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Prairie Fare: Make Half Your Grains Whole

To carry the title "whole-grain bread" or "whole-wheat bread," the product must contain 51 percent or more whole-grain ingredients.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

As I reached for a loaf of bread at the grocery store, I didn't mean to eavesdrop on the conversation next to me.

"Is this whole-grain bread? Whole grains are supposed to be good for your heart," the man said to his female companion.

"I'm not sure. It's brown and says 'stone ground' on the package," she replied.

"No, it's not whole grain!" I wanted to say.

I wasn't bold enough to leap into a private conversation and give them a lecture on nutrition. Maybe it would have been OK. Or maybe they would have thought I was very strange.

Just in case they happen to read this column, I'll explain now. If one person has a question, usually others have the same one.

We're advised to make half of our grain-based food choices "whole grains," according to the latest nutrition guidance found at For example, if your recommendation for grain foods is 6 ounce equivalents (the new name for "servings"), your whole-grain recommendation would be half that amount, or 3 ounce equivalents. An ounce equivalent of grain foods is a slice of bread or an ounce of cereal.

Whole grains consist of the entire grain kernel: bran, germ and endosperm. Enriched flour, a type of refined grain, is made up of the endosperm portion of the kernel.

Whole grains and refined, enriched grains provide complex carbohydrates, B vitamins and iron. Whole-grain bread has about 2 grams of fiber per slice, while most types of enriched white bread have one-fourth that amount. White bread, however, usually provides more folic acid, a B vitamin that can reduce risk of birth defects, among other health benefits.

Choosing whole-grain foods can be a little confusing. Brown-colored bread may contain molasses or an artificial color. "Stone ground wheat bread" and "multigrain bread" are not whole grains, but "whole-wheat bread" is. "Stone ground" refers to the way the wheat was processed at the mill.

To carry the title "whole-grain bread" or "whole-wheat bread," the product must contain 51 percent or more whole-grain ingredients. Look at the ingredient label to see if the first ingredient is "whole wheat" or "whole grain" flour for a clue.

Some whole-grain food labels carry a health claim. If the claim is present, the product is a whole grain.

Reap the benefits of whole grains. Enjoy more whole-grain foods, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, whole-grain cereal and brown rice.

Here's a tasty whole-wheat roll recipe from the Wheat Foods Council. For more information, visit

Whole-wheat Cinnamon Rolls

One package active dry yeast or quick-rise yeast

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/8 c. warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

1 c. fat-free milk

1/4 c. sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. shortening

1 large egg

2 c. whole-wheat flour

1 1/2 c. bread flour or all-purpose flour

Cinnamon Smear:

1 c. brown sugar, packed

1/4 c. margarine

1/4 c. flour or cake crumbs

1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp. fat-free milk

2 to 3 tsp. cinnamon (or to taste)

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand five minutes. Add milk, 1/4 cup sugar, salt and shortening to the yeast mixture. Stir in egg and whole-wheat flour; beat two minutes. Gradually add bread flour. Dough will be soft and slightly sticky. Knead until smooth and elastic, which takes 10 to 15 minutes by hand or 10 minutes with dough hook. Place in a greased bowl and turn once to coat. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm (95 to 100 degrees) place until double in size. Punch down dough; cover and let rise again. Punch down dough again; cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Mix smear ingredients together until smooth. Roll dough in a 12- by 16-inch rectangle and spread a layer of smear on the dough piece, leaving a 1-inch strip along one of the short edges uncovered. Brush the uncovered 1-inch dough strip with water. Beginning with the short, smeared edge, roll up, pinch to seal the unsmeared edge and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a greased 9- by 13-inch pan. Cover with a warm, damp towel; let rise in a warm (85 degrees) place until double in size. Bake in 375-degree preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden.

Makes 12 rolls. Each roll has about 274 calories, 51 grams (g) of carbohydrate, 6 g of fat and 3 g of fiber.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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