Many Americans view themselves as healthy eaters and, according to a recent survey on the subject, 45 percent say they adhere to a healthy diet. But there may only be a grain of truth to that self-reported percentage.
On the first anniversary of the 2005 Food Pyramid recommendations from USDA, statistics show that Americans have been slow to heed this advice. Only 10 percent actually eat the recommended three servings of whole grains per day. The Whole Grains Council calls this the "Whole Grains Gap."
Fortunately, the rapidly growing awareness of the importance of whole grains is starting to make a positive change.
"The new food pyramid gets some credit, but whole grains have earned new respect in recent years through a parade of studies that show their role in reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, certain cancers, diabetes and obesity," said Dr. Julie Miller Jones, a nutritionist and Ph.D. in home economics/food science and nutrition.
Whole grain foods include pasta, breakfast cereals and breads made with whole grains and whole grain flours from wheat, barley, rye, corn, oats and brown rice and many other grains such as amaranth, bulgur and quinoa.
Miller Jones says eating more whole grains should be easier than eating extra servings of fruits and vegetables.
"Because we are already eating breads and other grain products, it's simply a matter of substituting whole grain products over the products made from highly refined flours we are at present consuming," said Miller Jones.
Finding recipes high in dietary fiber is easier than ever. For example, Fleischmann's Yeast has created about 100 delicious kitchen-tested whole grain recipes under its goodfibes seal. These recipes have no less than 0.8 grams and as much as 2.0 grams or more of dietary fiber per ounce of bread.
Here's a mouthwatering recipe for Whole Wheat Dill Bread, which has a satisfying savory flavor.
Whole Wheat Dill Bread
Whole wheat flour combines with butter, honey, dill seed and minced onion to make two loaves.
1 envelope Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup warm water (100º to 110ºF)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups cottage cheese
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup dill seed
2 teaspoons dehydrated minced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, slightly beaten
4 to 41/2 cups whole wheat flour
In large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water (100º to 110º F). Add sugar and let stand 5 minutes. Add cottage cheese, butter, honey, dill, onion, salt, baking soda and eggs; mix well. Add 3 cups flour; stir until combined.
Stir in 1 to 11/2 cups remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a clean towel or greased plastic wrap. Place over a bowl of hot water in an unheated (cool) oven. Let rise 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Remove from oven; punch down dough and divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf and place in greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. Cover. Return dough to unheated (cool) oven with a fresh bowl of hot water underneath on a separate rack and let rise one hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. (Remove dough from oven while preheating.) Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pans; cool on wire rack.