I think we all know by now that eating whole grains is beneficial for your health. They can help you feel fuller for longer, which can help you maintain your weight. In addition, whole grains have been proven to lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease. Despite the many health benefits of whole grains, it can be difficult to get your children to eat them. If your kids are anything like mine, they may outright revolt if you try to serve them whole grain bread or brown rice. Over the years, I learned some tricks to make the transition from refined grains to whole grains a little easier.
5 ways to add more whole grains to your family’s meals
Make the switch to white whole wheat bread. I know the first time I tried to give my kids whole wheat bread, they had a fit. The brown color was off-putting and they wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole. However, I quickly learned that there are varieties of wheat that make lighter colored bread.
If you buy bread at the store, look for breads that are labeled “white whole wheat” and make sure that whole grain wheat flour is listed as the first ingredient.
If you make your own bread, use white whole wheat flour, which will result in a finished bread that is more similar to the white bread most kids prefer. If you make your own bread and grind your own flour, use hard white wheat berries.
Transition to whole wheat pasta slowly. Whole grain pasta can be a little nuttier in flavor and a little chewier than regular pasta. If you use regular pasta, start substituting whole wheat pasta a little at a time. At first maybe use only 25% whole grain pasta and the rest regular pasta. If your kids eat that without complaint, then up the ratio to 50% whole wheat pasta.
When you are first starting the transition to whole wheat pasta, you might find it easier to use it in dishes that have a sauce that will cover up the color of the whole wheat pasta.
Make the switch from white rice to brown rice. As with the pasta, you can start by substituting part of the white rice for brown rice and then work your way up to using only brown rice.
Hide whole grains in some of your kids favorite meals. I am not above getting sneaky to get my kids to eat whole grains. For example, use oatmeal as a binder in your meatloaf recipe, add some barley to your vegetable soup recipe, or mix quinoa into your taco meat. Again, start with small quantities and then up the amount as your kids get used to it.
Oatmeal makes a great start to the day. It will help them feel fuller for longer than regular breakfast cereal and is a great source of fiber as well. If your kids won’t eat regular cooked oatmeal (like 2 of my picky kids), you can try refrigerator overnight oats or yogurt topped with granola.
If you are struggling to get your kids to eat more whole grains, then I have some great news for you. Van’s has come out with some yummy new pasta side dishes and granola clusters that are chock-full of whole grains. Our family was blessed to get to try the new varieties and they were a huge hit with my kids.
Van’s Whole Grain Pasta Side Dishes
Side dishes can be a great way to get your child to eat another serving of whole grains. Van’s has three new whole grain pasta side dish varieties – Creamy Herb and Garlic Pasta, Ultimate Cheddar Penne, and Rotini & Red Sauce Pasta. All three varieties contain at least 28 grams of whole grains and are gluten free. In addition, these pasta side dishes contain no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no preservatives, and no high fructose corn syrup. As a mom who tries to make sure her family eats as healthy as possible, I really appreciate that.
I love that Van’s new pasta side dishes only take 10 minutes to make. They are great for hectic weekday nights when my kids have evening activities. The Creamy Herb and Garlic Pasta went great with a rotisserie chicken I picked up at the grocery store. I had dinner on the table in 15 minutes!
We added some ground beef to the Rotini and Red Sauce pasta to make it a complete meal. Our whole family always enjoys spaghetti, so this was a great way to turn the side dish into a complete meal. All we had to add was a vegetable.
It was no surprise to me that my kids’ favorite was the Ultimate Cheddar Penne. They absolutely love mac and cheese, so they gobbled this right up.
We really enjoyed all three of the new Van’s Whole Grain Pasta Side Dishes. They will be great to keep on hand for nights when I don’t have a lot of time to get dinner on the table.
Van’s Granola Clusters
We were also blessed to get to try Van’s new Granola clusters, which come is 2 different varieties: Blueberry Walnut and Cranberry Almond. Both varieties have 12 grams of whole grains. Like the pasta, the granola clusters don’t have any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. They are also free of high fructose corn syrup.
My daughters really have been enjoying the granola clusters on yogurt for breakfast and also as an afternoon snack. Unlike other granola products which are hard and crunchy, Van’s Granola Clusters are soft and chewy. Both varieties are absolutely yummy with just the perfect touch of sweetness.
Want to try these new whole grain foods for yourself? Van’s Foods would like to bless one lucky A Heart Full of Love reader with three free Van’s product coupons so they can try the newest Van’s products. Enter for your chance to win through the Rafflecopter form below. Entry is open to US residents age 18 and older only and the giveaway ends March 19, 2015.