Posted on March 11, 2016
I was surprised to discover that today is National Oatmeal-Nut Waffle Day. I mean, Waffle Day, sure – there are special days for all sorts of food, from apples and cinnamon rolls to watermelons and Welsh rarebit.
And I knew that there was already a Waffle Day in March. I dug around, and I found that March 25 is International Waffle Day.
So...what gives with the incredibly specific Oatmeal-Nut Waffle Day?
Today is more about making our favorite foods healthier. Adding whole grain oats and chopped nuts to waffle batter makes our waffles more nutritious (and, many would say, more delicious as well). Subbing in peanut butter, fruit, or yogurt for syrup is another way to make waffles healthier.
Adding or substituting whole grains and nuts into other foods, particularly baked foods, can increase their nutritional value as well. Going easy on the sugar helps as well.
The whole scoop on nuts and whole grains...
They also contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help our hearts; fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and may help prevent diabetes; Vitamin E, which can help prevent plaque in our arteries; plant sterols, which help lower cholesterol; and L-arginine, which make artery walls more flexible.
Most plants start out as seeds, and that includes grain plants like wheat, corn, rye, and rice. Seeds of grain plants are sometimes called kernels, and they are made up of three parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.
All three parts are protected from the outside forces by a husk. You know, outside forces like insects and other pests, diseases, and even water and sunlight.
The three parts of the kernel are all edible. The husk is inedible (it cannot be eaten).
The bran is the outer skin of the edible kernel. The germ is the actual embryo – the part that could sprout into a new plant if the kernel were planted instead of eaten. And the endosperm is the germ's food supply – the part that would provide energy to the embryo as it grows into a sprout.
As you can see in this diagram, the endosperm is the largest part of the kernel, and it has lots of good stuff in it – carbohydrates, proteins, and some vitamins and minerals. But the germ has good stuff, too – proteins, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats – as does the bran – vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
Many of the grains we eat are refined – the bran and the germ are removed. That eliminates about one-quarter of the protein of the whole kernel, and it also reduces other key nutrients. Manufacturers who process grains are able to add back some of the vitamins and minerals that they eliminate, but whole grains are healthier. Whole grains provide more protein, more fiber, and many important vitamins and minerals that are not added back. Check out this graph to see the difference between whole wheat, refined wheat, and “enriched” wheat flour.
Here is a resource to help you find whole-grain products.
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