The learning curve for dating a food blogger is steep. Not only are you handed a whole new culinary lexicon to commit to memory (the.boy may not necessarily know the difference between bulgur and quinoa, but he can use them in a sentence!) but there are also a whole slew of new holidays that you must commit to memory and really should try to remind your girlfriend about ahead of time (for example, by saying “hey sweetie, so what are you going to post on your blog for “insert food holiday here” in two weeks?). And if you happen to buy her a present for said holiday…so much the better. Especially in the case of World Nutella Day. (cough cough wink wink nudge nudge).
What you should not do is arch your eyebrows and say, with a tone in your voice, “You made that up” when your girlfriend informs you that today is Whole Grain Sampling Day(!!!). Especially not when you know your girlfriend is kinda crazy about whole grains. Just a thought.
But seriously, what’s there to not be crazy about?!
I know many people out there are on the fence about whole grains. They do tend to have a very distinct nuttier, fuller flavor than refined grains and are, on the whole, chewier. (Which is what I love about them.) But if you grew up on refined grains, you may find these unfamiliar flavors and textures to be weird and not super appealing.
Quite frankly, I think the key to enjoying whole grains is to not compare them to refined grains. They are just not ever going to taste the same, end of story. But by thinking of them in their own right and trying them prepared in many different ways, I guarantee you will be able to find one that you like and, over time, my guess is that your palate will get more and more used to the flavor and texture and you’ll learn to love them even more!
So with that being said, you may be wondering – why should you even bother to eat whole grains? What are the perks?
I’m sure many of you know this, but there are a ton of health benefits associated with eating whole grains. They are chock full of antioxidants – wheat and oats almost equal broccoli and spinach in health-protective antioxidant activity – as well as vitamins, minerals, and fiber – most of which are removed during the refining process. In addition, eating an average of two and a half servings of whole grain foods each day can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by almost one-quarter and three servings a day can reduce blood pressure and stroke risk. I mean really, if that’s not incentive…I’m not sure what is.
Being that today is Whole Grain Sampling Day, there is a ton of stuff going on in the interwebs and possibly even in your local supermarket to celebrate! Specifically, today at noon (EST) there will be a nationwide toast on twitter during which anything goes! Feel free to tweet about your favorite grain, snap a shot of yourself enjoying a whole grain treat, anything to celebrate the whole grain! Make sure to include the hashtag #SampleWholeGrains in your tweet!
And here on Eats Well With Others, we are celebrating by holding an awesome GIVEAWAY!!! When I decided to join in as a Whole Grain Ambassador, I was sent a box full of some serious goodies by the Whole Grains Council, including but not limited to:
- Whole Grain Sampling Day t-shirt
- Among Friends Baking Mix – Gluten-Free Molasses Cookie Mix
- Barbara’s Bakery – Shredded Oats Cereal
- Bob’s Red Mill – Gluten Free Muesli
- Carl Brandt – Mestemacher Sunflower Seed Bread
- Dr. Kracker – Engine 2 Crispbreads (5-seed)
- Freekehlicious – Whole Grain Freekeh
- Frontier Soups – Montana High Plains Wheat Berry Chili
- Goose Valley Natural Products – Brown & Wild Rice Fusion
- HomeFree Treats – Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Jovial Foods – Einkorn and Brown Rice Pastas
- Nabisco – Classic Wheat Thins and Black Pepper Brown Rice Triscuits
- Pamela’s Products – Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookie Mix
- Real McCoy’s Snax – Gluten-Free Sea Salt and Sweet & Spicy Brown Rice Chips
- Tasty Bites – Garlic Brown Rice
- Upfront Foods – Straight Up Nutty Granola
- Way Better Snacks – Sprouted Tortilla Chips
- Fabe’s All Natural Bakery Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
And..you could win a box full of all this awesomeness too!! All you have to do to enter is a leave a comment telling me what your favorite whole grain is! The giveaway will run through next Wednesday, April 9th, when I will announce the winner.
Disclosure: I received a selection of whole grain products to sample for free but was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.
To celebrate Whole Grain Sampling Day even further, I couldn’t leave you without a fabulous whole grain-infused recipe, now could I?
I recently received a copy of a wonderful new cookbook called Modern Mediterranean. I’ll do a more in-depth review once I’ve made a few more recipes from it but if the rest of the recipes are anything like this vegetable stew, then it’s going to be a serious winner. As soon as I saw the title for this recipe I knew I needed to have it. I’m a sucker for any savory dish that contains cinnamon and ginger, and when you add in a ton of vegetables I become even more sold.
The recipe is actually very simple and really just has you make a spiced broth by simmering vegetables and spices in water for about 20 minutes total. What you end up with is a richly flavorful dish filled with so much vegetable goodness that I could hardly take it! The original recipe had you serve the stew over a bowl of couscous but in celebration of the whole grain, I decided to replace it with millet which is similar in size and texture when cooked but with a ton more fiber, protein, and nutrients! In all, it was a fabulous meal that even my not-quite-as-enthusiastic-about-whole-grains boyfriend loved.
One year ago…Vegetarian Cassoulet, Sweet Potato Chili Mac
Three years ago…Nigerian Baked Beans with Spiced Carrot and Zucchini Barley
Vegetables in Spiced Broth Over Millet
Serves 4-5, adapted from Modern Mediterranean
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp harissa
- 2 tsp salt, or more to taste
- 2 sprigs fresh parsley
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch thick wedges
- 1/2 lb dried white beans, soaked overnight and boiled until tender or 1 14-oz can garbanzo beans or cannellini beans
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup millet
- Heat butter and olive oil in a large saucepan or pot over medium-high heat until butter has melted. Add the onion, ginger, coriander, and cinnamon and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 2 minutes.
- Add the harissa and stir to combine. Add 4 cups of water, the salt, parlsey, carrots, turnip, and beans. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the carrots and turnips are almost cooked but not quite, about 10 minutes.
- Add the zucchini and asparagus. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Taste the broth for salt and season to taste.
- To make millet, bring 1 cup dried millet and 2 cups salted water to a boil in a small skillet. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until water has evaporated and millet is cooked through. Turn off heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Serve stew over a big bowl of the millet.