September is Whole Grain Month. That means that for just a month, there is a push to raise awareness about the goodness of whole grains. The powers that be are letting you know how much better off our country would be, if only our citizenry would eat at least half of our grains whole.
Just imagine, from an economic perspective, how much we would save if heart disease were cut by almost a third, strokes dropped by a third, if diabetes cases dropped by 20%, if obesity became far less common? If we all got sufficient fiber and minerals, and multitudes of nagging health issues just evaporated?
If the millions of dollars of savings in health care costs are not motivating, just think of all that suffering. Have you had a family member who had a heart attack? I have, and sitting by that hospital bed, after the quadruple bypass, I saw how painful it all is, up close and personal.
But the public at large is still having a hard time making the connection. People are stuck in their habits, eating their refined white products and not making the change.
As far as I can tell, whole grain foods still have an image problem. It’s not that people haven’t heard that they are good for you, it’s that people haven’t learned just how delicious, satisfying, and beautiful they can be.
Forget everything you remember about whole grain breads that disappointed, and pastas that seemed to dissolve in the pot. Those days are over. If you haven’t tried them lately, prepared whole grain foods have gotten a major taste and texture upgrade.
And while you get your tastebuds accustomed to bread that doesn’t squish into mush as soon as you pick up the sandwich, people like me do our best to create whole grain foods that will win you over. I’ll keep making muffins so delicious that nobody will call them health food. I’ll run to the kitchen to whip up quinoa salads and bulghar chilis and pastas that everyone will enjoy.
Because the greatness of whole grains is just too big to ignore.
In that spirit, I wrote a book a couple of years ago, featuring whole grain, all-plant based treats. Nothing refined goes into any of the recipes, the sweeteners are whole, the flours are whole, there is no margarine or fake food involved.
I’m giving away a copy, so you can try some tasty whole grain, vegan treats, you don’t have to buy a book! If you are not vegan, you can go ahead and throw an egg in there, instead of flax, and if you don’t care about whole sweeteners, you can use brown sugar instead of sucanat. But maybe you will like sweeteners like maple and palm sugar, once you give them a try.
Just for this month, make a plan to switch something you usually eat in a white flour form to a whole wheat version. Give it a month, try a few brands.
And get into whole grains, for flavor, fun and yes, healthy, healthy fiber.
It’s a win-win!
Grape and Peanut Crunch (PBJ Crisp)
Everybody loves a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, especially kids. This crisp is a fun and easy take on the familiar lunchbox combo, and it will probably get you more smiles than the sandwich. Now that organic grapes are available most of the year, you can make this crisp in the midwinter for a fresh fruit pick-me-up.
4 cups/600 g red seedless grapes, halved
1/2 cup/120 ml fruit-sweetened grape jelly
2 tsp arrowroot starch or cornstarch
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
2 cups/200 g rolled oats
1/2 cup/65 g whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup/55 g roasted, unsalted peanuts, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup/100 g granular palm sugar, palm sugar paste or Sucanat
1/4 cup/60 ml coconut oil
1/4 cup/65 g crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup/60 ml nondairy milk
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Put the grapes in an ungreased 2-qt/2-L 12-by-8-in/30.5-by-20-cm glass or ceramic baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine the jelly, arrowroot starch, and orange juice and stir vigorously until thoroughly blended. Stir the mixture into the grapes.
To make the topping: In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, peanuts, and salt and stir until well mixed. In a medium bowl or a food processor, combine the sugar, oil, and peanut butter and mash or process until thoroughly combined. Stir in the nondairy milk. Pour into the oat mixture and stir until well combined. Crumble the mixture over the grapes, distributing it evenly.
Bake for 35 minutes, until the juices are bubbling and the topping is golden and crisp.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes, then s erve warm. Stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, the crisp will keep for about 1 week.