Wholegrains…. To eat or not to eat that is the question!

The problem with wholegrains is not the grain itself but rather the type we tend to eat and the way in which we eat them.

Modern aspects of food processing and constant drive for “convenience” has lead to the food industry increasing the amount of foods that are more convenient for us to eat.

Wholegrains are no different to this. Everyone wants to make better choices and we all love our carbs and we do seek to choose healthy foods, without the cost or the hassle.


What is a Wholegrain?

By definition all grains start life out as wholegrains and are the entire seed of a plant. This seed (“kernel”) is made up of 3 important edible parts – the bran, germ, and endosperm and the entire seed is protected by a inedible husk to ensure it doesn’t suffer the harshness the environment sends its way.




The bran is outer layer of the kernel and it contains important antioxidants, B vitamins and fibre.


The germ is the embryo and hence is rich with B vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and some protein from which to germinate.


The endosperm is the powerhouse and contains all the energy necessary to assist the plants growth with starchy carbohydrates, proteins and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.


The pitfalls of convenience

Refining normally removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients.

Take wheat and rice for example;



Food manufactures attempt to fortify these grains, putting back some of the key nutrients such as in cereals, making them much healthier then their refined counterparts.


What are they?

  • Wheat – Freekeh
  • Teff – Spelt
  • Sorghum – Farro
  • Corn – Bulgur
  • Buckwheat – Amaranth
  • Oats – Rye
  • Barley – Millet
  • Quinoa – Kamut


Are they healthy?

Epidemiological studies report that individuals consuming 3 serves a day had 20-30% reduction in mortality (risk of death) compared to those who consumed none or minimal.

Wholegrains have also been associated with lower BMI and reduced risk of developing Diabetes.  They are also packed with nutrients and provide a gradual release of sugars to ensure you stay full all day.


THE VERDICT… to eat or not to eat?

Overall grain make up the most part of 50% of balanced diets. If we chose more wholegrains to replace the commonly consumed refined types then we are most definitely going to have better outcomes for weight, heart health, Diabetes and even cancer.

The other aspect that appeals to me is the variety…. In Australia we are dominated by wheat (in absolutely everything) that the idea of having such a variety of grains to choose from is exciting.

So be exciting and creative and try some new grains to replace your stock standard weeknight meals.

As a start this is one of my favourite Wholegrain recipes.



Grainy Roast Vegie and Nut Salad
  • ½ small butternut pumpkin cut into 4cm pieces
  • 1 medium beetroot , halved (cooked for 25 minutes in water)
  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp each of fennel and cumin seeds
  • 100g Tricolour Quinoa
  • 50g pearl cous cous
  • 50g freekeh
  • 100g Apricots halved
  • 50g Currants
  • 250ml veggie stock
  • ½ cup green olives
  • 1 orange segmented
  • 100g Pistachios
  • Handful of oregano and parsley
  • Handful of rocket or baby spinach
  • 100g of greek feta
  • 100ml orange juice
  • 3 tbl honey
  • Pinch Saffron
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Roast pumpkin, beetroot and onion (toss in oil, salt and pepper and 1 tsp fennel/cumin seeds) in the oven for 2o minutes (180.C) until softened/sticky. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile add the dried fruit, grains and stock to a small saucepan and bring to boil. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer and cook by the absorption method. You can tell it is cooked as the water should be soaked into the grains and the grains will be slightly chewy but not crunchy.
  3. Whilst the grains are cooking, chop the pistachios and olives and segment the oranges.
  4. Make the dressing by adding the juice, saffron and honey to a small saucepan, bring to the boil and stir until honey has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the oil and season.
  5. In a wide bowl, add the grain mix, roast veggies, orange, nuts, herbs and leaves. Coat the salad with the dressing and then add the feta at the end.

Additional: I serve with a dukkah coated piece of salmon and a dill/yogurt sauce. Delish.