The Big Deal About Whole Grain

Today we are going to talk a little about whole grains. We all hear about how important whole grains are, but how do we know we are getting a whole grain product when we buy it? Why are whole grains so important?

You must look at the package label or nutritional label and to see what the ingredients are. What you should not see in that ingredient list is “enriched flour”. Enriched flour is not the whole grain. What happens in the processing of the grain is the outer covering of the grain is removed. Then in the processing of the product the manufacturer “enriches” that grain with the vitamins and minerals that were removed with the outer covering.

What was removed? On a whole grain that outer covering contains vitamins, minerals, and fiber. During digestion our body must work to process that outer covering. During digestion our body must turn what we eat into something the body can use. The smallest thing the body can make that our body can use at the cellular level is called glucose. Fiber is hard for the body to deal with. The body burns calories processing fiber. Because the body works harder, it takes longer for our body to process the material thus, remaining in our system longer which, in turn, makes us feel full longer. Because the body processes this material slower, there is a steady amount of glucose that gets into our blood stream. Whereas with enriched flour, or white flour, the body does not have to deal with the fiber. As a result, that material is digested easily and quickly. This causes a large amount of glucose to enter our blood stream quickly. The body does not need all of that energy that quickly so it stores the extra in the liver and fat cells. A couple of hours later when the glucose is used or stored, the body tells you it is hungry, we may feel tired, or have the shakes, so we eat again starting the cycle all over. Next time we will talk about carbohydrates and help you make better choices for you and your family.

Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, here are some other quick breakfast suggestions. Those who are diabetic require 2 servings of a carbohydrate for breakfast. To the egg dishes you can add 2 slices of whole grain bread, a whole wheat English muffin, a whole wheat mini bagel, or wrap your egg creation in 2 whole grain tortillas.

You can top your whole grain bread with a sugar-free jam, which has about 5 grams of carbohydrates.

    • Whole-grain toast topped with fat-free cheese slice and tomatoes then broil
    • Low-carbohydrate yogurt with a little bran cereal or fruit
    • Half of a whole-grain English muffin topped with tomato slice and a poached egg
    • ½ cup liquid egg substitute with ½ cup thawed frozen spinach and 1 tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese. Mix together and place in glass pie plate (or equivalent). Cover with piece of waxed paper and cook in microwave until set in center.
    • ½ cup liquid egg substitute added to sautéed vegetables  of your choice in small skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray:


  • Tomatillo and onion then top with salsa
  • Mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, asparagus, zucchini, roasted bell peppers (use your imagination)
  • Fat-free cheddar cheese omelet with sliced tomatoes
  • Top a Portobello mushroom cap with sliced tomato, broil for 3 minutes, top with ½ cup liquid egg substitute, scrambled


The Most Important Meal of the Day

Let’s start with the most important meal of the day, breakfast. About one out of four women skip this meal. There are several reasons for this including that hectic morning rush attempting to get children dressed, fed and off to school as well as getting ourselves prepared for our day. Another reason is the belief that there is not enough time or it is too “complicated” to prepare this meal. I think the main reason is our desire to cut calories with the belief that this will help us to avoid gaining excess weight. However, studies show that women who do not eat breakfast have a harder time not only losing weight, but may actually gain weight instead.

Breakfast is the meal that jump starts our metabolism. Our bodies have been fasting throughout the night while we sleep. Our body is in need of energy. By not providing that much needed energy until noon, we actually slow our metabolism down. The body stores those calories that we do consume because it does not know when the next source of energy will be provided. When breakfast is skipped, we also tend to over eat at the next meal because we are starving.

This meal is even more important for those women who are pregnant or who have Gestational Diabetes because the hormones of pregnancy continually allow more glucose to go to the baby. This glucose is the energy source for the baby to meet the energy and nutritional requirements for growth.  An empty stomach can lead to more nausea or dizziness, which are also signs of low blood sugar.

The second item we will focus on today is portion control. It is very important when looking at recipes and reading labels that we take note of the portion size. The nutritional information provided is based on that portion size not what we think a portion size should be.

Below are two recipes for breakfast that are not only healthy, but good. My kids love both of these (mine are picky so this is always a good test). The big tip I would like to pass along is that both of these can be made ahead, packaged into appropriate portions, placed in the freezer and quickly defrosted for breakfast, thus allowing time for all of that multitasking we moms must do in order to start our day.

Buttermilk Waffles with Jam

(I don’t have waffle maker so make pancakes instead)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (no instant or quick oats)

1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder.3 tbsp. sugar substitute (I like Splenda)

3 tbsp. canola oil

1 ¼ cups 1% or fat-free buttermilk

½ cup water

1 egg (or ¼ cup egg substitute)

Sugar-free, jam any flavor

Combine flour, oats, baking powder, and sugar substitute in a medium bowl. Whisk together the oil, buttermilk, water and egg or egg substitute in a separate bowl. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined. Spray skillet with non-fat cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add ½ cup batter to skillet and turn when edges are firm. Add dollop of sugar-jelly or sugar-free jam.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (serving is ½ cup batter)

360 calories

11 grams protein

15 grams fat

56 grams carbohydrate

2.5 grams saturated fat

6 grams fiber

Taken from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook by Arthur Agatston, M.D.


  • 15 grams of carbohydrate equals 1 serving, so for yourself or if you are diabetic cut batter to ¼ cup making the number of servings of carbohydrate as 2
  • Prepare on a weekend or day when you are not working and place cooked pancakes in freezer bag and freeze
  • Can use low sugar syrup for kids
  • Add a protein such as turkey bacon, 1 egg or sausage recipe below which will slow the digestion of the carbohydrate

Breakfast Turkey Stack

1 pound ground turkey breast

4 tsp. sugar-free pancake or maple syrup

½ tsp. dried sage

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. ground pepper

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. olive oil

1 large tomato cut into 4 slices

4 (1 oz.) slices reduced-fat or fat –free cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, except olive oil, and form into 4 patties. Heat oil in skillet, cook patties until browned and cooked through. Lay tomato slices in single layer in a baking dish, season with salt and pepper. Top each tomato slice with turkey patty and top with cheese. Broil until cheese is melted.

Nutritional Information Per Serving  (serving is 1 patty)

220 Calories

36 grams protein

7 grams fat

4 grams carbohydrate

3.5 grams saturated fat

360 mg sodium

Taken from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook by Arthur Agatston, M.D.


  • Use non-fat cooking spray and eliminate 4.6 grams fat and ½ gram saturated fat
  • By using fat-free cheese eliminate a little more fat and calories
  • If combining with the waffle recipe, eliminate the tomato and cheese which will reduce the total carbohydrate content
  • Can make 5 patties instead of 4 when combining with waffle recipe especially if you are diabetic
  • Prepare on a weekend or day when you are not working and place in freezer bag and freeze
  • May prepare as above as a breakfast; freeze, thaw, prepare tomato and cheese as above
  • If diabetic will still need to add 2 servings of a carbohydrate if not adding a pancake