Grains Galore!

Grains are an abundant food group in the ever-expanding worldwide food system. As a globalized population, we have access to a large variety of grains. Grains are a rich source of carbohydrates, with varying degrees of fiber and a small amount of protein and fat. Grains contain B vitamins, like thiamine and folate, and trace amounts of minerals such as iron and magnesium.

Grains Explained

Grains are the seeds derived from grasses called cereals. Cereals include oatmeal, popcorn, barley, wheat, rice, as well as some lesser-known grains like sorghum, farro and millet. Pseudocereals are seeds from non-grass plants, including quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth.

Whole grains include all three parts of the seed: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. If the bran or germ are removed from the kernel, the grain is no longer considered whole and is called a refined grain.

There are different types of refined grains. Enriched grains have the germ and bran removed with vitamins and minerals added back during processing. Enriched grains can be found in white breads and pastas. Fortified grains are refined grains in which vitamins and minerals are added above and beyond what was originally present in the product.

Fortified grains are commonly found in most breakfast cereals.

Why Whole Grains?

Whole grains are higher in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than refined grains. The higher fiber in whole grains aids in digestion and helps you feel more full after meals and snacks. Fiber improves cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol. The protein and fiber in whole grains can even help stabilize blood glucose levels through delayed glucose absorption. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in whole grains support the health of all the body systems.

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends making whole grain varieties at least half of the grains you eat each day. This would be about 3 servings of whole grains a day for most Americans. As an example, a single serving of whole grains would include one slice of whole wheat bread or ½ cup of brown rice.

To add more whole grains in your diet, try whole-grain snacks like pretzels, popcorn or graham crackers. The S’mores recipe below is a tasty and easy snack that includes whole grains!


If you’re looking for whole-grain products at the grocery store, read the ingredients list. If the first word on the ingredients list is “whole,” then you’ve found a whole-grain product!

By Kristen Howard MS, RD, LD, Clinical Dietitian II, Nutrition and Food Service Department

Whole Wheat S’mores


  • whole wheat graham crackers
  • mini marshmallows
  • dark chocolate squares
  • optional: ripe banana, peeled & sliced thin (other fruit would work as well)


  • Set toaster oven or conventional oven to 350º.
  • Lay graham cracker halves on a baking tray. Allow 2 squares per S’more.
  • Add pieces of chocolate on one graham cracker and a few marshmallows on the other. Repeat with remaining graham crackers.
  • Toast 2-3 minutes or just until the chocolate and marshmallows are melted or softened.
  • Remove from the oven, add banana slices if desired.
  • Close like a sandwich and enjoy!

Recipe Source: how2heroes. com/videos/quick-easy/ banana-whole-wheat-smores