What is whole grain?

Grains maintain three parts:

The bran that is rich in fiber: Fibers that contain Vitamin B, minerals, protein and vegetable substances that occur naturally and good for health.

An endosperm made with mostly starch: Middle layer-the largest part is the main energy source of the vegetable. Carbohydrates, proteins contain low amounts of Vitamin B.

Very rich inner part (seed/germ): Even though it is the smallest part of the grain, it consists of many nutritious substances: Like important oils, minerals, Vitamin B, Vitamin E etc. Germ is a very small part of the grain, from approximately 1 ton of grain only 1 kg germ is obtained.

Whole grains consist of all three parts of the grain.

What is processed grain?

When grain is processed, the brand and seed part is removed. Only the endosperm, the energy source remains. This means losing a lot of nutritious substances. Color of refined foods is generally white. They are softer. The most common refined grains in the market are white bread and rice. Children who are fed with refined grains full up but they are inadequately nourished.

This is not the only problem with refined grains. They also have a high glycemic index. In other words they cause the blood glucose to go up and down very quickly. If the child has genetic predisposition, this will trigger insulin resistance and diabetes in the future.

Refined grains are very poor in fiber. This has negative effects on the digestion system of little gourmets and it may also cause constipation.

Why are whole grains healthy?

Children who eat whole grains do not get empty calories. What is an empty calorie? Foods that just full up the child but do not contain vitamins and minerals to support physical and mental development...The name itself tells the whole story... Thus whole grains are great sources of nutrition. These contain a lot of nutritional elements good for your child’s healthy growth.

Furthermore, they are rich in fibers and have positive effect on digestive system. They do not cause constipation.
They have low glycemic index and they do not cause sudden increase and decrease of blood glucose. They prevent diabetes and other common insulin resistance disorders of our time.

What is the difference between whole grain bread and whole wheat bread?

Whole grain bread may have been made with wheat, rye, oat or any other grain. Flour used for whole grain bread consists of all 3 parts of the grain: the bran, germ and endosperm. No element of the grain is decompounded. It is heavy and has dark color. It is nutritious and highly rich in vitamins and minerals.

White refined breads are made with flour produced from only the endosperm of the wheat. It gives energy but is low in sustenance. Whole- wheat bread is generally produced by adding some wheat bran to white flour. These are high in fiber compared to white flour but they are not as nutritious as whole wheat bread.

Is the whole grain rice the same with brown rice?

As the word whole grain is not commonly used among people, people call it brown rice more often. Even though there is a difference between whole wheat bread and brown bread, this is not the case for rice. In most cases there is no difference between brown rice and whole grain rice sold in the market. Just read the back of the package and try to understand whether the rice is processed or not.

Are semolina, cracked wheat, and oatmeal whole grains?

Semolina is not a whole grain. But it is extremely nutritious. It is the core ingredient of pasta and it is made of durum wheat. Durum wheat is different than the wheat used to bake bread. Its protein level is especially high.

Oatmeal is not a whole grain either. It is obtained like white rice, by separating bran and endosperm of the oat. Very important nutritional elements are lost in this process. We see that oat bran is sold in the market apart from the oatmeal. If you use these together, the loss of nutritional elements will be minimized.

Cracked wheat is classified as whole grain. It is made of wheat but due to the process, it does not lose its nutritional elements. For this reason pilaf made with cracked wheat is a better alternative to the pilaf made with white rice.

Do whole grains cause anemia?

We cannot say "Whole grains cause anemia". However it is true that whole grains lower iron absorption. Iron is already a mineral hard for the body to absorb. Even though we eat foods that are rich in iron, our digestive system can only absorb part of it.

Not only whole grains but also dairy products make it harder for the body to absorb iron. Iron- deficiency is very common in children. For this reason when following a diet for the children, it is important to use the methods that will increase body's absorption of iron.

As refined grains (white rice, white bread) do not have high nutritional values, it is not even an option to give up on whole grains. Instead of bread or pilaf made of white rice, you should feed your child with one or two spoons of legume or vegetables along with foods that are rich in iron (for example meatballs). Also feeding them dried red grapes and tangerine (Vitamin C enhances iron absorption) will be extremely useful.

As for whole grains, you may prefer to serve these with vegetables. Soaking the rice one night before makes cooking it easier. It is claimed that this also reduces substances that prevent absorption of iron.

Can my baby digest whole grains?

Starting from the first day you introduce solids to your baby, you can give them whole grains. As bran part of the grain is included in the whole grains, it is rich in fiber in contrast to processed grains. Fibers have significant positive effects on the digestive system. Remind yourself that the main reason for constipation in little gourmets is nutrition low in fiber.

Can I make formula/pudding using flour made of whole grains?

Yes, you can. In fact, you should. Any meal with whole grains will contain all the nutrients as they are not processed. But pay attention to some crucial information. You do not need to cook formulas with grains that are sold in the market. Because these formulas have been pre- processed. However you will need to cook puddings made at home with oats or rice.

What should I do when my child does not want to eat whole wheat bread and rice?

If you fed grains to your baby from the first day you introduced solids, you will have no such problem. It is just a prejudice that whole grain or rice is less tasty. When we get used to processed (white) bread and rice, we will not be fond of whole grains in the first place. This is common and true for your child as well. On the contrary if you have fed your baby with cracked wheat or brown rice and you give him white rice at the age of 2, he will not like it. Vice versa a child fed with classic pasta and rice will not be a fan of whole grain pasta at first.

For this reason, if you started feeding your child with processed grains, you should switch to whole grains before the age of 2 when the child starts to oppose everything and starts choosing his own food to eat. If your child is 2 or older, there is no doubt that this will be a difficult time. Anyway, it’s the age of rebel and opposition and the issue won’t just be grains. Your little baby is growing and she is building her own personality day by day. Although you might not be able to control everything, you might do your best with whole grains.

Here are useful and simple tips! You may try following in this transition period:

    •   Children take you as a role model. It is not realistic to expect from your child to eat brown rice while you are eating white bread/rice. You should start by changing your own menu.
    •   You don't need to replace all grains to whole grains. Start with your bread and then you can change the rice you eat. Or vice versa. Do the change nice and easy.
    •   Cracked wheat is cooked in all homes. If your child is used to eating cracked wheat, you may gradually eliminate white rice and replace it with cracked wheat. And in time you can add brown rice to his diet.
     •   If it's that time of the year when tomatoes are fresh, all your problems will be resolved. Children usually love rice/pasta with tomato sauce. A tasty sauce will minimize your child's decline of pasta and rice due to its color.
     •   You may make whole grain bread attractive by topping it up with something your child loves. Or you may put cheese on it and bake it to change its color and texture.
     •   If your child does not want to eat, you can explain to him in a plain language why does the brown rice or whole grain pasta look different and is healthier. Find the picture of wheat online and show it to him, take him to a mill or a place that sells grains and draw pictures of these together. This way you will have the opportunity to create a fun research project and make him part of this process.
     •   You can gather children who eat whole grain bread/pasta/rice and give them the opportunity to enjoy sharing a friendly meal. This will both be fun and encouraging about trying new tastes.
     •   You should avoid forcing your child no matter what. If he resists too much, maybe you can give it a try a month later. But you should continue eating whole grains during this time.
Where can I find rice, wheat, rye and oat flour? 
Back I the days they were a bit hard to find but it is no longer difficult to find whole wheat and rye flour. They are sold almost in all grocery stores.

Packed rice flour is made of processed rice. But flour made from brown rice is also being sold in organic stores and supermarkets. Brown rice itself is also sold in almost all grocery stores. If you cannot find flour made from brown rice, you can buy brown rice, wash and dry it (it may take a few days for it to dry) and use mixer to turn into flour. Rice is very stiff so you need a strong mixer. You may add small amounts of rice in every turn to protect the motor of your mixer. You can also use coffee grinder for this purpose; it’ll work perfectly.

Rye flour is also being sold in organic stores and supermarkets nowadays. However it is very hard to find oat flakes. Oat flakes are mostly sold at markets that sell natural products. It is possible to turn it into flour just like rice. In fact compared with rice, it is easier to grind the oat flakes. "Oat meal" sold in markets is a processed grain just like white rice.
Are grain-based formulas in the market made of whole grains? 
Mostly not... They are not made of whole grains and also they are processed. That's why you can serve it without cooking. You may just mix it with water or milk. Shelf life of whole grains is very short. The reason is that they contain a series of healthful oils that the processed ones don't. These oils also cause them to perish faster. As this is problematic for businesses, they do not prefer to use whole grains.
Are whole grains perishable, how should I store and cook them? 
When consuming whole grains, you need to pay attention to rapid deterioration and fungal growth risk. Whole grains have a very short shelf life. They deteriorate fast and fungal growth occurs easily. The reason for this is that they contain a series of healthful oils that the processed ones don't. These oils also cause them to perish faster.
You need to store whole grains in a cool and dry place. Especially in summer, when the weather is hot, keep them in the fridge. If you don’t, infestation is unavoidable.
Whole grains must be stored in grain form. In other words oat flakes deteriorate much later compared to flour. Thus if you do not rely on the store that you get them from, it may be better to buy them in grain form and grind them at home.
You cannot understand deterioration of whole grain visibly. Therefore you better taste it before you give it to your child. If it tastes bitter/sour, it’s not good, just throw it away. A pudding made with fresh whole grain would never taste like this.
If you do not trust the storage conditions of the store you buy these from, the best solution is to buy plenty of these at their harvest season and store it at your home under proper conditions.
If you are going to use brown rice, you must wash it thoroughly. Rice is grown in loam. Therefore you must wash it with plenty of water before using it.