Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Whole wheat options

We have always used whole wheat bread at our house, except for the occasional loaf of homemade bread I make using this easy recipe. The majority of the time, we eat store bought 100% whole wheat bread. It's one of the good habits I picked up from my mother. Growing up, we always ate wheat bread, skim milk and never had soda in the house. I do really like Diet Pepsi, BUT it's a "treat" when I go out; never kept at home.

Anyway, I have been reluctant to go whole wheat in other areas: pasta, rice, tortillas. And I'm still sticking with my regular pasta... it's just sooo much cheaper (I bought 10 boxes last week for 50 cents each!). When my mom eats dinner with us, I use a low carb pasta -Dreamfields brand- because she is diabetic. The Dreamfields really does taste just like regular pasta... but costs about 3 times as much. In the past, however, whole grain rice and tortillas just didn't taste very good to me (or my family).

Recently, I purchased 100% whole grain brown rice (Uncle Ben's is the brand I like) and 100% whole wheat tortillas and have actually liked them so much, I'm officially making the switch! What I have discovered is that whole wheat varieties need a little something extra. So here are two ideas that work for us, and I thought may be useful to others who want the health benefit of whole wheat but don't like the flavor.

Brown Rice Pilaf

I LOVE this. So yummy. I make big batches because it makes a great lunch the next day. Add some chunks of chicken and you've got yourself a healthy, easy, one pot supper!

Are we all okay with "non-recipe" recipes? I have no exact measurements for you. BUT I did do sequence photos! Look at me, gettin' all fancy! Okay I actually just have 2 sequence pictures and one very bad finished product picture. I sorta forget to get my picture until we had eaten half of it already!

Anyway, I saute some veggies: onion, carrot, red and green pepper, minced garlic... but you do your favorites (mushrooms and broccoli would be great to me but not to Seth) in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. You can make your rice as heavy or light on the veggies as you prefer. I say the more the merrier!

When the veggies begin to get tender (just a few minutes on medium heat), add your rice. I put in 1 1/2 c. rice. As long as you have double the liquid as rice, you make as much as you want. Because brown rice needs that extra help to be yummy, I used half chicken broth and half water for my 3 cups of liquid. And then I season it liberally. Cracked pepper, salt, chili powder.... you can do whatever you like. An Italian seasoning mix works good, too.
The difference between cooking brown rice verses white rice is longer cook time. So this needs to be brought to a boil, then reduced to a simmer for 30 minutes, covered.

We love this. It's filling and healthy and cheap. Can't beat that! So give brown rice a try; just season it a whole lot!

Whole Wheat Tacos

My other adventure in whole grain was with tortillas. I'm from California. I love Mexican inspired foods. Now, I live in a an area of the country where if it ain't Italian, people don't even know what you're talking about. ☺ I say guacamole and the kids in our youth group scrunch up their noses at me. I went to a "Mexican" restaurant here and ordered horchata and they had no idea what I was saying. In a Mexican restaurant.... they didn't have a Mexican drink. They'd never even heard of it.
We're not California anymore, Toto.
Anyway, I have had to learn how to cook a few favorites. I can't seem to make chili quillas, so if anyone wants to teach me or, or better yet just make some and bring them to my house, I'd greatly appreciate it. ☺
All of that was just to say that while some people may not care a hoot about tortillas... I do. And I wanted to eat healthier wheat versions so I gave them a try. They really aren't bad all by their lonesome. Some wheat products are way different than their white flour counterparts but surprisingly, tortillas are a good thing to branch into whole wheat because they are pretty good.
I made taco cups with mine by cutting slits as so:

Lightly brush them with olive oil (or whatever oil you want) and push them into a muffin tin. On Christmas, I made mini tacos for an appetizer using a mini muffin tin and bigger tortillas cut into fourths, then slit. For the regular muffin tin, these tortillas were fajita or taco size.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until golden brown. These were filled with taco seasoned chicken but you can use your favorite taco fillings.

Of course I had to go and corrupt the nice healthy whole wheat tortillas with a big glob of sour cream. I wouldn't want to be accused of being a health nut. ☺



Korina said...

I sooo wanna work on creating my own recipes. So much fun and so much cheaper than following cook book recipes!

Anonymous said...

Really great idea! I love the whole muffin tin idea! I just recently found your blog and I check it every time I'm at my hubby's office. You have me laughing and crying in the same day! Very uplifting and full of great ideas! I showed Scott Paul Seth's bathroom makeover-- our church will be renovating theirs soon.
--Erin Roberts, Salisbury, MD

Kayte said...

ERIN! So glad to hear from you! =)(Whenever I think of you, I remember Bro. Daniel would always mistake me for you! Which I take as a serious compliment!)