Whole Grain Sampling Day

Whole Grain Sampling Kit

Today is Whole Grain Sampling Day! You may remember that last year I was a whole grain ambassador, and I am happy to be a whole grain ambassador again this year. What does that mean? It means I get to tell you all the great things about whole grains!

Whole grains contain the three edible parts of a grain: the outer bran layers, which are rich in fiber and B vitamins; the germ, which is full of antioxidants; and the starchy endosperm. Because refined grains have the bran and germ removed, they are missing a lot of essential nutrients. So if you're trying to get the biggest bang for your buck healthwise, whole grains are the way to go.

You'll be getting extra antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals by incorporating whole grains into your diet. For example, according to the Whole Grains Council, corn has almost twice the antioxidant activity of apples, and wheat and oats almost equal broccoli and spinach in antioxidant activity.

You can find whole grains just by looking for the Whole Grain Stamp on package labels. The stamp guarantees that you're getting 8 g or more whole grains per serving. If the stamp says "100%," then the product you're looking at is all whole grain.

Whole grains include hulled barley, brown rice, buckwheat (think soba noodles), whole corn, oats, whole rye, whole wheat, wild rice, amaranth, millet, quinoa, triticale, and teff.

And even if you can't eat gluten, you can still eat a lot of whole grains. Corn, rice, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, amaranth, and wild rice, among others, are gluten-free whole grains.

I admit that I don't incorporate as many whole grains in my diet as I would like. But whole grains are easy to cook, and the sampling kit that the Whole Grains Council sent me included tons of products that are full of whole grains, many that I found made great quick snacks.

My whole grain sampling kit this year included:
I haven't had a chance to try everything in the kit yet, but here are some thoughts on what I have tried.

Barbara's Snackimals Cereals are awesome. Sure, they look like something a mom would keep in a diaper bag to appease a starving toddler (and I'm sure they'd go over quite well in that situation) since they're shaped like little animals, but for me they were the perfect thing to snack on at work. I didn't even put them in milk, just crunched on them to stave off hunger. I loved the Cinnamon Crunch and Vanilla Blast flavors equally.

The Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Honey Oat Granola was delicious tossed in some almond milk. It's nice and crunchy and lightly sweet.

HomeFree Treats chocolate chip cookies are nice and crunchy with little hints of chocolate, just the sort of thing I need for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Mary's Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks are more like hollow, crunchy sesame sticks. I loved how crunchy and light they were.

Wheat Thins -- what's not to love about Wheat Thins? They're one of my favorite crackers and I'm happy to know they're supplying me with whole grains. I'm also a big fan of Triscuits, but Sour Cream & Chive (which I got to sample) is not my favorite flavor. I'm sure I'd love the original crisps or the cinnamon sugar ones though!

I got to try the Oat Chocolate Chip Coconut Whenever Bars, and now I really want to find them at a store near me. The bar was soft and chewy with great chocolate flavor and hints of coconut. It was like a hearty and filling cookie.

The Real McCoy's Snax Rice Puffs had Vermont white cheddar and were great for snacking on. They were crunchy and light, with just enough flavoring (meaning you could taste the cheese but it didn't end up all over you).

Skeeter Snacks' Nut Free Chocolate Chip Mini Cookies are crunchy and studded with lots of chocolate chips. I could snack on these all the time. Skeeter Snacks are great for those with nut allergies -- they're completely tree nut and peanut free.

I love Upfront Foods' granola. The premise behind the name is that you always have to search for the ingredients and nutrition information on products. At Upfront, everything is right up front. And the ingredients are all normal, pronounceable things. We're talking oats, brown sugar, cranberries, sea salt... You can't go wrong with such a tasty combination of ingredients.

And I have big plans for that corn flour. Think Momofuku Milk Bar corn cookies!

I'll update this post as I try more of the products, so be sure to check back, and in the meantime follow the links above to read more about these whole grain products!

How do you incorporate whole grains into your diet?

I received a selection of whole grains to sample but was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.