Sarah’s 2-year-old son, Ben, pulls shoes from her closet rack as she speaks on the phone. Her husband, Tyler, a first-year resident, is away on one of his many long shifts at the hospital. “I try to get as much healthy food in our meals as I can, but mostly I focus on vegetables.” Sarah hasn’t found a whole-grain bread Tyler likes; he often eats at the hospital cafeteria, where (ironically) healthy options aren’t always easy to find. The family loves pizza and Asian food and would like to incorporate whole grains into those. Sarah likes to cook, but nap time is her only window for doing it.
There are some great options for people who don’t love the flavor of whole-grain products, as well as quick alternatives to longer-cooking grains.
- Try whole-white-wheat bread and other whole-white-wheat products. This isn’t a bait-and-switch gimmick; whole-white-wheat flour is made from an albino variety of wheat that contains all the nutrients of its darker counterpart. Bread is the most common product made from it, but you can also find crackers and baking mixes.
- Cook in bulk. Make whole-grain salads in advance, chill, and enjoy for easy, quick-to-pack lunches. Try recipes with lots of herbs and vegetables, like our Bulgur Salad with Edamame and Cherry Tomatoes; stir in leftover chicken or shrimp to vary the flavor from day to day. See more recipes for whole-grain salads.
- Make a whole-grain bed for Asian dishes. Boil-in-bag brown rice is a fast partner for stir-fries. Or try 100% buckwheat soba noodles, which cook in less than 10 minutes. Other quick options are bulgur (cracked wheat) and 100% whole-wheat couscous, ready in minutes and great with saucy curries or stir-fries.
- Sample other 100% whole-grain pastas besides whole-wheat. Try brown rice, kamut, rye, spelt, or multigrain pastas. Their flavor can range from slightly to very pronounced, so plan to serve with bold-flavored sauces, such as a garlicky-herby marinara or a robust mushroom sauce.
- Make whole-wheat pizza crust from either whole-wheat flour or whole-white-wheat flour. Either way, once you add yummy toppings, the whole-graininess is barely detectable. Make a big batch, and freeze in one-pizza quantities. Try our favorite Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough recipe.
- Look to tortillas and wraps. For quesadillas, tacos, and homemade chips, go for 100% whole-wheat flour tortillas. Or for more interesting lunches, wrap sandwiches in 100% whole-wheat or whole-grain flatbreads, pitas, or wraps.
- Trade in your crackers for whole-grain options like reduced-fat Triscuits or Wheat Thins—an easy lunch with chicken salad, perfectly packable for Tyler.