HeyDahls: The wonderful world of grains!

Q: A serious question here- can you recommend whole grains other than brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat? These are the three that I use all the time but I’d like some variety. Bonus if they are kid friendly- my son eats rice and buckwheat, but not quinoa.


A: Heya! Thank you for writing in!

As you know, I do love whole grains.  They are built into my formula!

Magnet (1)

Mind if I explain whole grains for a moment to catch up other readers?

Whole grains are a nutrient-dense source of plant-based fiber that promote healthy digestion – feeding healthy bacteria in our gut (who needs probiotics?) – and increase metabolic function.  And they are typically missing from the Standard American Diet (SAD) for a couple reasons.

 1) We hear the term ‘whole grain’ but don’t know what it means.

Often when I ask people what a whole grain is, a lot of folks will offer examples of ’whole grain’ products like breads and cereals.

The American public, has been trained out of their intuition around nutrition, as brought to you by General Mills, Kellogg’s… and so on.

When you think of whole grains think of actual kernels of grain that have the natural bran intact. It is the bran that holds the grain’s nutrients and fiber. This means whole grain breads and other products don’t count.

When a grain has the fiber stripped off… say in the case of white rice, that grain is essentially reduced into a simple carbohydrate that is metabolized in the body in the same way that sugar would be… increasing insulin resistance and fat storage.


2) We’re scared of carbs.

Since the mid-90s and the Atkins Diet and a whole other host of diet trends designed to put the body in a ketogenic state to quickly lose weight, many of us think carbs are ‘bad’.

But not all carbs are created equal.

Whole grains as explained above offer an unrefined nutrient-dense source of plant-based fiber that is vital for metabolic and functional health.

Yes, grains are a carb. And no, not all carbs are bad. Seriously. So let go of that sensational mid-90s nonsense.

Our ancestors typically enjoyed diets that were 75% carbohydrate including whole grains and vegetables… Kale for instance is a carb.

Ok… back to your question..

Brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa are fine grains indeed. But it’s always important to rotate your grains, not only to keep meals for you and your family exciting, but to ensure that your body doesn’t develop sensitivities.

If we have the same grain over and over – especially refined grain products -our bodies begin to develop autoimmune responses to them, causing chronic inflammation. The influx of refined wheat products in the American diet I believe accounts for the rise of gluten-sensitivities in the U.S. Keep it fresh, keep it moving so you and your family don’t develop sensitivities.

Grain inspiration!

To start, I recommend playing with different kinds of rice, as they cook up the same way as brown rice. Think red rice and wild rice!

Sometimes just toss a grain into a salad... bonafide, hearty meal!

Sometimes just toss a grain into a salad… bonafide, hearty meal!

I also think that bulgur or cracked wheat is very kid friendly.  And cooks up quickly like quinoa. From soak, rinse, boil, to simmer, no more than 15 minutes!


Other whole wheat grains I enjoy with frequency include farro and freekah.

Also, your family may enjoy millet, which hails from Asia and Africa!  If rice and polenta were to have a baby, it would taste like millet.

Check out this whole grain grain glossary for more inspiration on the wonderful world of grains.

When preparing grains, I recommend simmering in my go-to spice trifecta of turmeric, allspice and cinnamon.

OK! More soooooooon!

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