New York Registered Dietitian on Whole Grains

Posted on: September 22, 2013

Whole grains, they’re not just for breakfast anymore!

By Jill Ashbey-Pejoves RD, CDN, CNSC, CDE

According to the 2010 Dietary Guideline for Americans, we should make half our grains whole. But why stop at half? The average adult doesn’t get even close to the 25-38 grams of fiber per day recommended by the Institutes of Medicine. By definition, whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the original kernel including the bran, germ, and endosperm.

You may know that the insoluble fiber found in grains such as bulgur, brown rice, and wheat berries aids in digestion, but did you also know it makes you feel full, and stay full longer thereby helping with weight control as well? The soluble fiber found in oats and barley can help lower cholesterol and keep carbohydrate from entering the blood stream too quickly aiding in blood sugar control.

We know that fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals and antioxidants, but whole grains are also an excellent source of these key nutrients. In addition, whole grains provide B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium and iron.

Individuals who eat at least 3 servings of whole grains a day reduce their risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer of the digestive system and obesity. So in honor of National Whole Grain Month, try one of these delicious recipes and add a new whole grain to your repertoire! Bon Appétit!

You can find the recipes below as well as many other healthy choices on our site.

Try these delicious whole grain recipes the next time you consider a whole grain alternative!

Bulgur and Lentils
Courtesy of EatingWell


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups thinly sliced onions
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plus 1¼ cups water, divided
1½ cups cooked or canned (rinsed) lentils
2/3 cup bulgur
¼ cup minced fresh mint, divided
¼ cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 lemon, cut into wedges


1. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.
2. Add onions and salt, cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to low, add 2 tablespoons water and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown and very soft, 13 to 15 minutes.
4. Stir in lentils, bulgur and the remaining 1¼ cups water.
5. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the water is absorbed, 7 to 8 minutes.
6. Stir in 2 tablespoons mint.
7. Serve with the remaining mint, yogurt and lemon.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cup

Calories 278
Protein 12 g
Fat 8 g
Mono Fat 5 g
Sat Fat 1 g
Poly Fat 2 g
Carbohydrates 44 g
Fiber 12 g
Sodium 316 mg
Cholesterol 0 mg

Zesty Wheat Berry-Black Bean Chili
Courtesy of EatingWell


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large yellow-bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
2 14-ounce cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1-2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 cups Cooked Wheat Berries
Juice of 1 lime
1 avocado, diced
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro


1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, cook, stirring occasionally until tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add beans, tomatoes, chipotle to taste, broth and brown sugar.
4. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
5. Stir in cooked wheat berries and heat through, about 5 minutes more. (If using frozen wheat berries, cook until thoroughly heated.)
6. Remove from the heat.
7. Stir in lime juice.
8. Garnish each bowl with avocado and cilantro.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cup

Calories 257
Protein 9 g
Fat 7.3 g
Mono Fat 4.5 g
Sat Fat 0.6 g
Poly Fat 2 g
Carbohydrates 40 g
Fiber 10 g
Sodium 470 mg
Cholesterol 12 mg

Butternut and Barley Pilaf
Courtesy of EatingWell


2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 14-ounce can reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 ¾ cups water
1 cup pearl barley
2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste


1. Heat the oil in large sauce pan over medium heat.
2. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Add broth, water, barley and squash, bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the barley and squash are tender and mot of the liquid has been absorbed, about 45 minutes.
4. Add parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, mix gently.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2/3 cup

Calories 194
Protein 6 g
Fat 2 g
Mono Fat 1 g
Sat Fat 0 g
Poly Fat 1 g
Carbohydrates 40 g
Fiber 8 g
Sodium 149 mg
Cholesterol 1mg