Whole grain snacks must be “whole” to be healthy snacks. Cereal, pizzas, bread, pastries, cakes, muffins and other baked goods that are made of refined grain flours are everywhere! They are not only made of refined flour, they are also loaded with fats, sugar or salt, and various food additives. They won’t hurt if we eat them once in a while and have enough fibers in our diet. Unfortunately, they make up the bulk of the diet of most people nowadays.
As a result of an increasingly hectic lifestyle, many families have no time to prepare their own meals. Consequently, restaurants, eateries, and bakeries are flourishing especially in developing societies. If refined snacks are added to a diet that is already highly refined; if the food in your main meals is more or less the same as a refined snack food; my friends, I’m afraid not only diabetes but many other diseases will not be too far away!
Let’s look at the difference between whole grains and refined grains. In contrast to refined grains that contain only the endosperm (starches), whole grains are complete with the endosperm, germ, and bran. Therefore, whole grains would generally sprout while refined grains would not.
Please note that when grains are ground into flour, the surface area of the grains is increased. This allows enzymes to work more quickly to convert the starches of the grains into glucose. Therefore, regardless of the flour is made of whole grains or not, it can have the same effect on blood sugar by itself. For example, whole wheat bread and white bread can have the same glycemic index. However, if enough high fibre foods such as vegetables are eaten together, it is possible to slow down the absorption of glucose into the blood.
For those who have to manage their blood sugar levels, it is best to consume grains as close to their original form as possible to slow down the digestion of starches. A slower digestion of starches prevents spikes in blood sugar levels.
Whole grain snacks are not only rich in carbohydrates such as starches and fibers, they also contain proteins, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Whole grains are a better source of energy compared to fats and proteins. Due to the starches in whole grains that would eventually be converted into sugar by our body, it is better for those who need to watch their weight limit the portion size of their whole grain snacks.
You may enjoy this group of energy-dense snack foods in various forms such as:
Whole grain granolas (muesli). It is not for breakfast only! Remember to check the sugar content if you use commercial granolas. There are some that are sweetened with fruit juice. You may make your own.
Commercial whole grain bars products are available. Remember to read the nutrition label carefully. Whole grain bread. For snacking purposes, limit it to a slice or two. I prefer toast for it has a better aroma and toasted grains are easier to digest. Use low fat spread or unsweetened fruit preserves.
Wholemeal cookies or crackers. I love sesame sticks! You need to have only wholemeal flour, sesame seeds, some oil, and salt. And an oven!
Cook grains overnight into porridge using a crock pot. You may dump in some garlic and onion for a savory one or season it sweet with honey, date butter or raisins. If you’re very busy, cook more of the plain porridge and season it later as you wish. You may have a savory porridge and a salad as a main meal and a sweet porridge as a snack later.
Oat and rice milk or drinks with various flavors are commercially available, in both liquid and powdered forms.
Grain ice cream such as rice cream. You may purchase the commercially prepared or make your own. Friends, please keep in mind that whole grain snacks are energy dense food. Remember to limit your portion size. When you use commercial products, check the type of sugar added and its amount!