Whole grains, your family either loves them or hates them. I’ve found the easiest way to gain family buy-in is to start by switching some things they may not notice as much. You can even start with a mixed grain bread. Really, almost anything is better for them than mushy white bread. The reason to even try is to add real nutrients to your families diet.
This is the easiest place to start. Unless your family has a Wonder bread addiction, chances are they are at least eating caramel colored bread. The trick is to really look at the ingredients. That soft, brownish, wheat bread may have little, if any, whole wheat flour in it. Fortunately, marketing has realized you want to add more whole grains, but that means you have to keep an eye out for the terms 100% Whole Wheat and Whole Grain. You can try making your own home made wheat bread and get the whole family involved.
You can even get whole wheat bread that’s as soft as the traditional white. If your family puts up a fuss, I would start there. If they have a melt down with that, try getting whole wheat flat-bread and making sandwich roll ups or 100% whole wheat thinwiches and serve a special burger on it. Since they are new, they will probably slide by without as much comparison.
Baked Goods – cakes, cookies, brownies, etc.
It’s much easier to make these at home with whole wheat pastry flour than buying them at the store. The best way to sneak in whole wheat is in chocolate, so try brownies or chocolate cookies first. No one can see the difference! Then add in blondies, carrot cake and muffins. You’ll have them asking you to make your healthy treats before you know it.
It’s never hard to get your kids to eat oatmeal on a chilly morning. You can also try this whole grain porridge or a brown rice cooked with extra water for variety. But what do you do in the summer? Try a blueberry oatmeal smoothie. Also, don’t forget about French toast, pancakes or waffles made with whole wheat. They are easy to make once you have whole wheat bread and flour on hand and are great with fresh fruit on top.
There are a ton of good whole wheat and multi-grain pastas around in all shapes and sizes. You can get them at almost any grocery. My way to transition from white pasta to whole wheat is using angel hair pasta. If you cook it a minute or two longer than the package recommends, it comes closer to the consistency of regular pasta.
Once your family gets used to the angel hair, branch out into lasagna, ziti and more. If you’re feeling adventurous, try making some whole wheat pasta from scratch. If your kids help you make it they are more likely to get excited about eating it.
Rice and those ‘other’ grains
Replace white rice with long grain brown, its texture is closer to the white rice they are used to. It does take longer to cook brown rice, so be sure to start it sooner than you would white.
Don’t limit yourself to rice. Serve stews or sauces over polenta, millet, quinoa, kasha, amaranth, bulgur, wheat berries or barley. There’s no reason to serve the same grain all the time. A great way to experiment with new to you grains is in soups. Try a few of the recipes at the Whole Grains Council, Eating Well or 101 Cookbooks. You’ll find all sorts of yummy recipes from barley risotto to double broccoli quinoa.