Each month the Whole Grains Council spotlights a different grain. The first Thursday of every month we will be featuring this grain on the blog. These blog posts will include fun facts, nutritional information and health benefits, and storage and cooking tips about the grain.
July’s Grain of the Month is wheat. Wheat is perhaps one of the most well-known grains in the world. In fact, according to the Whole Grains Council, “wheat accounts for two-thirds of all grains consumed within the United States”. Most of the wheat we eat is refined or enriched, but we want to share the details about wheat in it’s whole grain form.
• The state of Kansas is the largest wheat producer in America, with North Dakota coming in at a close second.
• An acre of Kansas wheat produces enough bread to feed 9,000 people for one day.
• One bushel of wheat contains roughly one million individual kernels.
• Not everything made from wheat is actually edible. Products that contain wheat include particle board used in kitchen cabinets, paper, hair conditioner, and adhesive on postage stamps.
• Wheat was first planted in the United States in 1777 as a “hobby crop”.
• Wheat is the primary grain used in the United States.
• Wheat is grown in 42 states in the U.S.
• One acre of wheat yields around 40 bushels of wheat. One bushel of wheat weighs approximately 60 pounds.
Nutritional Information and Health Benefits
Wheat is the most common grain used in food products such as breads, pastas, and cereals in the United States. When consumed in the whole grain form, whole wheat can provide many health benefits and important nutrients, including:
• A high amount of dietary fiber. This fiber prevents constipation, lowers blood cholesterol and can even help you lose weight.
• A lower glycemic index. This means your blood sugar won’t spike and crash when you consume whole wheat. Whole wheat will also keep you satisfied for longer after a meal.
• More nutrients than white flours. Whole wheat flour contains Folate, Riboflavin and Vitamins B1, B3 and B5.
• Reducing the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
• Maintaining weight and controlling obesity.
• Increasing energy and improving metabolism.
In order to incorporate more whole wheat into your diet, it’s important to know how to use it properly. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you start baking/cooking with whole wheat.
• Whole wheat flour can be used as a substitute for all-purpose flour in cookies, pancakes, muffins and quick breads. No other adjustments are necessary.
• Yeast breads that need to rise can have half of the all-purpose flour substituted with whole wheat flour. For 100% whole wheat bread, 2 extra teaspoons of liquid must be added per cup of whole wheat flour.
• Start by working with 50% whole grain in baked goods until you are more comfortable with how the flour works and tastes.
• Fresh whole wheat flour works the best for baking, as old flour can develop strange odors or tastes over time. The Nutrimill grain mills are perfect for grinding fresh whole wheat flour.
• Overmixing dough or batter isn’t a problem when you bake with whole grain flour, because baked goods are still able to expand even if they are overmixed.
As with any perishable product, there are certain storage tips that must be followed to help extend the shelf life for a longer period of time. These tips will help you store whole wheat flour properly to maintain the best quality.
• Intact whole wheat stores better before it is ground into flour. If stored in airtight containers, wheat can be stored for up to 6 months in a cool, dry place or up to one year in the freezer.
• If storing wheat in its flour form, it will remain at its best quality for 1 to 3 months at room temperature. The shelf life of whole wheat flour can be extended if it is stored in the refrigerator or freezer. The flour can be stored for 3 months in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.
• Any whole wheat flour that develops a strange odor, flavor or appearance should be thrown out.
Now that you know about the basics of whole wheat, you can start incorporating it into your daily routine.
Remember to keep an eye out for the August Grain of the Month!