Successful athletes not only work out and practice their daily habits — they learn how to get around in the kitchen, too.
That’s why today we want to share a few tips on how to prepare two kinds of smart carbs: Whole grains and beans.
But first, a few words about whole grains.
Whole grains are WHOLE grains
Whole grains are just that: Whole grains.
The seed of a grass. Intact. As nature made it.
Not like this:
And they sure ain’t this:
Don’t be fooled by what the package label says.
Food labels can use the term “whole grain” to describe food that was made from whole grains.
But processed whole grains (such as whole grain flour) are not whole grains.
When whole intact seeds are processed into flour, they often lose the fiber and nutrients that were there originally.
With less fiber and fewer naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, whole grain cereals and flours are less nourishing. More likely to cause blood sugar issues and energy crashes. Less likely to keep you feeling full and satisfied.
Happy blood sugar + abundant health-promoting nutrients = smart carbs = a leaner body in the long run.
Whole grain cheat sheet
Here’s an abbreviated list of what does qualify as whole grains:
- buckwheat groats (aka kasha)
- steel-cut oats or oat groats
- White, brown, red, or wild rice
- wheat berries (whole wheat grains)
Remember the carb continuum
Now, these whole grains may not be part of your daily menu yet. And you may still be eating more processed whole grain products.
That’s OK. Perfectly fine, if that’s where you are right now.
We’re not saying whole grain flour is “bad”.
Just be aware of what whole grains actually are: Whole grains.
And of course, read labels.
(For instance, the first ingredient in those Ritz whole grain crackers is actually white flour, and the crackers also contain soybean oil, sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and high fructose corn syrup. So “whole grain” as a health claim on the label is a bit of a scam here.)
Remember to move along the “carb continuum” towards smarter choices, little by little — however that looks to YOU.
Quick whole grain and legumes cooking tips!
Because they’re higher in fiber, whole grains take longer to cook than processed grains such as “minute rice” or “instant oats”.
Soak them first
To speed up the cooking of whole grains (and often make them more digestible), you can also soak them beforehand.
This ain’t fancy: Just dump the dry grains into a bowl or pot of water on the counter and leave them for several hours or overnight before cooking.
(Make sure to give them lots of water — they often expand as they absorb liquid.)
Use your kitchen gadgets
A rice cooker is a handy kitchen appliance, and you can use it for any grains — oats, brown rice, quinoa, etc.
You can also plop long-cooking grains in a slow cooker.
For a “you win at life” breakfast: Throw some steel-cut oats (or other grains), chopped fruit, cinnamon, and some liquid (almond milk is nice) into the slow cooker. Then let it simmer, covered, on low heat all night.
This will be pretty awesome to wake up to. You’ll be high-fiving yourself all day.
Make smart carb choices.
Choose high-fiber, slow-digesting, nutrient-rich carbs — fruits and starchy vegetables, beans and legumes, or whole grains — to get your habit done today.
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