If you suspect that every white bread sandwich you've ever eaten was deposited on your thighs, you are probably right. Refined grains are stripped of most of their nutritive elements including fiber, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Essentially, white bread just adds empty calories to your diet and perhaps a few inches to your waist. Improve your diet by replacing bread with starchy vegetables and whole grains. Starchy vegetables including corn, lima beans and potatoes are higher in calories than other vegetables but still rich in nutrients. Whole-grain foods contain all of the original grain seed including the bran, endosperm and germ and are good for your heart health.
Replace dried bread crumbs with crushed, unsweetened bran cereal, ground oats or brown rice. Whole grains have fiber, which is essential for gastrointestinal health. For instance, 1/2 cup of bran cereal has 9 grams of fiber compared with the mere 2 grams in the same portion of white bread crumbs. You can make a delicious meatloaf by combining ground beef and pork with finely ground oats, eggs and spices. You'll hardly notice the whole grains in your meal.
Replace refined carbohydrates with whole-grain alternatives. If you normally eat toast for breakfast, eat hot oatmeal or fiber-rich cold cereal instead. Replace white sandwich bread with a whole-grain wrap for lunch.
Stock your pantry with whole-grain snacks. Air-popped popcorn has 4 grams of fiber and only 110 calories per ounce. Brown rice cakes are another good option. Be wary of granola bars and chips, which advertise whole-grain content. They may have a little extra fiber, but are often loaded with fat and sugar.
Replace bread with starchy vegetable side dishes. Mix a little butter and garlic powder with succotash and serve it in place of garlic bread on spaghetti night. Make an open-faced chicken Parmesan sandwich. Grill thick slices of parsnip and top them with grilled chicken, marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.
Make a spring pea pesto served over whole-wheat pasta. Puree green peas, olive oil, salt, garlic and spices to taste. Toss the pesto with whole-wheat angel hair pasta and garnish each serving with a bit of shredded Parmesan cheese. Steamed vegetables get old fast, but creative dishes will give you more enthusiasm for starchy vegetables.
Snack on starchy vegetables. Bake slices of white and sweet potatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt to make a healthy version of french fries. Purchase freeze-dried corn and peas to satisfy your craving for a crunchy treat.
- If you eat exclusively whole grains, you may need to take a folic acid supplement. Refined breads are often enriched with vitamins that are not found naturally in whole grains. Folic acid is particularly important if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your health care provider before taking any nutritional supplements.
Carolyn Robbins began writing in 2006. Her work appears on various websites and covers various topics including neuroscience, physiology, nutrition and fitness. Robbins graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biology and theology from Saint Vincent College.