Nothing but the whole grain

I am very proud of how far I have come with food and health over the last few years and studying to become a Health Coach is strengthening that in ways I could never have imagined.


Although it’s still early in the course I already feel different. It’s not like I didn’t like who I was before, but the whole holistic approach to the training is so inspiring that I feel like I’m a better, calmer, more patient, in tune version of myself. It’s weird how we unintentionally feel a shift in our lives… if I’d have read this about anyone 10 years ago I would have thought ‘what a load of old b*****ks’, so you’re forgiven for thinking the same about me! But these posts are about my journey therefore it’s only right that I’m honest, even when it takes me out of my comfort zone.


So on to less mushy stuff… I’ve learnt about whole grains! I was itching to cover this as I admit to having known very little previously. To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of most of them! We eat plenty of brown rice at home and eat whole wheat bread, wraps etc, but when it comes to cooking I am a real whole grain newbie.

I’m sure many of you will have them already in your diet but for the benefit of the other newbies like me, I’m going to give you a brief summary of information that we covered.

Here are some of the more common whole grains but this is not an exhaustive list:

Brown rice, Wild rice, Quinoa, Bulgur, Couscous, Rye, Wheat, Millet, Buckwheat/Kasha, Spelt, Oats, Polenta, Teff, Amaranth, Kamut, Barley, Farro. (Many whole grains are gluten free if that’s a concern for you.)

The difference between whole grains and refined grains

Whole grains contain essential enzymes, iron, dietary fibre, vitamin E and B-complex vitamins as well as natural oils. Unfortunately, once exposed to light, air and heat, whole grains can go rancid.

Refined grains have had their outer layer removed during the milling process to allow for a much longer shelf life. However, in doing this, they lose most of the nutrients listed above, so are a less nutritious option.

So if we take rice – brown and white rice are from the same grain, but as white rice has had it’s fibre and nutrients stripped out it becomes a refined carbohydrate (bad) which turns to sugar rapidly. Brown rice however is composed of 80% complex carbohydrates (good), so not only are you getting the goodness, but you will feel fuller for longer.

Storing whole grains

Whole grains are best stored in airtight containers, preferably glass, in a cool dark place. Some people store them in the fridge.

Phytic Acid

Eliminating phytic acid that is found within the outer shell of grains is important, as it can get in the way of your body absorbing some minerals found in other foods in your meal.

With grains, simply cooking them will eliminate some of the phytic acid but it is recommended that most grains (there are a few exceptions) are soaked in advance to eliminate the acid and increase digestibility.

Why eat whole grains?

There is increasingly more research to support the evidence that regularly eating whole grains, as part of a balanced diet, can reduce the risk of many common diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers. Both the fibre and the package of nutrients in the grain work to offer protection.

So there you go, a brief explanation of whole grains! I took the opportunity to experiment with quinoa (and bulgur), taking a mix of recipes to create a delicious Asian Quinoa Salad (recipe to follow next week I hope, just in the process of creating printable recipe cards).

It was delicious, 3 out of 4 of us loved it, one was less impressed but ate it anyway.

asian quinoa 800x258

I’ve also been loving what I like to call my ‘Bowl of Goodness’ each day. Throughout the summer I’ve prepared a bowl a day, most days, for the whole family. I’ll have to think of a ‘Winter Bowl of Goodness’ when some of our favourite seasonal items are not available.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this. I’d love to know if you incorporate whole grains in your diet or if you’d like to include more but don’t know how. Until next week. x