Various studies have shown that our food choices have a direct impact on our health and immunity, which in turn, save us from the slippery path towards obesity and some chronic diseases. Hence, it is important to not just include more greens and fruits in the diet but also to completely avoid or at least limit the consumption of refined grains, says Priya Prakash, a certified nutrition coach.
“This is because refined grains are stripped of the nutritious bran and germ layers. All they contain are endosperm, which provides only carbohydrates and negligible amounts of the other nutrients. Apart from being low in nutrition, refined flours like maida, are produced using harmful chemicals during the bleaching process,” says Prakash.
“Whole-grains, on the other hand, contain all the components of a grain ie bran, germ and endosperm. They are a healthy source of proteins, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Since they are high in fibre, they also help you to stay fuller for a longer period of time.
On World Food Day, she suggests 4 healthy whole grains that make an ideal replacement for refined grains like white rice and maida.
Millets are rich in protein and are also an amazing source of calcium. Some of the traditional varieties of millets in India are little millet, foxtail millet, kodo millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, ragi, jowar and bajra.
“Traditionally, millets are sprouted and ground to make porridge for babies as a weaning food. Sprouting increases the bioavailability of nutrients in the millets that increases its health benefits. It is not only highly nutritious but also easy to digest,” shares Prakash. You can skip rice and replace them with millets and it can also be ground into flour, that can be used for making cookies, rotis, cakes etc.
If you are a vegan, quinoa is most likely your go-to food item and also one of the best sources of plant-based proteins. “It is called a complete protein because it contains adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids. It is also an excellent source of antioxidants, dietary fibres, vitamins and minerals,” shares Prakash. Quinoa can be used in a variety of dishes like pulao, salad, among others.
The easiest way to cook quinoa:
1) Wash quinoa under running tap water at least 2-3 times.
2) In a saucepan, add 1 cup of water for ½ cup of quinoa. When the water starts boiling, reduce the flame to low.
3) Now, cover the pan with a lid and allow it to cook for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then fluff it with a fork.
Buckwheat or kuttu is gluten-free and a highly nutritious seed. “It can be used in the flour form to make rotis, puris or baked goods. Buckwheat groats/hulled buckwheat can be cooked and consumed as an alternative to white rice,” says Prakash.
In order to cook buckwheat, roast it on low flame for about 5-6 minutes till it has a light golden colour. Next, add 1.5 cups of water for 1 cup of buckwheat. When the water begins to boil, reduce the flame to low. Cover it with a lid and cook for 15 minutes or until it absorbs the water.
The perfect way to have a hearty meal in the morning is to consume these variants of oats: whole oats, rolled oats, or steel-cut oats. Apart from being gluten-free and high in fibre, they offer a host of health benefits like: aid in digestive health, weight management and prevent constipation.
They are super easy to prepare, either as a sweet or savoury meal:
1) Bring 2 cups of water or milk to a gentle boil on low-medium heat.
2) Add 1 cup whole/steel cut oats and stir nicely. Cover it with a lid and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes until the oats reach the desired level of chewiness. Note that rolled oats need a much shorter cooking time since they are pre-steamed.
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