Guest Post: Suzanne Monroe of Real Life Food

By Monday, October 26, 2009 ,

I asked my dear friend Suzanne, who is a fabulous food coach and wellness trainer, to break down the complex world of whole grains into digestible information for the "lay eater." Below she has provided a excellent primer on these "wonder foods," and has even included a link to a favorite recipe!

The next couple of my recipes will be devoted to some delicious and easy whole-grain meals.

Until then, happy eating, -s

Whole grains are all the rage. So what exactly are they? And what’s the difference between whole grain and products made with whole grain? Here’s how to cut through the confusing marketing jargon so you can make an informed choice about grains.

Imagine planting a row each of wheat, Wheaties and pasta. The whole wheat with its germ and hull intact, will grow and flourish. Indeed, whole grains are seeds. However, once a grain is flaked, rolled, puffed or milled into flour, it’s no longer a viable seed. It won’t grow. It’s lost its vital life energy.

So, even though breakfast cereals, pasta and bread are often marketed as “whole grain,” they’re processed grain products. Even though these products are made with whole grain flours, they’re still processed and have less life energy than the original grain. So, it’s ideal to eat actual whole grains more often than processed grains, whether they’re made with whole grain flour or not. Whole grains will keep your blood sugar and energy levels more even than any kind of processed grains.

Note: many people are sensitive to some grains, especially wheat and corn. If you suspect you have a sensitivity to wheat or corn, experiment with eliminating for two weeks and notice if you have any symptoms when you re-introduce them. While you’re doing your experiment, you can try quinoa, highlighted in the Food Focus below.
Food Focus: Quinoa
Quin-what?! Exactly. Pronounced “keen-wah”, this superfood has been cultivated in the South American Andes since at least 3,000 B.C. Nutritionally, quinoa might be considered a super-grain, although it is actually the seed of a leafy plant that's distantly related to spinach and swiss chard.

Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. Great news for vegetarians! And quinoa is especially high in the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. The grain is also a great source of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous. Quinoa may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis.

Quinoa's survival through the millennia may be attributed to the resinous, bitter coating that protects its seeds from birds and insects, called saponin. Most quinoa sold in this country has already been cleansed of its saponin, but quinoa should be rinsed thoroughly before cooking to remove any powdery residue. Place the grain in a fine strainer and hold it under cold running water until the water runs clear; drain well. To increase the digestibility of quinoa, soak for several hours before cooking.

Click here for Suzanne's favorite
Quinoa recipe:

Real Life Food Quick Tip
Little known fact: the longer you chew whole grains, the sweeter they become. It’s nature’s little reward for taking time to chew!

Suzanne Monroe is Food Coach and owner of Real Life Food. Suzanne helps busy people figure out what to eat and how to have more energy through her nutrition coaching programs. For more information on Suzanne’s programs, workshops, and recipes, or for a free food coaching session, visit

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