Top 10 Whole Grains to Sample

Have you heard?  Wednesday April 2nd, was Whole Grain Sampling Day.  Whole Grain Sampling day is a unique opportunity organized by the Whole Grains Council that gives everyone the opportunity to try whole grains at favorite restaurants, cafeterias and more all day long.  Talk about some whole grain love!  A whole day when you’re offered dishes, samples, discounts and freebies, all with the single goal of introducing your taste buds to delicious new whole grains.  Win for your inner foodie; win for your health.

Because they can never get too much publicity in our book, these budget-friendly, healthy and thoroughly tasty ingredients, whole grains, are in the Food Friendzy spotlight once again thanks to Whole Grain Sampling Day.  There’s a long list of whole grains out there just waiting for you to bring them home, but here are 10 whole grains to be on the lookout for every day of the week at local restaurants and markets:

  • Amaranth – while not technically a grain, it so similar nutrition-wise that it has just become part of the family.  It’s high in complete protein and can be enjoyed in dishes like this Popped Amaranth Crunch for a savory whole grain snack.
  • Barley – Loaded with fiber, this grain may take a little longer to cook, but it’s worth the wait!  Barley is a tasty addition to soups and can make a mean risotto!
  • Buckwheat – This grain has a tasty, nutty flavor, and according to the Whole Grains Council, “Studies show that it improves circulation and prevents LDL cholesterol from blocking blood vessels.”  Look for this grain in soba noodles, kasha and more.
  • Bulgur – This common Mediterranean grain is actually made up of wheat kernels that have been boiled, dried and cracked, making it a good choice when you’re short on time.  Find it in recipes like this Tabbouleh from Pasha’s Healthy Mediterranean Cuisine.
  • Corn – That’s right – corn is a whole grain, and it actually has pretty high levels of antioxidants for your healthy diet.  Pop up some popcorn, enjoy corn on the cob, or order up a Healthy Dining pick with corn tortillas like the Taco al Carbon (160 calories, 6 g fat) at El Pollo Loco to take advantage of the health benefits of corn.
  • Millet – As a gluten-free and higher protein grain, millet is quickly gaining popularity in diets across the country.  Enjoy it as part of recipes like this one for Millet Burgers with Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Pecorino.
  • Oats – Versatile and a powerhouse of fiber to help reduce cholesterol, oats are an old favorite when it comes to whole grains.  Get new ideas for including them in your diet here.
  • Quinoa – This popular grain can be found in salads, sides and more these days, thanks to its unique flavor and abundance of complete protein.  More and more restaurants are featuring quinoa on their menu for guests to enjoy. 
  • Rice – With a wide variety of rice out there, it’s important to focus on the whole grain versions like brown rice, black rice and red rice, instead of white rice. 
  • Rye – Originally considered a weed, this whole grain is now a staple at the bakery and deli.  Rye can be a dieter’s best friend, thanks to plenty of fiber and a food lover’s go-to bread for its rich, signature flavor.

What’s your favorite whole grain choice when dining out?

Take advantage of the whole grain choices available each year for Whole Grain Sampling Day and any day for flavor and health!