Tomatoes have been the subject of one of the world’s greatest debates. Are they fruits or vegetables? While technically classified as a fruit (a seed-bearing structure that develops from the fruit of a plant), tomatoes are considered a vegetable in modern cuisines because of its use in salads and savory dishes. Tomatoes, when perfectly ripe, are juicy, sweet, and great additions to any meal or snack. They’re great by themselves, too, sliced with just a sprinkle of salt!
Using the Diabetes Plate Method, your meal should be half non-starchy veggies, one-fourth protein, and one-fourth carbohydrate (carb) foods. If you have diabetes and are trying to make healthy food choices, then whole grains are the way to go for your carb choices. They have more fiber and nutrients than refined grains, two important elements that will help with diabetes management.
How to Incorporate Whole Grains into Your Diet
But how can you start incorporating whole grains into your diet? There are plenty of ways to increase your whole grain intake, whether they’re served as a side dish or the star of the meal. Here are six ideas to get you started:
Soups and stews: Cooked whole grains are perfect in stews and soups to create a hearty cool weather meal. Go for sturdy winter greens, add beans, tofu, or poultry for protein, and tomato paste for a deep, savory flavor. Try our White Bean and Vegetable Soup with Farro or our Turkey & Barley Soup for inspiration.
Bowls: Whole grain bowls are everywhere now, but you can easily make them for yourself and your family at home. What’s great about whole grain bowls is that you can design one that you shop for or create them out of leftovers—as long as the flavors complement each other. Our Japanese Chicken and Spinach Rice Bowls and Barley Hoppin’ John with Turkey Kielbasa combine grains, protein, and vegetables.
Another approach is to make brown rice, whole wheat couscous, or another whole grain and top it with a protein—from roasted shrimp or chicken to tofu or salmon—and add seasonal vegetables, herbs (perhaps some toasted nuts), and a low-fat dressing like Mango and Tomato Salsa, Avocado Lime Salad Dressing, or Triple Citrus Vinaigrette. You can be as creative as you want!
Salad: Add whole grains to a vegetable-based salad or create a salad around them. In cooler temperatures, make a wheat berry salad with ingredients like pieces of roasted butternut squash, kale, pomegranate seeds, toasted walnuts, and garbanzo beans or lentils dressed in a mustardy vinaigrette. You can try the Instant Pot Wheat Berry, Black Bean, and Avocado Salad for an easy fall dinner.
In the summer, enjoy quinoa with thin slices of Persian cucumbers and radishes, chopped strawberries, toasted pine nuts, sliced scallions, and fresh herbs topped with our Garlicky Cilantro Lime Dressing. In fact, almost any of the salads on our website can be adapted to add whole grains.
Pancakes: Include whole grains in your morning meal by turning cooked whole grains into pancakes. Mix them with herbs, spices, eggs, a little salt and pepper, grated low-fat mozzarella, onion, and minced or grated vegetables like mushrooms, zucchini, or carrots. Shape into pancakes, spray with olive oil or other vegetable oil, and bake in the oven until brown.
Stuffing: The holidays usually mean stuffing is on the menu. Try creating a unique stuffing using barley, wheat berries, or brown rice combined with fresh sage, toasted walnuts, dried fruit, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and low-sodium chicken broth. Not only can you stuff poultry, but give it a go in peppers, eggplant, squash (both summer and winter), and tomatoes.
Skillet: Try a one-pan meal that makes the most out of hearty grains like barley or farro. Cook it like you would make risotto, then wilt winter greens like kale, along with herbs and spices, into the hot grains and top it with cracked eggs. Bake until the eggs set, topping them with just a drizzle of olive oil. You can also add little pieces of low-fat cheese, some sliced mushrooms, or other vegetables you enjoy.
Don’t let yourself fall into a rut when it comes to incorporating whole grains into your diet. Try adding some of these recipes into your meal plans and find your new favorite ways to eat whole grains today!