Refined grains are essential junk food. They have calories and little more. Don’t eat them or at least when you do eat them, acknowledge to yourself that you are eating junk food. That sounds harsh, I know. But I think it is the kind of tough love most of us need. it will push you include whole grains whenever you can and shun the refined.
What are whole grains and why should you eat them? A grain is a seed and the whole grain contains all 3 parts–the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The USDA recommends that we eat 3 servings or more of whole grains every day. Whole grains provide fiber and nutrients. Study after study shows people who eat whole grains are thinner, healthier and live longer.
What are refined grains and why should we avoid them? A refined grain is any grain–wheat, corn, rice, barley, etc–that has had the wheat and the germ removed, leaving just the endosperm. Anything made from white flour or enriched flour is a refined grain. “Enriched” means vitamins, which were removed with the bran and the germ, are added in again.
If you make more rustic unfussy sorts of baked-goods (not fancy cakes or cresants for example) it is relatively easy to make the switch. Simply substitute WHOLE WHEAT PASTRY FLOUR for enriched white flour, but it must be pastry flour. Try it. Take your favorite cookie recipe for example and substitue whole wheat pastry flour. No one in your family will even notice.
So if you’re going to take the time make homemade sweet treats, make them a bit healthier by using whole wheat flour. Warning! Don’t delude yourself into thinking that just because it is a whole grain food made from scratch and with love, you can eat as much as you’d like. Don’t you remember the stick of butter you added and those 2 cups of sugar? I once or twice became fat operating under that delusion quietly eating batches of whole wheat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies alone in the privacy of my pantry after the kiddies were tucked in bed. A whole grain, whole food is not necessarily a low-calorie food.
Is there a place for refined grain foods? Yes. I wouldn’t dream, for example, of making mac-n-cheese with whole grain pasta. Yuck! The point is that we live in a toxic, refined-grain environment where you must go out of your way to make sure you are getting whole grains. So do that. Go out of your way. What? You don’t like being thin? You don’t want your family to be healthy?
By the way, I do love fancy cakes and cresants. I just don’t make them. I buy them from a talented pastry chef who owns a bakery very near to here. Just one more way I try my best to contribute to the local economy!