Side dishes add flavor variation to our meals. The right choice of side dish can act as the palate cleanser that our meals need. For example, a good rice side dish can remove the taste of fish or chicken.
But, most of the side dishes that we usually cook and take could be unhealthy. They are either high in simple carbs or high in unhealthy fats. For instance, we often serve a bowl of white rice as a side dish which is almost pure starch and unhealthy.
So, finding healthy alternatives is the solution to ensure we incorporate healthy side dishes as an accompaniment to our meals. We’ll look at 5 healthy grains you can use in your meal planning to make delicious and healthy side dishes in this post.
What are Grains?
Grains are the seeds of grasses such as wheat, rice, maize, or barley. Grains are high in carbohydrates and can be eaten whole or ground into flour.
Usually, whole grains are not refined and contain all their original parts; hence they form an essential part of our healthy diet and are a great energy source.
But, there being so many different types and varieties of grains available, we need to know which ones are the best and the healthiest for us.
Health Benefits of Grains
Grains are a great source of carbohydrates and fiber. They are low in fat and calories, making them ideal for a healthy meal plan.
All whole grains contain three nutritious parts. The outer layer of the grain is called the bran, and it contains fiber, iron, B vitamins, and many other nutrients. Bran is a good source of soluble fiber, which helps lower blood cholesterol levels.
The inner parts of the whole grains are germ and endosperm, which are rich in nutrients too. Germ is rich in vitamins, healthy fats, and antioxidants, while the endosperm is rich in proteins, minerals, carbohydrates, and small bits of vitamins.
Therefore, adding healthy whole grains to your meals is one of the great ways to ensure more nutrients and fiber in your diet. It’s the best way to ensure you are eating healthy meals.
5 Types of Healthy Grains For Side Dishes, and Their Health Benefits
Here are 5 healthy grains that are great to keep in your pantry and include in your meals:
- Barley. Barley is a nutritious and healthy food that contains vitamins and minerals. It helps in preventing diabetes, cancer, and constipation.
- Bulgur wheat. Bulgur wheat is high in fiber, iron, B vitamins, folate, magnesium, and potassium.
- Brown rice. Brown rice has an abundance of manganese and fiber it’s excellent for digestion due to its healthy fiber content.
- Quinoa. Quinoa is a gluten-free whole grain that is high in protein. It has also been linked to fighting cancer, preventing heart disease and diabetes, and promoting weight loss.
- Cornmeal. Cornmeal is made from grinding whole corn. It is a very fine flour and can be substituted for wheat flour as well as rice flour in most dishes. Cornmeal helps in the prevention of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and heart diseases.
How to Prepare Grains
There are various ways of preparing and eating grain meals. Grains can be cooked in multiple ways, with different ingredients, and turned into several forms of dishes like porridge, pilafs, puddings, salads, stuffed vegetables, and much more.
Notably, the whole grains can be cooked and eaten alone in basic recipes or used with other ingredients for an extra boost of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Many of these grains can be found online and at your local supermarket. They are pantry staples and will help you create healthy meals all the time.
Recipes ideas you cab make
- HOW TO COOK BROWN RICE ON THE STOVE
- EASY BULGUR WHEAT WITH RED BEANS, PEPPERS AND ONIONS RECIPE
- CORNMEAL WITH SPINACH
- WARM PEARL BARLEY WITH MUSHROOM SALAD
You can use any or all of the whole grains in your side dishes recipes based on your preference and availability of the grains. Lastly, always check how many calories you consume and ensure you serve a balanced diet.