Whole Grain Sneakiness

More Tricks for Becoming a “Whole” Person

Want an easy way to begin transforming your taste buds? Simply sneak in whole grains whenever a recipe calls for half grains (i.e., the white refined stuff that’s sold at full price even though the best half has been polished off.)

An earlier post asked, “Why is it so hard saying goodbye to white?”  While there are surely a number of factors at work, like lack of knowledge, confusion and uncertainty, the post concluded that comfort is probably the biggest obstacle preventing our full embrace of whole grains.  Many of us find it hard to imagine taking comfort from whole wheat lasagna or brown rice pudding.

Our taste buds are probably at the root of this limited thinking.  As explained in the previous post, they can easily become sedentary creatures of habit.  If they have come to associate white foods with comfort, then these little despots will keep us heading for white stuff.

Obviously, if we are serious about eating for wellness, it’s important to change that auto-response.  We need to assert a little authority to both whip those couch potato taste buds into shape and stretch the comfort zone in our brain to accommodate whole grains.

You can start today by sneaking whole grains into recipes that call for white stuff.  Go gradually if you like, using just half whole grains at first or reforming just a couple recipes at a time.  Whatever route you follow, it won’t be long before the white stuff reveals itself as the vapid-tasting food that it is—and your taste buds begin craving the rich, complex flavors of whole grains.

This scenario played out just last week, at a sushi-making cooking get-together I facilitated.  As mentioned in my Twitter notes, after running out of white rice, we experimented making sushi with brown rice.  I specifically asked what people thought.  They either liked it better or didn’t even notice a difference!  Maybe our taste buds are more of a pushover than they let on.

This sushi example shows how many recipes can accept a straight whole- for half-grain substitution.  Sometimes, however, the cooking technique might need to be tweaked a bit to accommodate the longer cooking times or heartier flavors and whole grains.  This was the case with Mexican Rice.  I love this dish, but it didn’t seem possible to make with brown rice since the vegetables are simmered with the rice, meaning they would be complete mush by the time a pot of brown rice cooked through.

Finally, I thought of a solution.  Cook the rice by itself, then stir fry with the vegetables, much like Chinese fried rice.  I experimented at a potluck  and again, no one seemed to even notice that a whole grain had been substituted for a half.  Check out the recipe here.

Bottom Line: There is no objective reason whole grain dishes can’t be just as comforting as white.  Hate to say it, but it’s all in our heads—and taste buds.  And we can change them!

Interested in a sushi-making get-together?  Or any kind of cooking get-together?  Read more about them, or just email and we can set up a party that takes advantage of the healthiest foods and best produce of the season.

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