Just Ask for Whole Grains
 Issue: 67
May 2015
whole grain breads


May GOM   ................................................. 




Amaranth Banana Walnut Bread

This rich, dense, wholesome quickbread is delicious for breakfast and makes a wonderful snack any time of the day. It's also a great way to use up any leftover cooked amaranth - and those slightly too-ripe bananas!

Courtesy of Judith Finlayson, from The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook




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Dear Friends of Whole Grains,

 May is Celiac Awareness Month, so we are delighted to spotlight amaranth, one of the many gluten-free whole grains, as our Whole Grain of the Month.

Rapidly growing in popularity (with a 123% increase in sales in the 52 weeks ending in August 2014), this tiny, peppery grain is showing up in a large number of recipes and products. Unlike other whole grains (such as quinoa or rice), amaranth never loses its crunch completely, but rather softens on the inside while maintaining enough outer integrity so that the grains seem to pop between your teeth. In fact, the sensation of chewing a spoonful of cooked amaranth grains has been compared to eating a spoonful of caviar (without the salty fishiness, of course).

Amaranth is easy to prepare, but beginners should be warned that it tends to release starches while cooking, drastically thickening the cooking liquid. For this reason, we recommend 6 cups liquid per 1 cup amaranth, brought to a boil, the grain simmered for 15 to 20 minutes, then drained and rinsed.

Although amaranth isn't well suited for a pilaf, the cooked grains can be spread on a plate or other flat surface to dry a bit, then sprinkled on salads, added to cookie batters, or stirred into soups. The grain can also be popped, like popcorn. Once you've experimented with amaranth, use some of the leftover cooked grain in this month's featured recipe: Amaranth Banana Walnut Bread.

Whole Grains of the Mediterranean          
The Mediterranean Diet is widely recognized as one of the healthiest diets in the world, and whole grains (in concert with fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, beans, and fish) are a central component of this eating pattern. Based on food from a simpler time, the Mediterranean Diet recognizes whole grains as a scrumptious staple of flavor and energy. In celebration of Mediterranean Diet Month this May, we invite you to sample the traditional whole grains of the Mediterranean.

Give your meals a Mediterranean makeover by presenting them over a bed of farro, emmer, or hulled barley, or complemented with hearty, whole grain bread dipped in olive oil and dukkah, a nut-spice blend. In the Italian tradition, use whole grain cornmeal for the base of a creamy polenta dish, or enjoy a traditional pasta meal with whole grain pasta. If it's eastern Mediterranean flavors that you're drawn to, combine quick cooking bulgur wheat with parsley and other flavorings to make a delightfully herby kisir salad, or fill a whole grain pita with hummus and sliced veggies. To learn more about Mediterranean whole grains, see here.
Health: Whole Grains May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk  

Eating whole grains daily may help keep breast cancer at bay. Approximately 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and lifestyle factors are thought to play an important role in prevention. To determine the relationship between eating patterns and breast cancer, researchers analyzed the diets of 250 newly diagnosed female breast cancer patients, and 250 age-matched controls (without cancer). The scientists found that eating whole grains at least 7 times per week was associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer.

Myth: Grains Cause Diabetes (Not!)

Evidence continually shows that whole grains are thought to be protective against diabetes: a high intake of whole grains reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes as much as 21-30%. Researchers conducting a 2013 meta-analysis of 16 studies exploring the association between whole grain intake and type 2 diabetes concluded that "a high whole grain intake, but not refined grains, is associated with reduced type 2 diabetes risk." They suggest eating at least two servings daily of whole grains to reduce type 2 diabetes risk. More recent research suggests a relationship between whole grain intake and improved functioning of insulin (the hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar). Overeating any type of food can cause weight gain and problems with blood sugar. The best outcomes come from following nutrition recommendations from physicians and dietitians.

Grain Salads for Picnics

At long last, picnic season is finally upon us! For something delicious and nutritious to tote along to an outdoor feast, look no further than whole grain salads. Grain salads are the perfect picnic (or potluck) dish, because they travel well and taste great at room temperature. Below are some of our favorite, most picnic-friendly grain salad recipes. (Pro tip: Overcook your grains just a bit, as they tend to harden when chilled.)
If your pantry is bare or you're crunched for time, you may also be able to choose from a growing number of prepared grain salads at the supermarket. According to our friends at SPINS, refrigerated grain salads saw a whopping 978% increase in sales in 2014, compared to the previous year!


The WGC website Ancient grains are one of the hottest food trends of our time. If you'd like to learn more about these nutrient powerhouses (Which grains are considered 'ancient'? What are the health benefits?), then check out our newly created ancient grains webpage


Best regards from all of us at Oldways and the Whole Grains Council,  

Kelly Toups, MLA, RD, LDN                                   
Program Manager                                                        
Oldways  /  Whole Grains Council       

Cynthia Harriman
Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies
Oldways  /  Whole Grains Council  
Harley Songin                                   
Stamp Program Assistant  Manager                                                        
Oldways  /  Whole Grains Council          


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