September is National Whole Grains month, and what better way to welcome a fall chill with hearty whole grains. Refined grains lose their nutrients during processing, some of which can be added back during enrichment. Whole grains are high in fiber. Fiber helps with satiety, digestion and regularity, heart health and blood sugar management. In addition, whole grains are high in B vitamins that provide energy on the cellular level.
Watch your labels: A product only needs to be >51% whole grains to be labeled whole grain, look for 100% whole grain products and read your labels carefully!
Four Whole Grains to Try (Plus, Recipes!)
Whole grains go beyond the common whole grain rices and pastas, check out these awesome but not-so-common whole grains to add to your routine this month!
Bulgur is the base for traditional tabbouleh, a middle Eastern chilled grain salad. Bulgur is known for its high fiber content, and it soaks up sauces and oils beautifully.
Try this recipe for a warm bulgur salad:
- ½ c bulgur, cooked
- ¼ c dried apricots
- ¼ c feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 4 oz grilled chicken
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss to coat with oil and lemon and enjoy!Warm Bulgur Salad Recipe Card
That’s right, popcorn is a whole grain! The kernel is left intact, making it the only 100% unprocessed whole grain snack. Choose low-salt options at the grocery store, or make your own fun combinations at home!
Try this recipe for a tasty whole grain snack with a zing!
- 3 cups popcorn, popped (can be purchased plain or popped at home)
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
1-2 tbsp olive oil
- Juice from 1 lime, to taste
- 1 pinch salt
Toss popcorn with olive oil and lime, sprinkle cayenne pepper and salt and mix to coat.
Rye has more fiber and nutrients per 100 grams than any other whole grain. Look for whole rye bread during your next grocery store trip, or give this recipe for homemade rye bread a try.
Pronounced “freak-ah,” Freekeh is an ancient grain gaining popularity. It is harvested young and roasted to give a tender, slightly smoky product. Freekeh is extremely versatile and can be used in sweet or savory dishes.
Try this Freekeh breakfast bowl:
- ⅓ c Freekeh, cooked
- 1 c non-dairy milk of choice (cashew and almond work well here)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 small figs, chopped (can sub ½ apple, chopped)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ c walnuts, chopped
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
Prepare Freekeh according to package instructions. Over low heat, mix milk, vanilla extract and figs until combined. Add cinnamon and stir. Top with maple syrup and walnuts.Freekeh Breakfast Bowl Recipe Card (1 download)
More on Nutrition and Heart Health
- Eating More Fiber for Heart Health
- Low-salt Diet Education (and Recipe!)
- Nutrient Deficiency and High Blood Pressure
Caroline is a Clinical Registered Dietitian for MedStar Health and Hospital Systems in Baltimore, Maryland. She completed her Masters Degree in Dietetics from San Jose State University and moved back to Charm City to be with her fiancee. When she’s not providing medical nutrition therapy to her patients, Caroline enjoys cooking, waterfront walks and crab-anything (crab pizza is the best!).