The food we eat is generally categorized into 5 major food groups: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Milk, and Protein. Each of the food groups provide different essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. This is why it is so important to try and have foods from each of the different food groups on a daily basis.
So what essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients do grains provide, let’s find out.
What Grains Provide?
B vitamins: Thiamin, Folate, Niacin, and Riboflavin. These B vitamins help with various metabolic processes. They help release energy from protein, fats and carbohydrates. Folate or Folic acid is also important in forming blood cells, and for pregnant women, it can help prevent neural tube defects, like spina bifida, in your unborn child.
Minerals: Iron, Magnesium, Selenium. Magnesium helps build bones and Selenium helps protect your cells from harmful breakdown. Iron is important in moving oxygen around your body.
Fiber: Helps keep you regular, who doesn’t want that? It may also have benefits for your heart, so eat up!
What Types of Grains are there?
Grains are generally divided into two groups: refined and whole grain. Refined grains are grains which have had nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber removed during processing. Whole grains do not have these nutrients removed. They are generally considered “healthier” for you because they still have all the beneficial vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Just because whole grains contain more health benefits, it doesn’t mean you can only eat them. Good nutrition is about balance, I like to recommend eating half your grains as whole grains.
Whole Grains Examples: 100% whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa
Refined Grains Examples: All purpose flour (or baked goods made with it) white bread, white rice
Sometimes it can be hard to think of ways to incorporate the different food groups into a meal. So here is a very simple idea of how to use grains (quinoa and brown rice) in a recipe.
Veggie, Meatball, and Brown Rice/Quinoa Bowl
1 medium Zucchini
½ medium Yellow Onion
½ Yellow Bell Pepper
½ Red Bell Pepper
1-2 handfuls of Cherry Tomatoes
1 handful of Baby Carrots
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup Uncooked Brown Rice
1 pkg. pre-cooked Italian Meatballs
Prepare Brown Rice according to instructions on package. Cut zucchini, onion, bell peppers, and carrots into bit size pieces. Combine all the vegetables on a tinfoil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle the olive oil, salt and peppers over the vegetables. Toss the vegetables a few times to evenly coat the vegetables with olive oil mixture. Add the meatballs to the cookie sheet and place in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 F. Once vegetables are roasted, and the meatballs are warmed thru, combine with brown rice and serve.
· Cook the vegetables for the indicated time and temperature given on the packaging for the meatballs.
· I often use Seeds of Change Organic Quinoa and Brown Rice Microwaveable packets. So easy and fast!
Resources: Choose My Plate Website