Incorporating whole grains into your diet (as opposed to processed grains) is an essential part of healthy eating. There have been a growing number of studies in recent years that show just how beneficial whole grains may be to us, including their role in preventing cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and aiding in weight management and longevity.
What exactly is a whole grain? Just what it sounds like – all of the components of a certain type of grain, which includes three parts – the bran, germ and endosperm. Processed grains, or refined grains, remove the nutrient-packed bran and germ parts of the grain, leaving just the endosperm – a common example of this is white flour.
This means when looking for whole grain items in the supermarket, make sure you look for the words “100% whole grain” on the packaging – this goes for breads, flours, crackers or cereals.
Some types of whole grains include:
• Brown rice
• Buckwheat Bulgur
• Wild rice
• Whole wheat
A lot of these grains have become increasingly popular with emerging health studies, but oatmeal is probably one version of whole grains that you’ve always kept on hand in your pantry. Oats, whether they are rolled (old fashioned), steel cut or instant (quick), are all whole grain forms of oatmeal. Another easy oat breakfast: chocolate layered overnight oats with berries
Old fashion rolled oats are slightly less high in fiber than their steel cut counterparts, but because they have been steamed and pressed into flakes, they cook quickly and are ideal for baking.
For this reason, they are often the base of granolas and breakfast bars. When you purchase these items at the supermarket, however, despite being marketed as healthy, these products are usually full of added sugar, a long list of preservatives and hard to pronounce ingredients.
Preparing breakfast or granola bars at home is a great way to avoid this trap. You can make the bars as simple or complex as you like, but either way, you control what goes into them, and consequently, will know exactly what you’re putting into your body (or your kids’ bodies!).
Whether it’s an on-the-go breakfast before work or school, a pre workout snack or a quick afternoon pick me up, these Banana-Oat Bars are the perfect treats to keep on hand. This recipe calls for dates, but you could use any dried fruit you like, from cranberries to apricots. Blitz up your favorite nuts and swap them in for the almond meal, or use pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower seeds. For a bit of extra indulgence, mix in some dark chocolate chips. Between chia seeds, oats, nuts and seeds, these nutrient-dense bars will keep you energized and on the go throughout your day.
2 mashed bananas
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 Tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease a 9-inch baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl, combine bananas, oats, dates, almond meal, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon, cardamom and olive oil until well combined. Press evenly into baking dish, transfer to oven and bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Cool, cut into bars, and store in an airtight containers up to one week.
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