Monday, January 20, 2014

More Whole Foods Means Less White Flour (sob!)

More whole foods.

That's part of my focus this January as I begin the Year of More. Here's the problem: I don't always like whole foods - especially whole grains. I mean, just give me a fluffy white flour tortilla, OK? A whole wheat tortilla is like an insult to all tortillas, like a tough, chewy middle finger to the whole idea of a tortilla. And don't get me started on a whole grain English muffin. Why? Why? For the love of Queen Elizabeth II and all that's holy, an English muffin should not have seeds in it!
In the words of Mindy Kaling: "Gluten is my favorite food."

I decided that if I was going to persist in eating whole foods, than I was going to have to give up the idea of eating "healthy" whole grain versions of foods that I only really like when they are made with white flour. I've cut way back on things like tortillas and English muffins, but I'm not substituting anything for them. I'd rather eat a delicious white flour tortilla rarely, than eat a dirty-sock-tasting whole wheat tortilla every day. 

That's left a few holes in my diet, though. What have I been eating instead? And what can you put in your cupboard to replace white flour goodness? (Check out the Whole Grains Council for even more info on whole grains like millet, spelt, teff, kamut ... the list goes on and on!)

Bulgur: When I was a kid we ate a lot of bulgur. It can be substituted for rice, or used in Middle Eastern salads. Bulgur is wheat that's been pre-cooked and cracked, and it has a short cooking time so it's easy to use and convenient. In the U.S., all bulgur is supposed to be whole grain. You can buy it in the bulk area of stores that still have a bulk section, or in the Middle Eastern section of the grocery store.

Wheat berries: Wheat berries are whole wheat kernels. They cook for a long time - 45-60 minutes in water - so they aren't as convenient as bulgur. However, they have a nice nutty flavor and are a great base for salads.

Whole grain rye crisps: There are are several brands of rye crisps, so make sure you look for some that say whole grain on them. These are a great vehicle for avocado or hummus, or can be eaten plain. (They are pretty dry, though, so if you eat them plain, have a glass of water handy).

Popcorn: Yum! I like popcorn that only has sea salt on it. None of that fake butter for me. 

Corn tortillas: As I mentioned, I don't think there's any true substitute for a good flour tortilla, but some things (like fish tacos) are good with a corn tortilla. Corn tortillas are also good for enchiladas, huevos rancheros, and anything else made with eggs.

Lentils: Lentils aren't a grain, but they can be good for giving you a protein boost, and you can put sauces and toppings on them just like rice. They also cook quickly, like bulgur, and go well with many of the same Middle Eastern flavors.

Food For Life 7 Sprouted Grains bread: I don't enjoy whole wheat bread, but I love Food For Life bread. It makes a nice, firm toast. Since I haven't been buying flour tortillas (you can probably tell by now how traumatized I am by this), this toast has become my primary vehicle for peanut butter. And I just learned they make a cinnamon raisin bread! It's also an excellent avocado toast (Make toast. Smash avocado onto said toast. If desired, sprinkle with a pinch of salt or chili powder.)

Hopefully, these foods will help keep The Year of More from feeling like this:

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