If you follow me on Instagram you will have noticed that over the past couple of weeks a large number of my photos were based on wholegrain meals this was because I had undertaken a challenge set by Mumsnet and Wholegrain Goodness to raise awareness of the benefits of wholegrains as part of a healthy balanced diet, and to inspire and motivate people to eat them.
As a mother it’s very important to me that Lucie is eating balanced meals at home, she no longer takes a packed lunch as all of her friends eat from the canteen at school meaning that 5 days a week I have no idea what she is consuming (I imagine it is not healthy food).
Trying to get Lucie to eat breakfast is a difficult task as she is always rushing however if I offered her a piece of chocolate cake or a biscuit she would probably snap my hand off! David always eats breakfast which is usually cereal or toast and during my pregnancy I have made a conscious effort to eat breakfast (usually I would skip it).
We always sit down together for our evening meal which except for the odd occasion is always prepared by myself from scratch so I know exactly what we are eating, I know from reading my blog most readers would think I eat out an awful lot but in all honesty I don’t and when I do it is usually on a weekend after 5 days of healthy eating.
Here’s what wholegraingoodness.com say about the challenge:
“Most of us know it’s important to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg every day, but what many of us don’t know is that we should be eating more wholegrain to keep us healthy too. Nutritionists around the world encourage eating at least three servings of wholegrain a day. But despite the nutritional benefits, national surveys show that 95% of UK adults fail to reach three servings a day. In fact, on average, most of us don’t even eat that in a week, and almost a third of us don’t eat any at all. To help us inspire mums to get more nutritious wholegrain into their family’s diet, take part in our wholegrain challenge”
The challenge lasted for two weeks, from Mon 21 Jan to 3 Feb 2013 and was to include wholegrain in one meal or snack for the family per day for two weeks, using a variety of wholegrain foods available. My first step was to find out what a wholegrain actually was so I headed to the Wholegrain Goodness website to get some information.
I headed to Tesco with my £10 gift voucher a picked up a variety of wholegrain foods, I already had some wholemeal flour, wholemeal self raising flour, wholegrain crackers, oats and noodles in the cupboard.
My next plan was to try and do some meal planning, David and myself had already agreed that we would have porridge for breakfast most mornings and I would bake a loaf of wholemeal bread every couple of days rather than buying shop bought bread for snacks and sandwiches.
For 10 of the 14 days I ate porridge for breakfast, I found it to be very filling, adding different fruits each morning ensured that I didn’t get bored of eating it. My favourite Porridge was with some chopped banana. Even when I woke her up earlier than normal I couldn’t get Lucie to eat a bowl before school as she always said she wasn’t hungry.
Making my own wholemeal bread was simple to make by hand and tasted so much better than store bought. On the days that I didn’t eat porridge for breakfast I had toast made out of my bread. I managed to get Lucie to have toast on 6 out of the 14 mornings although on 4 occasions she took it into the car to eat rather than eat it in the house.
Whilst looking through the cupboards to see what wholegrains I already had, I came across a bag of Allinson wholemeal self raising flour so decided to make a chocolate cake to have as one of our snacks. After posting my photographs on instagram I had a number of requests for the recipe which I will be posting to my blog in the future. The cake didn’t rise as much as it would have done if made with a white flour, it was a little dense and only stayed moist for 2 days before cream was required but I was very happy about how this turned out.
Using the same recipe for the cake I made a batch of Chocolate cupcakes which also served as snacks.
Flapjacks were the next snack for me to make, I actually made a few different variety of flapjack including plain, raisin and dried apricot. The three tray bakes of flapjacks made enough to last the full 14 days.
Using a non stick pan with lid I successfully managed to make popcorn using no oil, butter or sugar. Instead of Lucie grabbing a chocolate bar, biscuit or crisps after school she had a small bowl of popcorn as a snack. I was very surprised at how easy this was to make, it did need to be watched like a hawk in the pan as a couple of seconds too long made the popcorn burn, I found it easier to do small batches at a time.
For 11 out of the 14 days I had either wholegrain crackers, wholegrain bread or cous cous with my lunch, David joined me on 8 of these days. Lucie had sandwiches made with wholegrain bread on 4 of these days.
Incorporating a wholegrain into our evening meal was so much easier than I had initialy thought it would be. Lucie did complain on a couple of occasions that she didn’t like the brown rice however this did not stop her clearing her plate, not one of us could tell the difference between wholegrain pasta and white pasta and my pizza made with wholegrain flour went down just as well as the ones I make using white flour.
Lucie’s favourite dish was this Whole meal pasta with broccoli, green beans and asparagus with a touch of cream cheese, she loved it so much it was requested on 3 evenings!
We had this Chicken, Sweet potato and chickpea curry with brown rice on two different evenings, I found the brown rice gave the dish a nicer texture and I really liked the nutty flavour.
I made Spaghetti bolognese twice using quorn mince and brown spaghetti, this was a big hit in the house so I then made it a third evening using brown pasta baked in the oven with mozzarella cheese.
One evening we had homemade spicy fishcakes with giant vegetable cous cous and salad
We had a Chicken and Veg curry with mixed brown rice one evening which was delicious.
On two occasions I experimented with a wholemeal flour and polenta pizza base which went down very well with the family, I served this with cous cous salad just to add an extra bit of wholemeal into the diet.
After eating wholegrains for 14 days I have decided to switch my white rice and pasta for a wholegrain variety and to incorporate more cous cous into our diets. I will try to use wholegrain flour whenever possible and will continue to make my own bread and snacks.
Do you eat wholegrains as part of your diet? After reading this do you think you may be persuaded to switch?
I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network, a group of parent bloggers picked by Mumsnet to review products, services, events and brands. I have not been paid for this post though I did receive a £10 supermarket voucher. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity