Seniors, Let’s Get Those “Good Carbs” in our Diets

good-carbohydrate-foodsOnly in recent years have we learned that carbohydrates can be an unhealthy part of our diet, especially if we eat too many of them. But we need to understand that carbohydrates, basically sugars, are necessary for our bodies to function properly. The key is determining which carbs are the “good” ones and which are the “bad.” Starches and sugars, the “white carbs” are not healthy. They add empty calories and unwanted weight. They lead to cravings and lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

So what are the good carbs? Well, they are fruits and vegetables and whole, unprocessed grains. Eating a variety of good carbohydrates provide us with the fiber we need in our diets to stay trim and healthy. They come in an amazing variety or shapes, sizes and colors. If you look for a variety of colors on your dinner plate, you’ll find you’re eating a healthy diet. When choosing fruits, you’ll find that those with more skin per unit have more fiber and antioxidants. So all fruits are good choices, but those like blueberries are the best food value. And don’t forget that air-popped popcorn is a whole grain when you want a salty snack.

Let’s take a look at whole grains you can add to your diet that may replace the white, starchy potatoes and rice we so often rely on for our meals. We’ll also supply several recipes for each of these healthy carb items to get you started using them on a more regular basis. Wouldn’t it be great to drop a few pounds, find some new, delicious recipes and know that we’re treating our bodies to good health? Here we go.

Whole Wheat Pasta, breads and brown rice

Whole wheat and brown rice are unprocessed for better food value. They have a stronger, richer flavor which may take a while to become accustomed to, but which you’ll appreciate with use.

Whole wheat spaghetti with garlic, parsley and lemon a tasty change from white spaghetti noodles and spiced up with parsley and lemon zest. Use extra virgin olive oil to sauté the garlic, parsley and lemon zest.

Whole wheat penne with broccoli and chickpeas uses just a bit of crushed red pepper to spice it up. Use canned chickpeas and freshly-grated parmesan to finish.

Baja black beans, corn and rice This recipe gets its zip from fresh cilantro, a diced jalapeno, fresh lime juice and a dash of hot sauce.

Quinoa

Quinoa is similar to cous cous. It’s a whole grain high in protein. For better flavor, be sure to rinse before cooking.

Veggie quinoa quesadillas begin with whole wheat tortillas and are filled with cooked quinoa and a medley of veggies including summer squash. Add cheddar and serve with sour cream or greek yogurt.

Zesty quinoa salad This easy to make side dish includes black beans, green onions, red pepper flakes, cumin and cherry tomatoes.

Barley

Barley comes in two styles and both are good sources of fiber to lower blood cholesterols. Pearled barley has the bran removed and quick-cooking barley has been parboiled.

Mushroom barley is made with caramelized onions done in olive oil and barley cooked with chicken broth. Season with dill and salt.

Barley and lamb stew is made with a lamb shoulder cut into bite-sized pieces. The carrots and barley are seasoned with fresh oregano.

Bulgur

Bulgur is cracked wheat that has been parboiled. Most recipes will require you to soak it in hot water before using. Pour the boiling water over and allow to stand for thirty minutes.

Bulgur with ginger and orange is a tasty side dish using fresh ginger, scallions, almonds and two whole oranges. It is seasoned with a bit of soy sauce and brown sugar.

Lemony bulgur salad with shrimp and spinach is a tasty salad using radishes, pine nuts, baby spinach and lemon zest to heighten the flavor of the shrimp.

Wheat Berries

Wheat berries are whole, unprocessed kernels of wheat. They are a good source of B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and fiber. Rinse and cook with four times the water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for up to an hour until tender.

Wheatberry black bean chili is a one pot meal using chipotle peppers and onions, and garnished with fresh avocados.

Wheatberries and sweet potatoes is a colorful dish using corn, broccoli, minced parsley, basil and chives and a hint of nutmeg.