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By - Zonya Foco, R.D.
Any nutritionist will tell you, “Eat a variety of food for good health.” So just how diversified is your diet?
Do you shake it up at the grocery store and farmers market by including rainbow chard, eggplant, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, peaches, mangoes and a variety of apples instead of the same old standbys? Do you mix up your fish, chicken, vegetarian, beef and pork meals throughout the week, or are you in a beef, chicken, beef, beef, chicken rut? And what about your grains? Have you ventured past wheat, corn, rice and oats?
Yes, there are definitely many grains worth adding to your whole-grain portfolio on a regular basis. Barley, rye, spelt, millet, buckwheat, quinoa and kamut. I hope you can see that grains are certainly another area where we can expand the variety of food we eat!
Some of you might be wondering, “What’s the big deal? What does it matter whether I’m eating the same whole grain or a variety, as long as I’m eating whole grain?” I’m sooooo glad you asked!
A growing number of nutritionists feel the reason we have more wheat allergies today may be due to our over dependence on wheat in our diets.
Just focusing on “whole wheat” isn’t the complete answer for your health in the long haul. Diversifying your whole-grain portfolio is.
Another benefit to eating a variety of whole grains is that it helps us get the chromium we need, which works toward preventing type 2 diabetes. Also helps us get more folic acid to keep homocysteine (home-o-sis-teen) lower in our blood, which is another “artery clogger” like cholesterol. And probably most importantly, you’ll get more disease-fighting anti-oxidants when eating a variety of whole grains.
So what’s stopping you? If you aren’t venturing past the traditional standbys on a regular basis, it probably has a lot to do with not knowing what to do with some of these selections when you get them home! The answer to that is simple: the Internet! Just type into your browser “recipes for quinoa,” or “barley,” or “buckwheat.” Whatever you want, and bingo, you’re on your way to an exciting day in the kitchen and at your table!
While there are tons of recipes to choose from, one surefire easy way to diversify your whole grains that even my 10-year-old son loves is simply to replace traditional wheat pasta for a rye, buckwheat, spelt or kamut pasta when making spaghetti, goulash or healthy mac and cheese.
My personal brand favorite for a variety of whole-grain pastas is Eden, and they are all organic—a super bonus! They also have a huge array of delicious recipes using all sorts of different whole grains listed on their Web site. In fact, here are two I think you’ll find especially delicious! Quinoa Salad with Asparagus and Fresh Basil and Spirals with Garbanzos, Olives and Artichokes.
You can even order directly from Eden online and receive a 15% discount when using the code “ZONYA.” Click here to check out Eden’s recipes and their 100% whole-grain and 60% whole-grain pastas (a brilliant way to step into whole grain), among their many other choices. They also offer a variety of rolled grains that cook up like oatmeal that you can find listed under “whole grains” on their site.
So here’s to diversifying your whole-grain portfolio for a “wealth of health” for years to come!