So, it's not so bad, once you set your mind to it, to switch to whole grains. It's largely about changing some of your shopping habits. Here are a few tips I've found to make the changes a little easier.
Cook your brown rice correctly. I've heard a lot of people say that they do not like brown rice, and it turns out that they just aren't cooking it long enough. Brown rice needs more liquid and a longer cook time than white rice, so pay attention to the directions on the bag. It does have slightly more chew to it than white rice, but it shouldn't be crunchy at all. We actually like it better at our house now because it has some flavor and texture to it, as opposed to the other stuff.
Don't buy cheap noodles. This is just a matter of taste, but the store brand noodles tend to be pretty cardboard-y to me, and the cost isn't that much less. Especially the Wal-mart brand. I recently tried Winn-Dixie brand whole wheat noodles, and they tasted fine. Also, find out how long you like them cooked. I actually like my whole wheat noodles cooked an extra minute or two, as opposed to "al dente".
Buy white wheat flour. I know, it sounds backwards, me telling you to buy "white" flour, but white wheat flour is still a whole grain flour, it's just a different kind than the whole wheat that is usually available in stores. My local Wal-Mart recently started carrying white wheat flour, other than that, the only place I've seen it is online and at Whole Foods.
Bake your usual goodies with whole wheat pastry flour. Pastry flour is ground finer than regular flour, and works well for desserts, muffins, biscuits, and the like. It doesn't do well for risen breads because it doesn't contain as much gluten. So, go ahead and have your brownies, just make them with whole wheat pastry flour!
Soak your grains. I'll be talking more about how to do this next week, as well as sharing some recipes. In a nutshell, whole grains contain some antinutrients called phytates, which can be hard to digest and can inhibit your body's absorption of some of the nutrients in the grains. Soaking your grains is a good way to make the grains easier to digest, and it also makes baked good rise more and become less dense, which is a common complaint for whole grains. Generally, what you do to eliminate these phytates is soak your grains for anywhere from 7-24 hours in a liquid like yogurt, buttermilk, kefir or whey. You can also use salted water if you are dairy sensitive. I put of trying this for a long time because it seemed like so much extra work. I felt a little sheepish when I finally started implementing it and found that all it takes is a little planning ahead and about 2 minutes extra time. Seriously. It's beyond easy.
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Whole grain pancakes! Looking at this photo doesn't make switching seem all that hard does it?
What is your biggest challenge in switching to whole grains? Do you have any tips to share?