#3: Healthy Plate Method – Grains & Starches

Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, Jackie Chisholm, gives an amazing description on starchy vegetables and grains. We know carbohydrates are not created equal and she helps us sort that out.
Whole grains and starchy vegetables are great sources of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  But what they are best known for is their carbohydrate and fiber.  The healthy plate method of meal planning recommends that you limit 1/4 of your plate to grains or starchy vegetables.  This is to make sure you leave room for those non-starchy vegetables that should make up half of your plate.  Examples of starchy vegetables include potatoes, corn, peas, winter squash, pumpkin, yams and sweet potatoes. 

The healthy plate method also recommends that at least half of your grains should be whole grains.  Whole grain refers the complete intact grain with none of the nutrients or fiber removed.   

There are two types of fiber that occur naturally in foods.  Both types of fiber are important for overall good health, making it important to choose a variety of fiber-rich whole foods.  Familiar examples of whole grains include 100% whole grain bread, 100% whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and oats. 

Some tips for replacing processed grains with whole grains include:

  1. Choose foods with as few ingredients and as close to their natural states as possible.  
  2. Check the nutrition facts label and ingredient list for the words “whole” or “whole grain.”  
  3. The amount of fiber in whole grain foods vary, so choose those with the most. Aim for at least 3 grams of fiber or more per serving.  
  4.  For grain-based snacks choose air-popped popcorn, and rye or other 100% whole grain crackers. 
  5.  Change up familiar meals by substituting ancient whole grains or seeds in casseroles and grain-based salads, such as pasta salad or rice pilaf.

Tune into our podcast episode on Grains and Starchy Vegetables for more information on how to make your plate a healthier one!