The Whole Benefits of Whole GrainsThe Whole Benefits of Whole Grains

September is Whole Grains Month and what better way to celebrate it than with one of the most popular, protein-packed and easy-to-cook whole grains, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah).

But first, what does “whole grain” really mean?

It’s essentially a grain in its whole, original form (i.e., nothing has been stripped from it and it hasn’t been highly processed).

Whole grains give the whole benefit: they are loaded with nutrients, they satisfy appetites and they provide long-lasting energy. Grains not in their whole state are typically highly refined leftover starches that provide little nutritional value and are often short-term hunger fixes. Always look for the word “whole” in the ingredient lists for the best source of grain.

There are many types of whole grains including oats, amaranth, millet, barley, corn and quinoa.

What’s so great about quinoa?

Ironically, quinoa is technically not a grain; it’s an edible seed more closely related to spinach as it falls in the same family of plants. While quinoa is a seed, it’s cooked and eaten like grains, which is why it falls in the “whole grain” category. It’s a popular seed because it’s simple-to-make, tasty, fluffy in texture (when cooked), a complete protein and incredibly versatile. It’s great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And, an added bonus – a little quinoa goes a long way, which is perfect for your loved ones as it can be eaten for several meals, which saves time and creates more ease in the kitchen.

How do you make quinoa?

Quinoa can be ready to eat and enjoyed in about 15 minutes by following these 3 easy and quick steps:

  1. Rinse 1 cup of quinoa through a small mesh strainer
  2. Add the cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil
  3. Reduce the heat to low, cover and allow the quinoa to simmer (approximately 15 min) until fluffy (note: there shouldn’t be any remaining water).

What are the best ways to eat quinoa?

Quinoa can be eaten in a variety of ways, whether it’s eaten plain or with seasoning, as a side or main dish or as a breakfast or dinner option.

For example, quinoa can be eaten as a sweet breakfast food by simply adding a little cinnamon, raisins and fruit to it. For lunch, quinoa can be added to a green leafy salad making it a heartier mid-day meal option. And for dinner, quinoa can be eaten as a main dish by mixing it with various spices and vegetables. There are so many easy ways to get creative with quinoa.

Quinoa and other whole grains are great, healthy additions to a diet. They provide essential nutrients that help reduce disease, such as heart disease, and they are filling and satisfying which helps crowd out other unhealthy foods that tend to sneak into diets. Now, that’s the whole truth!

Natalie Drugan is a nutrition and lifestyle health coach. Natalie is dedicated to helping others make healthy choices centered on clean food, toxic-free environments and happy living. Natalie received her nutrition health coaching certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC, the world’s largest nutrition school. As a Certified Nutrition Health Coach, she studied over 100 dietary theories and learned from world-renowned experts and doctors including Andrew Weil, MD, Walter Willet, MD, Mark Hyman, MD and Deepak Chopra, MD. Natalie is board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP). Additionally, Natalie received her BBA in Marketing from Texas A&M University.

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