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5 Whole Grains for Healthy Salads

5 Whole Grains for Healthy Salads

Cooked barley

Don’t restrict your salads to only leafy greens. These healthy whole grains add a burst of flavor, texture, and nutrients to make boring salads more exciting.

Barley

Barley is a nutty, chewy grain that is delicious sprinkled over mixed greens. The dietary fiber in barley contains beta glucans, which may reduce blood cholesterol. Barley also contains niacin, which has been found to protect against cardiovascular disease. Choose hulled barley over pearled barley as it still contains some of the bran and endosperm of the grain. To cook, simmer 1 cup of dry hulled barley in about 3 ½ cups of water for 60 minutes, or until tender and chewy.

Bulgur

Bulgur is a cracked wheat that is often used in Middle Eastern tabbouleh salads of parsley, mint, and garlic. Bulgur is lower in calories and carbohydrates and has more fiber than many other grains, including quinoa. Because it is pre-cooked before it is sold, bulgur takes less time to prepare than most whole grains. Simmer 1 cup of bulgur in 2 ½ cups of water for about 10 minutes, or you can pour boiling water over the grains and let them sit for 1 hour to soften.

Kamut

Kamut is a form of wheat with a chewy grain and a rich, buttery flavor. It makes delicious cold grain salads and can be stirred into vegetable salads like broccoli slaw. Kamut is higher in protein than other forms of wheat and provides vitamin E. Soak kamut overnight and drain. Simmer 1 cup of soaked kamut in 3 cups of water for 45 to 60 minutes.

Red Rice

Red rice is a whole grain from Bhutan with a nutty, earthy flavor. When cooked, it turns a pale pink color, and its flavor goes well with salads made of roasted mushrooms and peppers. Red rice is a gluten-free grain that contains potassium and magnesium. To prepare, bring 1 cup of the rice to a boil in 1 ½ cups of water. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

Wheat berries

Wheat berries are whole wheat kernels that have a nutty flavor and a chewy texture similar to barley and kamut. They make a hearty topping for mixed green salads and work well as a base for cold grain salads. Both red and white wheat berries are whole grains that contain protein, fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium. Rinse 1 cup of wheat berries well, and bring to a boil in 4 cups of water. Reduce heat and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes.

Reduce Food Waste & Boost Nutrition

Reduce Food Waste & Boost Nutrition

Before you throw away those food scraps, take a second look. Are they edible? You might be surprised to find that many of the stems, tops, and leftover pulps that you often discard can be reused in delicious and healthy ways.

Carrot greens

When you buy carrots with the leafy green tops attached, don’t toss those greens in the trash. Carrot greens can be finely chopped and stirred into soups, salads, and stir-fries. Blend them into pesto or juice them with other fruits and vegetables. Little information is available about the exact nutrients in carrot greens, but they are likely to contain similar nutrients to the root portion of the carrot, such as vitamins A and K.

Beet greens

Most beets are sold with the greens still intact. Chop them and saute them in olive oil and garlic, add them to soups and stews, or add them to fillings in stuffed peppers or vegetable lasagna. They can also be baked until crispy like kale chips. Beet greens contain vitamins K and C, and the carotenoid lutein, which is associated with eye health.

Cruciferous cores

When you’ve cut all the florets away, you can still put the core and stalk of vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower to good use. Shred them and use in slaws, stir-fries, or pasta salads. They can also be used to make homemade vegetable stock. Eating the whole vegetable will give you more vitamin K, vitamin C, and folate.

Juice pulp

If you make juice fresh at home, you are left with pulp that still contains the fiber of the fruits and vegetables. Pulp from fruits like apples or pears can be stirred into yogurt or oatmeal. You can even use them as fillings for whole grain cinnamon rolls. Vegetable pulp from carrots can be used in stuffings for peppers and eggplants, as a layer in vegetable lasagna, or in meatloaf.

Nut meal

Making your own nut milks is easy, but you are left with the nut meal once you extract all of the liquid. This meal contains protein and fiber. Store it in the refrigerator and sprinkle it over yogurt parfaits or salads. Incorporate it into spreads like pesto or pasta sauce. You can also use it in healthy desserts like granola bars or whole grain cookies.

Time Saving Tips for Packing Healthy Lunches

Packing Healthy Lunches

You know that packing a healthy lunch will help you stay on track, but chances are you struggle to find the time. Planning ahead and preparing healthy lunches doesn’t have to take hours. By getting organized and creating a routine, you can save time while always having a nutritious lunch that is ready to eat when you are.

Make big batches.

If you are already investing the time to cook, you might as well make enough food to get you through several meals. Many healthy recipes can easily be doubled or tripled to provide more servings for meals throughout the week. Homemade soups and salads are easy to pack for a light lunch. Extra roasted chicken can be used in sandwiches, wraps, and tacos. Leftover vegetables can be stirred into whole grain pasta or quinoa. Decide what big batches of foods you can prepare over the weekend, and make a plan for how you will use them in packed lunches throughout the week.

Portion when you put up leftovers.

When you have leftovers, don’t transfer them to one large container. Divide everything into smaller containers that you can quickly grab and add to your lunch bag. Avoiding the need to divide foods and dirty more dishes on a busy morning will save you valuable time.

Create a to-go cabinet in the kitchen.

Sealable containers, reusable baggies, and thermoses all make ideal containers for packing a lunch, but searching for a lost lid 5 minutes before you need to get out the door is frustrating and time consuming. Designate one place in your kitchen to keep all of your to-go containers and utensils. When you are ready to pack your lunch, everything will be right where you expect it to be.

Invest in divided containers.

Bento box style lunch boxes and divided trays allow you to use one container for the components of your healthy lunch. You can pack your sandwich, fruit and pretzels in one lunch box, or keep the toppings separate from your salad before you are ready to eat. You’ll need fewer containers for your lunches, and you will spend less time trying to find the right container for your foods. These lunch boxes can also help with portion control, and they allow for quick clean up.

Take advantage of storage at work.

If your workplace provides space for you to store foods during the week, take advantage of the time it will save you. Gather up staples like a bag of carrots, a carton of hummus, and cartons of yogurt, and take them with you on Monday. They’ll be ready to go when you need them, and you won’t have to spend time organizing and packing these foods at home each day.

Teaching Children Healthy Cooking

Teaching Children Healthy Cooking

What are the Benefits of Teaching Children How to Cook?

Cooking healthy foods as a family can improve nutrition while providing quality family time. Cooking with children sparks an interest in healthy foods and can increase the willingness to sit down and share a meal as a family. Preparing food gives children the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the family, which leads to a sense of accomplishment and can build self-confidence. The cooking skills your children develop will last into adulthood, giving them the tools they need to live healthier lifestyles.

Measuring and mixing are only one part of the cooking experience. Be sure to involve children in recipe reading to help them better understand the process of cooking food. Cooking can also teach lessons of science, family history, and food culture. By exploring how foods cook and bake and the essential ingredients for creating these reactions, you can focus on science education. You can celebrate your family history and food culture by preparing recipes that your grandparents used to make, or study the globe, pick your favorite country and prepare the national dish together.

When Should Children Start Cooking?

Children of all ages can be involved in the kitchen. Begin with basic tasks, and as children grow and build skills, continue to increase the responsibility while providing supervision as necessary. Children under 5 can scrub root vegetables, rinse greens in a colander, count or measure ingredients, stir, and sprinkle. Children from 5 to 10 can learn to crack and separate eggs, operate a stand mixer, mash foods, and roll out dough. When using safe, kid-friendly kitchen tools, older children can grate cheese, peel vegetables, and begin basic chopping and slicing.

What’s the Best Way to Start Cooking as a Family?

Begin with simple foods that are easy to prepare and assign each person a task from the recipe. For example, a breakfast smoothie requires enough steps for each person to play a role in the preparation. Someone can measure the fruit and milk, another can place the ingredients in the blender, someone can operate the blender, and another person can pour the drink into serving glasses. Make a salad by assigning tasks like whisking the dressing, peeling and chopping vegetables, and tossing the vegetables together in the bowl. As your family becomes familiar with being in the kitchen together, you can progress to more advanced cooking.

Tips for Healthy Grilling

Tips for Healthy Grilling

Practice food safety.

When working with raw meats, poultry, and seafood, practice good food safety to prevent foodborne illness. Never use the same tray or plate for cooked meats that were used to bring raw foods to the grill. Wash your hands with soap and water after touching raw foods. Disinfect surfaces that have come into contact with raw foods. Stay mindful of the rags you use around the grill. If you’ve used them to wipe dirty hands, get a new one and designate it for clean hands only.

Choose healthy options.

Grilling can be a healthy method for cooking, but you can boost your nutrition by choosing the right foods for your meal. Focus on poultry, fish, and seasonal vegetables. Chicken breasts can be cut and made into kebabs, and delicate fish can be cooked in foil packets. Corn on the cob, zucchini slices, eggplant slices, whole bell peppers, onion slices, and heads of romaine lettuce are all examples of vegetables that are delicious cooked on the grill. Don’t forget dessert. Warm fruit kebabs with berries, melon, and pineapple sprinkled with cinnamon or drizzled with honey make a healthy end to your cookout.

Marinate your meats.

Grilling meats at high heat has been linked to carcinogens in the food. Research shows that marinating meats may reduce these carcinogens. Make marinades with healthy oils, vinegars and juices, and always add fresh herbs. Studies have shown that fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme help reduce the carcinogens.

Pick healthier seasonings.

Rubs and seasoning mixes can be healthier options for flavoring grilled foods when compared to heavy sauces, but not all spice seasonings are created equal. Some have added sugar and high levels of sodium. Choose low-salt, sugar-free spice rubs to make your grilled meal healthier. If you can’t find a healthy rub you like, experiment with making your own. Equal parts of spices like chili powder, cumin, oregano, and garlic powder with a little salt and pepper can be made into a paste by stirring in heart-healthy olive oil. Rub down meats and vegetables with the paste before grilling.

Make sure it’s done.

Everyone has preferences for how they like their grilled foods to be cooked, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture has set guidelines for grilling temperatures to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, ground beef to 160 degrees, and steaks to 145 degrees. Invest in a meat thermometer for safe and healthy grilling.

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