Since You Asked: Introduce whole grains gradually

I know we should all eat more whole grains, but my family is putting up a fight. Any ideas for making them taste better or at least disguising them?

— Stephanie B., via email

Your question is a common one as "whole grains" became a nutrition buzzword. The problem is that many cooks don't look much farther than whole wheat — maybe brown rice — at mealtimes.

Instead of rice, try steamed barley and buckwheat groats. In lieu of couscous (often mistaken for a grain but essentially wheat pasta), sample quinoa, millet and amaranth, all of which are seeds rather than grains.

Here are a few more ideas from the blog

  • Don't settle for whole-grain products that contain as many as 40 ingredients, including lots of unnecessary additives. These were designed to have a long shelf life in supermarkets. Look into local bakery options instead.
  • Or try making bread. It takes only four or five ingredients to make "real" whole-wheat sandwich bread. Try "white" whole-wheat flour instead of straight-up whole-wheat flour. Still 100-percent whole-grain flour made from a lighter variety of wheat, it is a great place to start.
  • Mix the old with the new. If whole-wheat pasta is shunned at your house, try mixing white and whole-wheat pasta together for a few weeks. Start small by making the dish a third or quarter whole-wheat pasta. This same tactic could be applied to both brown rice and whole-grain flour, as well.
  • Ease your family into whole grains by disguising them in sweeter foods. Try making some whole-grain blueberry muffins, sweet zucchini bread or banana pancakes.

Send questions to "Since You Asked, A la carte" Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; e-mail to

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