I’m so proud to announce that my seventh book, The Whole Grain Promise, More Than 100 Delicious Recipes To Jumpstart a Healthier Diet (Running Press, $19.95), hits bookstore shelves on October 6.
If you haven’t noticed, whole grains are at the core of my cooking. I love the flavors, textures, and colors of whole grains and flours. I also love the way I feel when I eat them, and all the health benefits that whole grains provide. So when I look at this book, I see a collection born of years of recipe development while cooking at home and for clients, teaching classes, and working with whole grains organizations like the Grains for Health Initiative and the Whole Grains Council.
While I’ve been working, I’ve been listening.
I got the message, loud and clear, that the average consumer wants recipes that taste great, and that are easy to shop for and execute. Singles, people with families, gourmets and fast food lovers, like everyone else, want healthy choices to be fast and effortless; they want them to taste just as good as the less healthy option. So I wrote The Whole Grain Promise, to make whole grains easy. I hope you will take a look.
The “promise” that the title refers to is the overwhelming evidence that people who consume whole grains are healthier. In the murky world of health claims, whole grains are a pretty solid bet. Despite recent efforts to make grains into the dietary demon du jour, they have been the backbone of a healthy diet for centuries. Study after study finds that people who eat their grains whole have healthy hearts, lower rates of cancer, and lower rates of obesity.
So it’s a good thing that they are so tasty. In the book, I took a look at some studies done at the University of Minnesota that introduced whole wheat flour to kids in schools. In the course of a year, the children got increasingly whole-wheatier breads, buns and pizzas, and didn’t balk, or even notice. The gradual, unannounced way that the recipes shifted made the switch effortless. In the end, the kids were eating even more of the foods.
I think that this strategy can help you to introduce more and more whole grain foods to your family. It’s not that they don’t taste good, they just taste different, and a 180 degree turn might lead to resistance. No, you just need to slide into it, no big pronouncements, and make it tasty.
Then, you can dive into the recipes in this book, and make a tender Peachy Yogurt Coffeecake, or a savory Egg Curry Breakfast Bowl, depending on your sweet tooth or “spice-tooth.” Give the Super-Chunky Sweet Cherry-Almond Granola a try, if you like fat chunks of granola that you can eat out of hand.
Move into breads, and throw together a quick Make Your Own Baking Mix, and use the recipes for pancakes, biscuits and scones to have piping hot treats your family will love. No-Knead “Stealth”Bread and a pizza crust help to gradually work into making easy yeasted whole wheat breads, or easy Cheddar-Chive Cornbread will serve as a great side.
Salads like Wheat Berry and Shredded Cabbage Salad with Buttermilk Dressing or Wild Rice, Pear and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Walnuts have a Fall feel, and use easy to find ingredients.
Creamy Spinach Soup is fast and easy, and thickened by pureeing the vegetables and grains together. Mexican Tortilla Soup with Shrimp relies on your favorite corn tortillas for a crunchy whole grain accent, one that your kids are going to love.
They are in the Side Dish chapter, but the Whole Grain Mac and Cheese With Peas and Savory Spinach and Cheese Bread Pudding can stand their own as meatless entrees. Pastas made with whole grain penne, spaghetti and angelhair will get your whole grain sides on the table in a snap.
For the main event, there are two veggie burgers based on whole grains, as well as meatloaves and casseroles.
Quinoa-Feta Phyllo Triangles are perfect for entertaining, or you can make extra and take them to work for lunch- and make everyone jealous. A Savory Streusel Squash Pie with Oat Crust is a festival of crunch and the sweet, herby squash you crave this time of year.
For all you snackers, and the folks who feed them, there is a chapter on fast and easy whole grain snacks, with three recipes for flavored popcorns (popcorn is a fantastic whole grain!) and even graham cracker based treats. The Savory Oatmeal Cookies with Cheddar are studded with crystallized ginger, and will give you all the pleasure of a cookie with less sugar.
You probably noticed the lovely cake on the cover, the Orange-Raspberry Bundt. That’s just one, including one of my faves, Granola Brittle Chunks. That’s right, like peanut brittle, but with granola.
For your sampling pleasure, check out this recipe from the book.
If you like it, let me know.
Lemon-Strawberry Quinoa “Breakfast Salad”
Grain salads are not just for picnics and lunchboxes! When summer comes, a cool, grainy breakfast salad is a great way to start the day. Quinoa and juicy berries are light and fresh with lemon and will fuel your morning adventures in a delightful way.
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 pound fresh strawberries, halved
1 cup shredded carrot
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Put the cooked quinoa in a large bowl. Add the strawberries and carrot. In a cup, stir the honey, lemon, canola oil and salt, then pour over the quinoa and toss to coat. Chill for up to three days. Serve topped with sliced almonds.