In our Scandinavian household, neutral-colored food was abundant while I was growing up. Yah, sure, we Scandinavians still get teased about our somewhat drab-appearing traditional foods and some of our expressions, too.
You bet I liked the taste of brown-shelled eggs and brown bread.
The adults in my life accommodated my tastes. The farmer who delivered eggs to our family always filled half a carton with brown ones for me. Little did I know that the only difference between white and brown eggs was the color of the shell. The color difference was good enough for me.
My mother would make at least one loaf of “brown bread” every week because it was my favorite. Taste was No. 1 to me. I was not a budding nutrition specialist.
Now I know that some kinds of brown bread and other whole-grain foods are especially good for health. Eating at least three daily servings of whole grains may reduce the risks of heart disease, certain kinds of cancer and possibly diabetes. A serving of whole grains is 1 ounce of whole-grain cereal, one-half cup of cooked whole-grain rice or pasta or a slice of whole-grain bread.
If aiming for more whole grains in your diet sounds appealing, remember that “brown” bread isn’t necessarily “whole-grain” bread. For example, cracked wheat, pumpernickel, 100 percent wheat and rye bread appear “brown” but technically they’re not whole-grain foods.
Whole-grain foods contain all parts of the wheat kernel, including the bran, germ and endosperm. The bran is the outer shell that protects the seed. It’s rich in fiber, B vitamins and trace minerals. The germ contains B vitamins and vitamin E. The endosperm provides energy in the form of carbohydrates and protein.
Many whole-grain foods, including cereals and breads, are on the market. Deciphering whole-grain bread from brown bread may take a little detective work. Pick up the package and check out the ingredient label. If the product lists “whole-grain” (followed by the name of the grain) or “whole wheat” as the first ingredient, it’s a whole-grain food.
Some food companies have placed a “whole-grain” seal on their product packages to make selecting whole grains easier for us. Other food companies list the health claim allowed by the Food and Drug Administration on products that meet the whole-grain standards: “Diets rich in whole-grain foods and other plant foods that are low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risks of heart disease and certain cancers.”
Here’s a recipe reprinted from the Wheat Foods Council website. It features whole-wheat flour as an ingredient, and you don’t need to use brown-shelled eggs. Enjoy it with fresh fruit and a glass of cold milk.
Whole-Wheat Angel Food Cake
1 3/4 cups egg whites (about 12 to 14 large eggs)
1/2 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
In large bowl, let egg whites warm to room temperature, about one hour. Sift cake flour, whole-wheat flour and 3/4 cup sugar together. Repeat process three times; set aside. Beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar at high speed until soft peaks form. Add remaining 3/4 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time, to egg white mixture, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. With rubber spatula, gently fold vanilla and nutmeg into egg white mixture until combined. Sift a quarter of the flour mixture over the egg white mixture. Gently fold in with 15 under-and-over strokes. Repeat, rotating bowl a quarter of a turn after each addition. After last addition, use 10 to 20 extra folding strokes. Flour mixture should be blended into egg whites. Spread batter into ungreased 9- or 10-inch tube pan. Cut through batter with spatula to release air bubbles. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. Invert pan over neck of bottle; let cool in pan completely. With spatula, carefully loosen cake from pan and remove.
Makes 16 servings. Each serving has 100 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of protein, no fat and 170 milligrams of sodium.