Following on from my Big G blog post about gluten, I thought I’d shed some light on carbohydrates too, as the two often get lumped together in the same ‘fattening foods’ category. The word CARBS often send shivers down the spines of those of us looking to watch our waistline, and a lot of people are even adopting diets which cut out all carbohydrates all together. But I’ve always believed the way to healthy eating is a balanced diet, and shock horror balance includes carbs! The right carbohydrates give your body and your mind fuel to get through the day, and provide essential sources of vitamins and fiber. It is the processed, refined carbohydrates that give their food family a bad name; things like refined white breads, doughnuts and cakes. These are OK once in a while, after all, we have to allow ourselves little pleasures now and then or we’d go crazy! But when eaten all the time, these processed, refined carbs increase the risk of heart diseases and diabetes.
Eating the right carbs, like the ones I list below, can actually reduce your risk of these diseases — and can even contribute to your weight loss because they’re generally rich in feel-full fiber!
1. Whole-Wheat Pasta, Bread and Rice
Next time you’re in the store buying pasta or rice for your next kitchen adventure, why not put a whole wheat variety in the trolley instead? Whole-wheat offers two to three times more fiber than refined white varieties of pasta and rice, but it is just as versatile and delicious! The same goes for bread too.
I have mentioned quinoa several times in my blogosphere and here I go again! It really is awesome.It is whole grain, contains fiber and a good amount of protein (vegetarians take note!) Research shows protein can help you feel full for longer, which means you’ll be less tempted to snack after eating quinoa. Tip: rinsing quinoa removes any residue of saponin, which is a bitter coat on the grain that can ruin the taste in cooking. Check out my summery quinoa recipe here.
There are usually two types of barley available in stores. Pealred and Quick Cooking. Pearled barley just means the bran has been removed, and while both contain soluble fiber that helps keep blood cholesterol levels healthy, pearl barley has a little more. I am a huge fan of pearled barley, check out my top three barley recipes below!
Pearl Barley and Black Rice Medley with Herbs, Sundried Tomato and Creamy Feta
Baby Gems Stuffed with a sauteed fragrant Leek, Pearl Barley, Mushroom and Feta Filling
Super Healthy Sautée of Pearl Barley, Pomegranate and Wild Rice
Yes, popcorn is actually a healthy snack when not topped with mountains of sugar and/or butter! When you’re craving a snack, instead of reaching for the crisps or the chocolate bars, make a fresh bowl of popcorn. It’s cheap, it’s a whole grain, and three cups of popped popcorn (the result of popping 1 tablespoon of kernels) is one of your three recommended daily servings of whole grain and contains 3 grams of fiber!
Other good carbohydrates include beans, oatmeal and sweet potatoes.