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    Archive for the ‘whole wheat flour’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Weeding Out Wheat Ingredients

    ucm161772Can you explain the different types of whole wheat?

    I know you are supposed to look for the word “whole” as the first ingredient in a bread, but what if you have choices like stone ground whole wheat or whole white wheat?

    Which is better?

    — Jill Twist
    (Location Unknown)

    You are absolutely right that the main thing to look for when purchasing breads is “whole wheat” (or a whole non-wheat flour) as the first ingredient.

    As you point out, though, other factors come into play that can confuse you and millions of other consumers.  Let’s run through some common wheat-based ingredients and what they mean from a nutrition standpoint.  Although your question specifically refers to whole wheat varieties, I am going to throw in a little bit of information about “healthy-sounding” non-whole wheat ingredients.


    You Ask, I Answer: Bread Without Added Junk?

    I’ve been thinking about baking my own whole wheat bread instead of buying chemicals at the store.  I was so disappointed to see how much crap is in Sara Lee breads.

    Ideally, is homemade bread better than commercial ones?

    — Jason Kehl
    Via Twitter

    Is homemade bread a healthier or more nutritious option?  It depends on a variety of factors.

    Are you using organic or conventional flour to bake your bread?  Refined or whole grain?  How much salt are you adding?

    While it is true that a lot of commercial breads are the end result of ingredient lists littered with soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, and added coloring, that is not always the case.

    Here are bread companies I like because of their simple approach.  I have linked to their websites so you can see retail information or order their products online.  Please note that this is not a definitive list.  I am sure there are many small, local bakeries that provide breads with the same characteristics as the ones listed below.

    Also, this list is updated as I find new bread brands worthy of this post!

    • Dave’s Killer Bread (added August 21, 2010): Although the sugar content is a little high, it has many redeeming qualities that still make it a standout.  The spelt variety offers the least amount of sugar, by the way.
    • Food For Life: These breads are made from sprouted grains, which makes their minerals more bioavailable.  Bonus: 0 grams of sugar.
    • Manna Organics: “Manna bread” is a high-fiber, sprouted grain bread free of added sodium, added sugar, and yeast.  I often enjoy a thick slice topped with almond butter in the morning.
    • Silver Hills (added August 21, 2010): Sprouted-grain breads, minimal amounts of added sugar (a mere gram per slice), and wonderful texture.  Wonderful sandwich bread.
    • Vermont Bread Company: Their whole wheat bread has a lovely ingredient list
    • When Pigs Fly: Delicious and mega wholesome!

    If your local supermarkets and food stores do not carry any of these brands, look for breads with the following characteristics.  The more of these bullet points they offer, the better!

    • Whole grain flour to be the first ingredient
    • Whole grain flour to be the only flour throughout the entire ingredient list
    • Whole grain flours that are organic
    • No more than 2 grams of sugar per slice
    • At least 3 grams of fiber per slice
    • No more than 200 milligrams of sodium per slice
    • A simple ingredient list (ie: Whole wheat flour, water, salt, yeast, honey)
    • For maximum mineral absorption, look for sprouted grains

    If you choose to go ahead and make your own bread at home, keep these parameters in mind.


    Healthify Your Baked Goods!

    toolsI find that certain weekend mornings are practically tailor-made for a muffin-and-coffee breakfast.

    Sipping freshly brewed coffee and biting into homemade baked good on a cloudy autumn morning, watching the colorful foliage slowly float down from tree branches, is simultaneously comforting and delectable.

    While many commercial baked goods are nutrition horror cliches (copious amounts of white flour, sugar, and unhealthy fats), homemade varieties can get a nutritional boost in a variety of ways.

    These tips can be used when making muffins, brownies, and cookies:

    1) Go whole or go home

    Gone are the days when “whole grain baked goods” meant a dense, rubbery concoction akin to an E-Z Bake Oven creation.

    The key to making light and fluffy 100% whole grain baked goods is to utilize either whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat white flour.

    You can fully replace a recipe’s white flour with either of these varieties.

    Not only will the end result be higher in fiber, it will also contain more selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

    2) Go alternative

    Alternative flours can be quite pricey, but they’re a lot more affordable if you make them yourself!

    Instead of purchasing oat flour (which, depending where you live, can be hard to track down), make your own by processing quick oats in a food processor.

    FYI: One and a half cups of quick cooking oats yields one cup of oat flour.

    Oat flour is high in soluble fiber (the kind that helps lower cholesterol and provides a feeling of fullness more quickly) and rich in phytonutrients.

    One other FYI: oat flour can only replace, at most, half of the wheat flour in a given recipe.

    Another favorite alternative flour of mine is almond meal.

    You can also make this at home by pulverizing raw almonds in a food processor or coffee grinder until they achieve a powdery consistency.

    Like oat flour, almond meal can replace up to half of the wheat flour in a given recipe.

    Like whole almonds, almond meal is a good source of fiber, protein, vitamin E, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

    You can even replace half a cup of flour in a recipe with half a cup of pure wheat germ for added fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

    3) Get saucy

    Unsweetened applesauce is a healthy baker’s ally.

    You can replace anywhere from one half to three quarters of the fat called for in a recipe with unsweetened applesauce and no one will be the wiser.

    The applesauce won’t disrupt flavors, but will add plenty of moisture to your baked goods.

    4) Sprinkle away

    Whenever I make pancake or muffin batter, I like to add two or three tablespoons of oat bran and ground flaxseeds.

    Not only do they impart a hearty and nutty flavor, they also add extra nutrition in a pinch.

    5) Sugar?  Think Beyond The White Stuff

    When it comes to sweetening, think natural first.

    Raisins, blueberries, bananas, and fresh pineapple add sweetness — and great flavor — to recipes while also delivering nutrition.

    In my experience, you can halve the added sugar (whether in the form of white sugar, brown sugar, agave nectar, maple syrup, etc.) in conventional recipes and still have a tasty baked good.

    When reducing sugar, make up for it by adding nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla, almond, and/or coconut extract to the batter.


    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Cinnamon-Walnut Whole Grain Muffins

    cinnamonThis past weekend I craved muffins to go along with my recently-purchased hazelnut-roasted coffee.

    Instead of treking down to a local bakery for a gigantic 500-calorie bomb, I decided to make my own.

    Apart from pairing up perfectly with a hot cup of coffee on a brisk autumn day, these muffins are 100% whole grain, vegan, and chock full of omega-3 fatty acids.

    See how you like them!

    YIELDS: 18 mini muffins

    2 cups whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat white flour)
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
    1/3 cup chopped walnuts
    1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
    4 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
    1 Tablespoon coconut oil
    1/2 Tablespoon canola oil
    (NOTE: You could omit the coconut oil and instead add an additional tablespoon of canola oil)
    1/4 cup agave nectar, brown rice syrup, or maple syrup
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 cup water


    Place all dry ingredients (from whole wheat flour to cinnamon) in one bowl.

    In another bowl, mix together all wet ingredients (from applesauce to water).

    Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients bowl.

    Mix together lightly, making sure not to overmix.

    Scoop mixed batter into muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit

    OPTIONAL (but recommended): Once out of the oven, sprinkle additional cinnamon on top of muffins.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (for 2 mini muffins, with coconut oil):

    184 calories
    2.5 grams saturated fat (if using only canola oil: 0.5 grams saturated fat)
    320 milligrams sodium
    4.4 grams fiber
    7.2 grams added sugar
    4.5 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Manganese, selenium

    Good Source of: Alpha Linolenic Omega-3 Fatty Acids, copper, magnesium, phosphorus


    Quick & Health(ier) Recipe: Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Muffins

    img71mSince I am leaving the country for a few weeks on Sunday, I am trying to use up every ingredient in my pantry and refrigerator — like whole wheat flour and soy milk — that will otherwise spoil while I am away.

    This “no frills” muffin recipe (which can be vegan or not, depending on your preference) was the end result.  A friend of mine stopped by later in the evening, and, upon trying them, said I “have to put these on the blog!”

    I personally love them because they are a great way to satisfy a craving for baked goods without overloading on calories and sugar.  The fact that they are 100% whole grain doesn’t hurt, either!

    YIELDS: 12 mini muffins (in 24-muffin pan, as shown in accompanying photograph)


    1 cup whole wheat flour
    2 Tablespoons wheat germ (optional)
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    2 teaspoons vanilla powder (or vanilla extract)
    2 Tablespoons dark chocolate chips (if vegan, use carob chips or vegan chocolate chips)
    1 “flax egg”* (or 1 egg)
    1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (or any other milk of your choice)
    3/4 tablespoon coconut oil
    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    2 teaspoons sugar (or honey or agave nectar or maple syrup)

    *NOTE: a “flax egg” is made by mixing two tablespoons of water with one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds.


    Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Place all dry ingredients (from whole wheat flour to chocolate chips) in one bowl.  In another bowl, place all wet ingredients (from “flax egg” or real egg to sugar).  If using vanilla powder, place with dry ingredients.  Vanilla extract should go in “wet ingredients” bowl.

    Add dry ingredients to wet ingredient bowl and slowly fold together.  Be sure to not overmix, as this will result in tough muffins you could bounce off the floor.

    Lightly spray muffin pan with baking spray (to prevent the batter from sticking).

    Fill muffin cups evenly with batter.

    Bake for 20 minutes in oven, or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

    NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (for 2 mini muffins made with soy milk and “flax egg”):

    155 calories
    1 gram saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium
    4 grams fiber
    4 grams added sugar
    4 grams protein

    Excellent source of: Manganese, selenium

    Good source of: Folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6


    You Ask, I Answer: Wheat Thins

    wheatthinsfiberselectsWheat Thins claim to be healthy and full of “whole grains”, but enriched flour is the first ingredient and they seem to be very processed.

    I’m sure these crackers are a better snack than other things, but are they actually good for you?

    — Jessie Arent
    Peterborough, NH

    It’s not so much that Wheat Thins are “bad for you”, but they are not as nutritious as other similar snacks.

    This is not to say that every single morsel you put in your mouth has to be of the highest nutritional quality, but if you are looking for crackers rich in whole grains, Wheat Thins are not it.

    The marketing is tricky, because the front of the boxes for the traditional varieties reference “5 grams of whole grains per serving.”

    This is actually a minuscule amount, since a “serving” of whole grains is composed of at least 16 grams of whole grains.

    The multigrain and “Fiber Selects” variety are slightly better (whole wheat flour is the first ingredient), but they are not 100% whole grain (white flour is the second ingredient).

    How, then, does one serving of Fiber Selects Wheat Thins contain 5 grams of fiber, while a serving of a 100% whole grain crackers usually provides 3 grams?  Simple — the folks at Nabisco threw in some oat fiber to bump up the fiber value.

    If you are looking for a cracker made entirely with whole grains, look for one that only uses whole wheat flour (i.e.: Triscuits).


    You Ask, I Answer: Enriched Whole Grain Bread?

    dsc00448I love this Costco whole grain loaf [I took a photo of the ingredient label for you to see] but have questions regarding some of the ingredients that go into it, namely the thiamine mononitrate, the riboflavin and the ferrous sulfate.

    I know that they can be described as dietary supplements but I am an avid whole grains baker myself and never add any of that to my breads.

    Two questions: Should I?   Do these nutrients double as dough conditioners and could it the reason Costco is using them?

    — “MC”
    Via e-mail

    Guess what?  Contrary to what Costco wants you to think, that loaf is not 100% whole grain.

    Notice the first ingredient?  Unbleached flour?  That’s refined white flour.

    Sure, whole wheat flour is the fourth ingredient, so this bread contains some whole grains, but it is not an entirely whole grain bread.  If you seek 100% whole grain products, look for whole grain flours as the first (and only) ingredient.

    In the United States, per the National Enrichment Act of 1942, all refined grain products MUST be enriched with niacin, thiamin, riboflavin and iron.

    Folate is a fortified nutrient and was not legally required to be added to refined grains until 1998.

    Remember, enrichment refers to putting nutrients lost during processing back into a food, while fortification entails tacking on nutrients not naturally found in a given food.

    When a bread is 100% whole grain (meaning ONLY whole grain flours are used), it is not enriched.

    These nutrients do not double as dough conditioners; they are there because it’s the law!

    By the way, this would only be considered false advertising if the loaf was sold under the guise of being “100% whole grain.”  It is TECHNICALLY a whole grain loaf since it DOES contain whole grains.

    Trust me, manufacturers know this.  They also know the words “whole grain” help boost sales.


    You Ask, I Answer: White Whole Wheat Flour

    I just bought some white whole wheat flour.

    I was puzzled! Will this provide me the same nutritional benefits as whole wheat flour?

    I read that white whole wheat flour was made from albino wheat, so it requires less bleaching than red wheat flours.

    Nonetheless, is it still bleached?

    — Christine (last name unknown)
    Via the blog

    White whole wheat flour offers the same nutritional benefits as whole wheat flour.

    However, many bakers prefer this albino strand of wheat since it boosts fiber and phytonutrient levels while providing a milder flavor and texture (not to mention a lighter color!) than standard whole wheat flour.

    White whole wheat flour does not undergo bleaching.


    Yum-mega Treat

    As regular Small Bites readers know, I am a big fan of snack bars.

    I can’t tell you how many times they have saved me — and my wallet — from junk food hell (i.e.: Bronx Zoo, Six Flags, Broadway intermissions.)

    I also like to name names, which is why I have given very high praise to Lara bars, Clif Nectar bars, Pure bars, GNU Flavor & Fiber bars, and Kashi’s “Tasty Little Crunchies” granola bars.

    Although each of those bars is uniquely different from the others, they all provide high-quality nutrition in a delicious way.

    Today, my list expands to include Nana’s Omega-Fiber Cookie Bars.

    These bars are most reminiscent of Flavor & Fiber, and even have a similar ingredient list.

    Each bar offers 130 calories, 1 gram of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of fiber.

    Certainly a great lunchbox treat — and an even better snack to have handy at the office when thoughts of the King Size Crunch Bar in the nearby vending machine start to take over.

    Here’s the ingredient list for the double chocolate flavor (vanilla almond is my favorite, though!):

    Fiber Mix (Whole Wheat Flour, Oats, Wheat Bran, Psyllium, Flax Seeds, Millet, Chicory Root), Fruit Juice (Apple, Pear, Grape), Rice Dextrins, Chocolate Chips (whole grain malted barley and corn, unsweetened chocolate, soy lecithin as an emulsifier, and pure vanilla), Dutched Cocoa, GMO-Free Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Dried Apples, Raisins, Rice Crisp Cereal, Rice Syrup, Vegetable Glycerin, Baking Powder (non aluminum), Natural Flavors

    I do have two suggestions for the Nana’s team, though:

    1) No need to advertise your bar’s Omega-9 content. It is not an essential fatty acid, so we don’t need to particularly seek it out in food.

    2) The 250 milligrams of Omega-3 are great, but it would make them a lot more absorbable if you included ground — rather than whole — flax seeds in your fiber mix.

    Still, these are certainly worth making room for in your pantry.


    Not The Whole Truth

    When it comes to determining whether a particular brand of sliced bread, crackers, or cereal is 100% whole grain or not, the popular recommendation is to look at the ingredient list.

    If “whole wheat flour” appears as the first ingredient, the advice goes, you are dealing with a whole grain product.

    Although this is both true and accurate (and I myself have given such a recommendation), food companies are starting to wise up.

    They know consumers are seeking whole grain foods, but they want to continue using refined white flour.

    Their solution? Confuse, confuse, and confuse some more!

    There are now plenty of products on store shelves marketed as “whole wheat” that are not 100% whole grain, but rather a mix of whole wheat flour and white flour.

    A look at the ingredient list reveals that while “whole wheat flour” is listed as the first ingredient, “unbleached enriched flour” (AKA white flour) is second or third.

    A true whole grain product ONLY contains whole wheat (or any other grain) flour. Don’t accept cheap knock-offs!

    A quick way to spot the tricksters? Any product that states it is “made with whole grains” is usually a combination of refined and whole grain flours.

    As you know, I am a big fan of the Whole Grains Council’s stamp system.

    This particular portion of their website
    lists brands displaying their stamp (a “100%” stamp is a guarantee that you are getting a true-to-form whole grain food.)

    Definitely worth bookmarking!


    Numbers Game: Milling Mediocrity

    Several nutrients are lost in the milling process.

    For instance, “white” flour contains _______ percent less magnesium and _______ percent less vitamin E than whole wheat flour.

    a) 54, 86
    b) 92, 81

    c) 72, 90
    d) 68, 94

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Tuesday for the answer.


    Numbers Game: Answer

    Forty percent of adults in the United States consume a grand total of ZERO whole grain servings every day.

    Not the most encouraging of statistics.

    Although whole grains are increasingly more available, I suspect this has to do with a lack of education and knowledge.

    Many people, for instance, think multigrain bread is a whole grain. It’s not.

    Additionally, the overwhelming majority of new whole grain products come in the shape of sugary cookies or cereals “made with whole grains,” which can mean that as little as 5% of the total wheat flour used is whole.

    Not the best approach.

    If your whole grain consumption isn’t up to par, here are some ideas.

    — Whether at home or at a restaurant, opt for brown rice. Kitchen-phobes have no excuse. Many companies now offer brown rice that cooks in 10 minutes in the microwave. Nutritionally, it is equal to regular, longer-cooking varieties.

    — Enjoy whole wheat pasta, like DeCecco whole wheat fusilli (pictured at right). If you are brand new to it, make your dishes with half regular pasta and half whole wheat.

    — Eat whole grain bread (at least 3 grams of fiber per slice and ‘whole wheat flour’ as the first ingredient).

    — Experiment with alternative grains like quinoa and whole wheat couscous (they cook the exact same way as rice. All you need is a pot and water).

    — Add barley to your soups.

    — Start your morning with plain oatmeal (sweeten it up with fruits; add fiber and protein with walnuts or almonds)

    — Make sure your morning cereal is whole grain (again, look for whole wheat or oat flour as the main ingredient).

    — Snack on popcorn (air pop it or make it at home in a pot with a little bit of olive oil).

    — Make waffles and pancakes with whole grain mixes. If you buy frozen varieties, make sure they are whole grain.

    Remember, whole grains offer more health benefits than non-whole grains with extra added fiber.

    If you need more assistance, check out the Whole Grains Council’s amazing and extensive list of whole grain products. It’s the perfect supermarket assistant!


    Perfect Pickings: Sliced Bread

    You would think something as simple as nutritious bread would be easy to pick out.

    Guess again.

    The sliced bread market brings in approximately $18 billion a year, meaning consumers must sort through a maze of brands, health claims, and expensive marketing campaigns.

    Alas, Perfect Pickings is here to save the day!

    As far as calories are concerned, commercial sliced breads range anywhere from 60 to 120 calories per serving.

    These figures mainly depend on the thickness and weight of a particular brand’s slices.

    Some clock in at 1 ounce, while another weigh in at an ounce and a half. Some lower-calorie “light breads”, though, constitute a single serving as two slices.

    Most standard commercial breads, though, are very similar when compared ounce to ounce.

    Don’t focus too much on calories — the differences aren’t that significant, and there are more important values to consider.

    Sodium amounts are also fairly consistent across the board, ranging from 120 to 190 milligrams per slice (unless you specifically buy low-sodium varieties or sprouted grain breads, which contain no sodium).

    Fiber is the main figure to be on the lookout for. Aim for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.

    Don’t be fooled by varieties consisting of 9, 12, or 15 grains. It is very possible all 15 grains are refined and stripped of their fiber.

    You must check the nutrition facts and ingredient list to ensure you are getting a whole grain product.

    If “whole wheat flour” is not the first ingredient and each slice provides less than 3 grams of fiber, you are eating white bread (you can thank the addition of molasses for that brown color) with seeds sprinkled on top.

    If you see “enriched wheat flour” as the first ingredient, you are not buying whole grain bread. “Enriched wheat flour” is a nice way of saying “white, fiberless flour.”

    Keep in mind that Although pure rye bread – popular in Scandinavia – is a whole grain food, the overwhelming majority of rye breads in the United States contain a significant amount of white flour.

    Another tricky tidbit – careful with low-calorie “light” breads.

    Many boast a fiber content of 5 or 6 grams per serving, but this is mainly due to the addition of cellulose or soy fiber.

    Although they operate like insoluble fiber (by helping everything move quickly and smoothly through the digestive system), they do not provide the same health benefits as fiber derived from whole grains.

    I recommend avoiding varieties containing high-fructose corn syrup (bread requires a pinch of sugar to soften texture, but HFCS skeeves me out).

    Mission: (Semi) Impossible!


    More Numbers, More Problems

    Behold the latest curveball thrown at supermarket shoppers — “grams of whole grains”.

    When this trend first started in early 2007, I inwardly cringed and hoped for its quick disappearance.  Far from it — I keep seeing it on more and more products!

    It is my suspicion that with whole grains and fiber being the latest hot topics, food manufacturers hope to confuse shoppers looking to increase fiber intake by boasting about the grams of whole grains in their foods — two very different concepts.

    Consider this your “advertising-proof” tutorial on whole grains.

    Let’s start at the beginning.

    According to MyPyramid (also known as 2005’s “food pyramid 2.0”), adults who ate 2,000 calories per day should consume 6 servings of grains.  The USDA defines a serving of grains as one ounce (28 grams). Remember that figure, it will come in handy very shortly.

    MyPyramid distinctly called for half of those 6 grain servings to be whole (i.e: oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat cous cous, barley, etc.), rather than enriched (i.e.: white bread, white rice, etc.).  Strangely, the recommendation wasn’t “at least three whole grain servings,” but simply “three.”

    This is where it all starts to get confusing.

    If one ounce equals 28 grams, and we are asked to make three grain servings (AKA three ounces) whole, then the recommended daily intake of whole grains adds up to 84 grams (28 grams x 3 servings).

    Alas, if you look up whole grain serving recommendations, you’ll see a daily suggestion of 48 grams per day.  Some simple math (48 grams divided by 3 servings) tells us, then, that one serving of whole grains equals 16 grams.

    “But I thought one serving of grain equaled 28 grams.  Why isn’t a serving of whole grains also 28 grams?” you may wonder.

    Well, most whole grain products contain a variety of ingredients; not just flour.  It turns out, in fact, that a one-ounce serving of whole grains contains, on average, approximately 16 grams of flour (the other 12 grams are other ingredients, including yeast, salt, oils, etc).

    Although food labels do not list grams of whole grains, you have two ways of finding this information out.

    One is by claims on the packaging (such as the “Now with 5 grams of whole grains per serving!” stated on boxes of Teddy Grahams).

    Usually, though, these claims are made by products that sprinkle a little whole wheat flour on top of a product that is virtually refined grains.

    Considering that you need at least 48 grams a day, 5 grams is a pretty pathetic figure to bother writing about in such large font.

    The other is via the Whole Grains Council stamp (pictured at top left), which specifically lists the grams of whole grains per serving in a product.

    Some companies are still using old versions of the stamp, which classified foods as “good” (8 – 15 grams of whole grains per serving) or “excellent” (16 or more grams of whole grains per serving).

    What about fiber? How does it tie into all this?  An item high in whole grains is high in fiber, but products high in fiber are not necessarily high in whole grains.

    An Atkins chocolate peanut butter bar, for instance, contains a whopping 10 grams of fiber.  Since this is a low-carb bar, you certainly won’t find whole grains flour anywhere on the ingredient list.

    So how is this value achieved? Thanks to a polysaccharide known as cellulose.  Keep in mind that while this kind of fiber helps keep things moving, there are specific substances in whole grains that have been targeted in nutrition research as helpful in reducing the risk of several diseases.

    So, how do you put all this together without going insane?  Simple. Try to consume 25 – 30 grams of fiber from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds every day.  Generally, the foods that boast “x grams of whole grains per serving!” claims are wolves in sheep’s clothing.


    Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: Nana’s Cookies

    Who doesn’t love cookies? Particularly soft, chewy ones saturated with chocolate chips?

    I’m willing to bet you do.

    I also have a feeling, though, that you watch your cookie consumption, since you know they are empty calories.

    Delicious, sure, but nutritionally void.

    What if I told you I had a tasty, chocolate chip vegan cookie made with whole wheat flour and oats?

    Let me tell you more about it.

    It has no refined sugars, white flour, dairy, eggs, cholesterol, hydrogenated oils, or trans fats.

    Its first and second ingredients are whole wheat flour and rolled oats, respectively.


    If you took the bait — read carefully.

    Nana’s Vegan Cookies are available nationwide, and described by their creator as “extremely healthy”.

    I have tried them myself and can vouch for their flavor. They are absolutely delicious. Chewy, moist, flavorful, and better than most conventional cookies.

    When I truly want to indulge in a sweet treat, I pick one up.

    “Indulge? How bad can they be? They don’t have any of the ‘bad stuff’,” you may think.

    Well, a 3.5 ounce cookie (the only available size) delivers:

    • 410 calories
    • 320 milligrams of sodium
    • 22 grams (5 1/2 teaspoons) of sugar (in the form of fruit juices)
    • 3 grams of fiber

    From a caloric, that’s equal to 7 regular Oreo cookies!  In fact, that same amount of Oreo cookies only delivers 0.8 fewer grams of fiber than this cookie.

    I find that people tend to automatically equate vegan, dairy free, fruit-juice sweetened, and whole grain with “healthy”, when that isn’t always the case.

    Remember that fruit juice is, essentially, sugar water, and our body metabolizes it very similarly to sucrose (table sugar).

    My rule of thumb? Cookies are not supposed to be health foods.

    Sure, a cookie without trans fats and composed of whole grains is a slight improvement, but it is still a cookie.

    Therefore, treat it as such. Enjoy it, savor it, but always consider its calories discretionary.

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