It is easier than you might think to add more whole grains to your diet.
Public health officials recommend that you make at least half of your grains whole grains. Whole grains are different from refined grains in that they contain the entire grain seed, including the germ, bran and endosperm. When eaten regularly, the high amount of fiber found in whole grains can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer and even diabetes.
A quick tip: when shopping for items such as sliced bread, always look for the words “whole wheat flour” listed as the first ingredient to be sure you are purchasing a whole grain product. Examples of whole grains include oats, barley, rye, buckwheat, millet, wheat, rice and quinoa.
This heart-healthy recipe features quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”), a pseudo-whole grain that is rich in fiber, B vitamins, iron, zinc, folate and potassium. Quinoa is often referred to as a complete protein, which means it contains all nine of the essential amino acids. The nine essential amino acids must come from the foods we consume because our body cannot produce them, which makes quinoa a great option if you are vegan or vegetarian. This is also a great alternative to brown rice, as it cooks in only about 15-20 minutes.
Quinoa, Black Bean and Avocado Salad
Start to finish: 40 minutes
Two 15-ounce cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup uncooked quinoa*
3 ears of corn, kernels scraped off (or substitute with 2 ½ cups frozen corn)
2 avocados, diced
½ cup red onion, diced
1 large orange/yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, sliced in quarters
¼ cup feta cheese
1 lime, zested
½ cup lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
*Rinse the quinoa with water prior to cooking to remove the natural outer coating called saponins, which can produce a bitter flavor.
Place 1 cup uncooked quinoa in a pot with 2 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil, cover with lid and reduce heat to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Once all water is absorbed, lightly fluff with a fork. Set aside and allow to cool.
Mix together black beans, corn kernels, avocado, red onion, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and lime zest. Add cooled quinoa.
In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, honey, black pepper, salt and garlic.
Pour dressing onto salad and toss together. Let cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.
— Katy Kaufman is a candidate for a master’s degree in nutritional sciences at San Diego State University. She also works as a diet technician at Sharp Memorial Hospital in Kearny Mesa and teaches nutrition education courses at the Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego. Visit her website at katykaufman.weebly.com.