Cultivating a Taste for Whole Grains
In the last decade, Joanne Slavin, Ph.D., a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, has pinpointed the health benefits of whole grains: One serving daily lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes by 30% to 36%; three servings a day drop the chance of stroke by 36%.
So at home, she aims to give her children, Amy, 15, Sarah, 13, and Andy, 9, one to three servings daily. "Many parents believe that their children should eat only whole grains, but that's not necessary," she explains. "Eating more than three servings daily doesn't seem to bolster the benefits."
The first serving is a snap: one cup of whole-grain cereal such as Cheerios, Raisin Bran, Wheaties, or oatmeal. Then she stocks the kitchen with whole-grain snacks like popcorn and low-fat crackers such as Ak-Mak or Ry-Krisp.
At dinner, Dr. Slavin camouflages whole-wheat pasta in macaroni and cheese and makes a brown rice and lentil casserole from a recipe passed on to her by the kids' Indian babysitter. Still, Dr. Slavin admits, when she gives her kids grilled cheese on whole-wheat bread, they're less than thrilled. "I can't say they'd freely choose whole grains all the time on their own," she says. "I just keep trying, and I don't expect perfection."