Red or White Wheat?
I’ve been saying a lot about whole wheat, but I don’t actually force it on my kids if I can help it. What I like to do is simply sneak it into things. Whole wheat can be an acquired taste that develops into a preference after awhile. However, there are still things I prefer to eat that are made with villanous old white flour, and my kids have an even longer list of white-flour favorites. For clarification purposes, I’ll point out that white flour is refined — a process that removes the bran, germ, and most of the nutrients and fiber. Flour made from whole white wheat is not a refined flour, and retains all of the benefits of the whole grain. In short, it is identical to whole red wheat flour.
Something that helps in introducing kids to whole wheat flour is the wheat variety. Two of the standards are hard red wheat and hard white wheat. I took a couple of photos illustrating some of the differences:
Back in the day (in my childhood, anyway) white wheat was too soft for good storage, and had a lower protein content. Advances in agriculture have brought us today’s version. Still, there are those who find the pale kernels a sacrilege. As my sister-in-law proclaimed one day, “I just like a good brown bread”!
Which brings us back to being sneaky. If you have kids who don’t like brown bread….or noodles or pancakes, or anything else that color, go for the white wheat! It is harder to detect not just because of color, but because of an actual difference in texture and flavor. It really helps!
Lastly, remember that good health is a state of mind as well as body. Let me illustrate that point with a favorite family story. Before I discovered white wheat I had gone through a phase where I made EVERYTHING with whole wheat flour, including cookies. (Ah yes, I was going to have those little bodies just glowing with health!) The kids were starting to grow weary of it. One afternoon my son walked into the kitchen and pulled open the oven to see what was for dinner. He saw tator tots sizzling away on a cookie sheet, but noticed they were darker than usual (I had bought a different brand). He closed the oven in exasperation, and turned to me with a note of desperation in his voice, “Are you kidding me, Mom? Now we have to eat whole wheat tator tots?!” (Just disregard the apparent contradiction of a supposedly health-conscious mom fixing tator tots for dinner!)
Treats (including refined flour products, and the occasional tator tot) are awesome…..in moderation. Our goal is healthy and happy kids! Let them enjoy occasional goodies without a guilt trip or fear that their organ systems will shut down because they ate a twinkie. Aim for whole grains as much as possible, but don’t be heavy handed.
In addition, don’t underestimate the power of positive persuasion. For instance, as we sit at the table consuming healthy food (i.e.vegetables from our garden, or whole wheat noodles) I will often grin and gush profusely, saying things like, “Oh my goodness, can you just FEEL those vitamins seeping into your cells?…..etc. etc.. Everyone just rolls their eyes, but don’t tell me the message isn’t being internalized on some level! I say it is!!