Same month, different year. Did you know that September is National Whole Grains Month?

Thankfully, lots of good information has come out in the last decade about the need to return to whole grain foods, foods that are less processed, and foods without refined sugars and flour. Unfortunately, these can sometimes be hard to find on shelves at grocery stores.

According to the National Whole Grains Council,

"Studies show that eating whole grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, with some studies showing reduced risks from as little as one serving daily. Other benefits include reduced risk of asthma, healthier blood pressure levels, and better weight control."

Making the switch to whole grains isn't necessarily easy, but it is doable. Last year, we published a whole list for parents and families to use as a resource. This year, we have some fabulous recipes for you, courtesy of The Whole Grains Council and Quaker Oats.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Don't rely on front-of-the-package marketing to determine if a product contains 100% whole wheat or whole grains. Go to the ingredients list on the back or on the side.
     
  • There are whole grain products that also contain lots of sugar, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives. Don't obsess over every little preservative, but do read the ingredients, and educate yourself on nutrition labeling. Generally speaking, the fewer the ingredients, the better.
     
  • When you make a recipe from whole foods at home, you don't have to worry about preservatives, unnecessary processing, or too much sugar. You control the ingredients.
     
  • Just because a food is marketed as healthy, doesn't mean it is.
     
  • Make big batches of breakfast foods like oatmeal, whole-grain pancakes, and whole-grain waffles. Oatmeal can be refrigerated for 4 to 5 days and easily reheated on the stovetop. Freeze pancakes and waffles in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and then store in freezer bags.

Berry Almond Crumble Oatmeal, Courtesy of Quaker Oats

Topping Ingredients

  • ½ cup oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Oatmeal Ingredients

  • 3 cups fat-free milk or low fat soy drink
  • 1 to 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
  • 1 cup frozen (do not thaw) or canned (drained) blueberries

Method

For topping, combine oats and almonds in medium skillet. Cook over medium-low heat 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until both are lightly browned. Cool completely. In small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Add oat mixture; mix well.

For oatmeal, bring milk and cinnamon to a boil in medium saucepan; stir in oats. Return to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook 1 minute for quick oats, 5 minutes for old fashioned oats, stirring occasionally. Gently stir in blueberries. Continue cooking, until blueberries are heated through and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.

Spoon oatmeal into five cereal bowls. Sprinkle topping over oatmeal.

Contributor's note: I would use a little less brown sugar in this recipe, add 2 teaspoons vanilla, and double the cinnamon.

More recipes can be found at Quaker Oats.

This year, the Whole Grains Council is inviting consumers to check out the Whole Grains Stampede Sweepstakes. Lots of yummy prizes are up for grabs!

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