Whole Grains for the Whole Family

Rye BreadKids (and parents!) need whole grains all year round, and autumn is the perfect time to incorporate these nourishing ingredients into your family meal plan. The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that children consume at least 2 to 3 servings of whole grain daily. In addition to lowering the risk of many chronic diseases, fiber-rich whole grains have been proven to keep you feeling full for longer, so you’ll eat less and feel energized all day long. There are plenty of fun ways to get kids eating nutritious and tasty meals, so what are you waiting for?

We spoke with Karen Mansur, program manager of the Whole Grains Council about how to help your family make the switch to whole grains. Here are a few of her tips:

1. Host a family taste test

Make three different whole grain pastas (brown rice, whole wheat and quinoa are some popular possibilities) and vote on the family favorite. Next time you make pasta, use the newly crowned whole grain favorite. Do the same with breads, cereals, pancakes mixes, etc. until you’ve switched out all of the classic meal components with whole grain options. And if your picky eater just does not like one particular grain, don’t worry—there are plenty of others to choose from.

2. Cook whole grains together

“Studies show that cooking with children encourages them to be more adventurous with flavors and textures,” Mansur says. Little ones can help out with simple tasks like measuring and stirring. “Getting their help in the kitchen also creates a bonding opportunity and best of all, teaches an appreciation for the effort required to put together a meal,” Mansur adds.

Here are some easy recipes that incorporate whole grains:

You can also adapt your current recipes by simple substitutions like switching from white to brown rice, or by replacing half the white flour with whole wheat flour for foods like cookies and quick breads.

3. Pack healthy lunches for school (or work)

Switch out potato chips for popcorn, make trail mix by combining whole grain cereal with dried fruit or nuts, or select an oatmeal cookie for dessert. Best of all, the whole grains will help kids stay full and focused for the rest of the school day.

4. Look for the Whole Grain Stamp

If you’re having trouble locating whole grains at the grocery store, just look for the Whole Grain Stamp. Food packages with more than a half serving of whole grains are eligible for the black and gold seal, making it easy for shoppers to identify nutritious options.

Image: Various rye bread via Shutterstock.

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