Going with grainsNutrition Month highlights the need to eat healthy, Herald food columnist Jeff Tiedeman says.
By: Jeff Tiedeman, Grand Forks Herald
I always look forward to March. It signals to me that we’ve turned the corner as far as winter is concerned.
I know a lot of you (including my wife) will say that we’ve still got at least a month of snow and cold temperatures — and possibly more — remaining before the weather can accommodate shorts.
I take a different perspective. Come March 20 (spring’s official start), the days will be getting longer. And beginning this coming Sunday, we’ll be on daylight saving time, which means it will be light an hour later in the evening. The sun won’t set until well after 7.
March also is significant for another reason. It’s National Nutrition Month, an education and information campaign created by the American Dietetic Association that focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This year’s theme is “Eat Right.”
For those who set New Year’s goals of getting healthy, and others like me, who are just trying to maintain healthy lifestyles, it’s a good time to re-evaluate how things are going.
One of the things I’m planning to do this year is to get more whole grains into my diet. According the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Pyramid, we should eat six to 11 servings from the grains group, and at least half should be of the whole grain variety (i.e. whole wheat, whole oats/oatmeal, whole grain cornmeal, popcorn, brown rice, whole rye, whole-grain barley, wild rice, buckwheat, triticale, bulgur (cracked wheat), millet, quinoa and sorghum).
Foods made with whole grains are recognized as important sources of nutrients, including fiber, trace minerals and certain vitamins. They also have other health-promoting components and phytochemicals that are not restored through traditional grain enrichment and fortification practices and are believed to play a key role in reducing risk of disease. (Research shows that diets rich in whole grain foods are helpful in reducing the risks of heart disease, certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes and also may aid in weight management.)
I’m already doing pretty fair job of getting more whole grains in my diet. I start my day with oatmeal, and about the only bread we eat (with the exception of Mom’s homemade buns) is whole wheat. And wild rice and brown rice have replaced the refined types (most of the bran and some of the germ is removed) such as white and basmati on our dinner table.
Recently, Craig Hahn, a physical therapist I know at Altru, expressed interest in recipes for risotto, which uses refined arborio rice.
I told him that Therese recently substituted short-grained brown rice for the arborio in risotto, and the result was quite satisfactory.
The brown rice risotto wasn’t quite as white or creamy as one made with arborio would have been, but I’m willing to sacrifice a little in the areas of sight and texture when it comes to my health.
And after all, summer is just around the corner, and I want to look good in shorts.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.