Most of us know the idea of the food pyramid – whether or not we replace the base with Ramen noodles.
But with the recent low-carb fad, many redefined and revamped their pyramids to look less like the buildings in Egypt and more like the leaning tower of Pisa.
Whether or not your diet is top heavy or just heavy in general, there are healthy and necessary ways to eat grains, regardless of what Dr. Atkins may have said.
And I don’t just mean the tortilla around your crunchwrap supreme.
The new version of the USDA’s pyramid puts emphasis on whole grains, recommending that they make up half of the grains you eat.
Their reasoning makes sense.
Whole grains are grains that still have their entire outer covering, including the bran, germ and endosperm. Because the refining process takes away much of a grain’s nutrients, whole grains are loaded with more vitamins, minerals and fiber, according to Whitney Smith, a registered dietician for Hartshorn Health Center.
They take longer for your stomach to digest, and therefore keep you feeling fuller, longer.
Maybe even long enough to make it through Bio without hitting the vending machine.
People who eat whole grains are also found to have less weight problems than those who don’t.
So you can be fuller and skinnier. Bonus.
Whole grains, Smith said, are also good for your heart, reducing the risk of heart disease and decreasing blood pressure.
They can help counteract all the damage you’re causing with caffeine.
And because whole grains are gaining street cred everywhere, you no longer have to harvest your own garden to get nutritious bread – so save the place in your yard for the keg.
Many companies are making whole grain versions of foods you probably already buy. Cereals, crackers and even hot pockets now have whole grain versions.
And, best of all, so do Reese’s Puffs. Enough said.
For those who stay away from the packaged products, whole grains are also easy to cook and bake with at home.
Using whole-wheat flour in recipes, cooking whole-wheat pasta or throwing oats or other whole grains into baked goods can add flavor and the nutrition you need.
Some of my favorites include making whole-wheat pizza crust, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and honey-wheat pancakes.
If the idea of eating anything grainy gives you the creeps, try making your sandwiches on Wonder Bread’s whole-wheat white bread.
It’s so refined tasting, I bet it’ll fool you into thinking it’s bad for you.
If you’re not sure whether or not something is made with whole grain, take a look at the ingredients list. If one of the first listed is whole something, then it’s probably a winner.
If only Qdoba’s queso could be whole grain . then we’d really be on to something.
Entertainment Editor Maggie Canty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.