endosperm, a starchy source of complex carbohydrates; and the germ, the embryo of the grain, which contains a small amount of protein, vitamins and minerals.
Whole grains have not been manipulated or refined; they contain the endosperm, bran, and germ of the grain. The bran and germ contain that largest amount of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Refined grains do not contain the bran and germ, only the starchy endosperm.
Whole grains offer an array of benefits including antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Other than being an excellent source of fiber, whole grains provide B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, and iron. The medical community has acknowledged the health benefits of whole grains in lowering the risk of obesity, diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
In order to inform consumers as to the percentage of whole grain in a product, three gold “stamp” images have been designed for product labeling. The gold stamps indicate if the grain is 100% whole (with a minimum of 16g per serving) 50% whole grain, or less than 50% whole grain. Prior to the gold stamp, the only indication of the degree of whole grain was labeled as, “100% Excellent Source,” “Excellent Source,” or “Good Source.”
The 2015 Dietary Recommendations developed by the USDA indicate that women should consume 5-6 ounces of grains per day and men, 6-8 ounces per day with at least half of these grains being whole grains.
Not All Carbs Are Alike
Many people consider grains as evil carbohydrates and have sworn them off due to their expanding waistlines. There are many popular diets that encourage the omission of carbohydrates for limited amounts of time, in order to “reset” the body to a ketogenic state. In moderation, this might be beneficial, however over the long term, it impacts the body in a less than positive manner. Furthermore, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Grains contain the complex carbohydrate structure that the body requires for energy and metabolic balance.
Think Twice About Rice
Rice is an excellent grain to incorporate into the diet because it is gluten-free, low-fat, and cholesterol-free. Brown rice is recommended, due to its lower fat and carbohydrate counts, and higher fiber count, when compared to white rice. Neither brown nor white rice contains the outer husk, but white rice is processed, polished and is stripped of the nutrient-providing bran and germ. Brown rice retains the bran and germ, therefore, much more nutritious. This recipe calls for an aromatic blend of herb-seasoned organic rice: long grain wild, sweet brown, red, and black rice.
Nutritious and Flavorful
Red bell peppers (actually, bell peppers in general) are often overlooked as a “superfood”. They provide more vitamin C than an orange, as well as vitamins A and K, folate, thiamin, copper, and magnesium. They’re naturally low-fat with zero cholesterol, low-sodium, and low-carbohydrates. Additionally, bell peppers contain phenolic compounds, cartenoids, and free-radicals–all of which assist the body in warding off toxins and disease. Red bell peppers are semi-sweet and go perfect with the savory wild rice mixture. The combination of fruits and nuts in the mixture increases the nutritional value, enhances the texture, and balances out the palate.
Wild Rice Stuffed Red Bell Pepper (serves 1)
1Red Bell Pepper
1 cup wild rice mix (Lundberg Organic Wild Rice Blend)
1 3/4 cups water or broth
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup red onion (chopped)
2-3 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 350F
- Cook the rice according to directions.
- Cut tops off of pepper and clean out seeds
- When rice is done, add raisins, nuts, onions, and cheese (optional); combine well
- Scoop rice mixture into pepper; top pepper with remaining cheese
- Place pepper in glass baking dish; add 1-2 inches of water to baking dish
- Place in oven and bake 40 minutes (or until pepper is tender)
- 1/4 cup dry rice equals about 3/4 cooked rice; it is not necessary to rinse the rice prior to cooking
- If an organic, pre-seasoned rice blend isn’t available, make your own. Add to rice: parsley, thyme, onion and/or garlic powder, rosemary, oregano, marjoram or sage.
- For a dairy-free version, omit cheese
- Substitute walnuts with pecans, pumpkin seeds, or almonds
- Substitute raisins with chopped apricot, apple, or dried cranberries
Integrative Nutrition is the world’s largest nutrition school and Health Coach Training Program. Through our innovative, one-year online course, students learn the principles of health coaching, business skills, and over 100 different dietary theories with lectures by the world’s leading experts.