Kate Williams, RDN
Your clients, family, and friends are likely familiar with the benefits of whole grains, but are they meeting the current recommendations? NHANES data from 2015-16 shows whole grains accounted for only 15.9% of total grains consumed by the average adult.1 This means most Americans fall short of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommendation to consume 50% or more of total grains as whole grains. This begs the question, are consumers interested in eating more whole grains? The International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2019 Food and Health Survey found more than 80% of respondents believe whole grains are healthy and over half try to consume more.2 How can we spur interest in whole grains into action? Here are three solutions to help inspire everyone to explore and enjoy more whole grains!
Solution #1: Encourage Whole Grain Snacks
Snacks are a simple way to add more whole grains to the diet. Mintel’s 2017 Better for You Snacks report found nearly half of consumers buy better-for-you snacks and 39% of these consumers seek snacks containing whole grains.3 Help clients identify whole grain snacks and recommended amounts. The Whole Grain Stamp helps quickly identify sources of whole grains and is a great tool to share with clients. The stamp is currently displayed on 13,000 different products, making it easy to find.4
Show clients how snacks can help meet their whole grain goals. Swapping refined grain snacks with those made from whole grain adds up. For example, Pepperidge Farm® Goldfish® Baked with Whole Grain crackers contain at least 8g of whole grain per serving and Late July® Multigrain tortilla chips provide 16g or more of whole grain per serving. Combined, these two snacks could meet half of your whole grains for the day! Evaluate your client’s unique snacking habits and work with them to add delicious whole grain swaps.
Solution #2: Experiment with Whole Grains
Encourage clients to sample products made with whole grains. If your client buys enriched white bread, they can experiment to find brands and varieties of whole grain breads they enjoy. Texture preferences can make a big difference for some. Bread made with white whole wheat flour has a similar taste and texture to enriched white bread and may be a good place to start. Changing to a whole grain bread, cereal, or snack may be a drastic change for some clients, so remind them to be patient and keep trying new foods made with whole grains!
When experimenting, start slow. To ease the transition, clients can swap a portion of a refined grain with a whole grain. Recommend whole wheat and refined wheat blended pancakes or adding a bit of wild rice to a soup or stew recipe. For those clients who bake at home, explore tips for baking with whole wheat flour and the food science behind the process. A safe rule of thumb is to try recipes on the package first. These were likely developed and tested by the manufacturer’s culinary team. When clients find a recipe they like, encourage them to continue exploring.
Solution #3: Build Culinary Confidence with Expert Chef Tips
Instant brown rice or oatmeal are easy to use at home, but when it comes to unfamiliar ancient whole grains, they can be intimidating, even for a seasoned cook! For more guidance on cooking from scratch with whole grains, Chef Omar shares some tips:
- Toast whole grains before boiling. Place grains on a sheet pan. Cook in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown and aromatic. This brings out their earthy and slightly nutty flavors, masking any unwanted bitter notes many whole grains tend to have.
- Cook whole grains in a large pot of salted water or stock. When boiling grains, treat them as pasta. Cook them in a big pot of salted, boiling water. Keep a close eye on them and once they’ve reached the “al dente” stage, strain the grains. This is an easy way to cook any whole grain without memorizing different water-to-grain ratios! For a flavor boost, cook in Swanson® Vegetable or Chicken stock.
- Turn risotto into "farrotto". Craving a creamy risotto? Swap out Arborio or Carnaroli rice with nutrient-dense farro and make a farrotto instead. Farro is a hearty grain which retains a firm and slightly chewy texture when cooked and has a pleasant nutty, yet neutral flavor. To make an easy chicken farrotto, sauté onions, garlic, and one cup of farro in olive oil until the onions are translucent. Deglaze the pan with a little bit of white wine. Then add three cups of Swanson® Unsalted Chicken stock and a can of Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Chicken soup to the pan, stir, cover, and allow to cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the farro is tender. Finish with fresh herbs and grated parmesan cheese.
- Take advantage of versatile amaranth. Amaranth is a tiny, quick-cooking seed packed with a nutty, almost malty flavor. When cooked, its slightly gelatinous texture makes it great for thickening soups and stews or as a base for sweet and savory porridges. Amaranth can also be popped by placing a teaspoon in a large, hot skillet and shaking it back and forth until the seeds pop (about 10 seconds). Then toss with salt and use as a crunchy topping on any Campbell’s® soup. You can even toss with a little raw sugar and ground cinnamon and use as a topping on oatmeal or ice cream.
We hope your clients, family and friends explore and enjoy all that whole grains have to offer from snacking to cooking from scratch!
Kate’s BioKate received her bachelor's degree in dietetics from the University of Delaware and completed her dietetic internship at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She has over ten years of experience in a variety of nutrition-related practice areas including clinical nutrition, weight management counseling, health and wellness and nutrition education. Kate has worked as a nutrition consultant to the Campbell Soup Company since 2005.
Omar’s BioChef Omar Rivera is a Research & Development Chef for the Campbell’s Culinary Innovation Hub. He demonstrates and supports the delivery of culinary impact across the Meals and Beverages organization. He also supports culinary enterprise initiatives such as TrendPulse, which leverages culinary observations and insights to drive innovation across the portfolio. Previously Chef Omar was a chef contractor and culinary co-op with Campbell, working on new product and recipe inspirations across the Meals and Beverages and Campbell Snacks divisions. He is also a Lead Chef for Constellation Culinary Group in Philadelphia. Omar graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, with a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree in culinary science and an associate of occupational studies degree in baking and pastry arts.
- NCHS Data Brief, Number 341, July 2019, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2013–2016. Accessed February 2020.
- International Food Information Council Foundation 2019 Food & Health Survey. Accessed February 2020.
- BETTER FOR YOU SNACKS, US, SEPTEMBER 2017. Mintel Group Ltd. Accessed January 2020.
- It’s Working. OLDWAYS WHOLE GRAIN COUNCIL. Accessed January 2020.