Confessions of a Wheat Germ Lover

Wheat GermA brief interaction on Twitter led Kretschmer Wheat Germ to me. They are considering me for a “Happy Wheat Germ User” feature, but needed to know more first.

Wheat Germ and Me

As a nutrition-loving baby boomer, it seems like I have always known about wheat germ. Along with soy protein and non-fat dried milk, it was part of Cornell Bread, a staple food developed for wartime rationing in the 1940s (well before my birth!) My first encounter with a regular wheat germ eater took the form of a woman from Switzerland I met in my late teens. She ate wheat germ for breakfast mixed with avocado and honey or as part of muesli along with yogurt. I like to add wheat germ to recipes for pancakes, muffins, veggie burgers, and meatballs. My favorite Wheat Germ Bread is from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book via Kretschmer Wheat Germ a long time ago.

The Original Super-food

As a registered dietitian, people complain to me about feeling stiff-achy-and-punk. Their children are listless and their parents are falling apart with inflammatory diseases and cancers. To them I say, “You really ought to be eating wheat germ!” Wheat germ is LOADED with B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid), vitamin E and essential fatty acids, the minerals iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper and zinc, plus protein and phenolic compounds. Wheat germ is the nazz! In fact, the germ is the richest part of the wheat kernel, which is why white flour is a problem: the germ (and bran) is tossed during in processing. Such a sin.

An Image Problem

A “germ” is a seed, bud, spore, or embryo, the basis of all new life. A plant germ is highly nutritious because it has the nutrients to support future growth.  A “germ” is also a microorganism, especially one that produces disease. People today don’t seem to know that one germ has nothing to do with the other. Wheat germ needs a re-branding campaign. I can help with that.

Here are three good wheat germ recipes from my recipe files at Calorie Count:

Your thoughts: Do you eat (and enjoy) wheat germ?

Adult Gummie Vitamins Save the Day

Have you noticed the explosion of gummy vitamins?  Every brand seems to make them now. I am most familiar with Nature Made, a company dedicated to demanding safety and quality standards. They introduced me to their new lines of supplements – Adult Gummies, Full Strength Minis, and VitaMelts – but today I am recommending the adult gummies because they saved the day – twice.

Case One
My 92 year old aunt needs vitamins. Her weight matches her age. This is Aunt Jean, not Aunt Pauline, who was helped a bit when Sugar-free Peeps Saved the Day. Aunt Jean cannot eat much because she has achalasia, a condition that affects the ability of her esophagus to move food toward the stomach, and so she has difficulty swallowing solids. She has had surgery and medications, but this is the best she can do. She clearly doesn’t eat enough, but I’m just the friendly visitor, not the Boost® police. Plus, she is picky, picky, picky. Her longevity is definitely not related to eating a balanced diet.
Aunt:      “Should I take these vitamins? Do they smell bad? They’re big”.
Me:         “You smell the minerals and, yes, those vitamins are too big. I recommend a multivitamin-mineral supplement that smells and tastes like candy. You can chew it.”
Aunt:      “I want that those.”
Me:         (Note to self: Picky eaters always like candy. Also, Nature Made describes their gummies as, “…mouth-watering, real fruit flavors like peach, mango and orange that taste like real fruit, not candy.”  I guess they had to say that.)

Case Two
My 29 year old daughter, Liza, has perfect health and a wonderful diet. (See A Whole Lotta Grain Goin’ On.) But – Liza is a preschool teacher surrounded by kids with colds. Back at school, week-one, she already has a cold. (Don’t give it to me!)  Perhaps a multivitamin-mineral supplement would help, if not for the nutrients, then for the affirmative action of taking it. Caveat: Liza does not swallow vitamin pills.
Me:         “Here, take this bottle of Nature Made Adult Gummies. I got it as a gift.”
Liza:       (90 days later and cold-free) I finished that bottle of vitamins. Do you have more?
Me:         “I don’t, but you can buy them in any drug store. Here is a coupon for $2 off.”

Conclusion:   Adult Gummies saved the day – twice.  As for me, I take Nature Made Full Strength Mini Multi for Her 50+. I have no problem swallowing little pills.

Your thoughts: Do you take a daily multivitamin-mineral supplement?

Breakfast (Cereal) With the Candidates

Choose between delicious Obama O’s and delectable Romney Flakes! Candidate Crunch, a limited edition breakfast cereal from Cerealize.com, is just plain fun. As much, or more, fun than binders full of women! I’m ordering a box of each.

Cerealize is a new company, in beta mode, that lets you create your own breakfast cereal and then they ship it to your home. The ordering is done online. I read about them in Food + Tech Connect, Breakfast with Obama and Romney, Courtesy of Cerealize.

Your thoughts: Would you buy custom-blended cereal?

A Whole Lotta Grain Goin’ On

I am keenly aware of “nutrition rules” that the average person does not understand. Take the rule, “Make Half Your Plate Whole Grains,” from the government’s Choose My Plate campaign. Whole grains are cereal kernels that include the bran, the germ, and the inner most part of the kernel (the endosperm) that are intact, ground, cracked, or flaked. Check out this image of a kernel. To follow the guideline, people may pick up some commercial whole wheat bread or a box Wheaties – both great – but not quite enough. We are really expected to eat whole grains in main- and side-dishes to reach at least three one-ounce servings per day. (E.g. one serving is 1 cup whole-grain ready-to-eat cereal, ½ of brown rice or some other grain, or 1 regular slice of 100% whole-grain bread.)

The Whole (Grain) Kit and Caboodle

While seated at my daughter’s kitchen table the other day, I looked up to see a teaching opportunity.  There, in her open cupboard, was an assortment of whole grains. I saw whole bulgur (cracked wheat), whole grain farro, sweet brown rice, quinoa (actually a seed, not a grain), whole wheat bread crumbs, wheat berries, amaranth, oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, Grape Nuts, Shredded Wheat, popcorn – couscous, orzo and panko bread crumbs (not whole grains) – and four legumes: red lentils, green lentils, black beans, and cranberry beans. Her whole wheat pasta, whole grain crackers and canned beans were on another shelf. From what I’ve seen, this is not your typical American cupboard.

Recipes!

Get ideas and recipes using whole grains from these bloggers: 101 Cookbooks, TheKitchn and Sprouted Kitchen. Yesterday, my daughter made this yummy Meyer Lemon Grain Salad with Asparagus, Almonds and Goat Cheese, but really, there are so many recipes on these sites.

To read more about whole grains, see my article for Diets In Review, The Whole Truth About Whole Grains, or hear me talk about whole grains in a Diets In Review’s Health Buzz video.  For a longer read, see Whole Grains The Inside Story from the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Nutrition Action Healthletter, a consumer publication that I’ve been reading for 30 years.

Your thoughts: How do you eat whole grains? What’s your favorite recipe? Please share!