Oregon Department of Education
Nutrition Menu  


Increasing Whole Grains in Menus

These are all whole grains: Brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain corn, whole wheat, bulgur, pearl barley, whole oats, wild rice, graham flour, whole rye. Choose foods that name one of these ingredients first on the label's ingredient list. Try these tips for ways to include a variety of whole grains:

  • Make a snack mix with ready-to-eat, whole-grain cereals.
  • Serve whole-grain (whole-wheat or oatmeal) muffins.
  • Use whole-grain bread or cracker crumbs in a meatloaf.
  • Try brown rice stuffing (cooked brown rice, onion, celery, and seasonings)
  • Serve cookies made with some whole-grain flour or oatmeal occasionally.
  • For a change, try brown rice or whole-wheat pasta.
  • Use whole grains in mixed dishes, such as pearl barley in vegetable soup and bulgur in casseroles or salads.

USDA's Center For Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Get on the Grain Train

How do you know if a grain product is a whole grain?

Read the ingredient list on the food label. The words "whole" or "whole grain" should appear before the grain ingredient's name. The whole grain should be the first ingredient listed. Wheat flour, enriched flour, and degerminated cornmeal are not whole grains. Color is not an indication of whole grain. Bread can be brown because of molasses or other ingredients, not necessarily because it contains whole grains. Bread products labeled with the words multi-grain, stone-ground, 100% wheat, cracked wheat, seven-grain, or bran are not whole-grain products unless they specifically state, "100% whole grain".

Adapted from USDA's Center For Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Get on the Grain Train

Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains

Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, corn, barley, rye, buckwheat, or another cereal is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, cornflakes, and rice are all grain products. There are two main types of grain products: whole and refined. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel-the bran, germ, and endosperm. Each of these parts of the grain kernel provides it's own unique nutrient contribution to the whole grain. Examples of whole grains include whole-wheat flour, bulgur wheat, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice. Refined grains have the bran and germ of the grain kernel removed with a resulting loss of important B Vitamins, iron and fiber. Some refined grains have some of the removed nutrients added back and are labeled as "enriched".

USDA's Center For Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Get on the Grain Train

Example Directory

Offer More Whole Grains

To increase fiber and provide important nutrients found in whole grains, serve Spoon-Size Shredded Wheat, corn bran cereal, or oatmeal with fresh berries. Try Wasa crispbread or RyeKrisp as a snack instead of crackers or toast made from white flour. Whole-grain pancakes can be a hit. The younger you start, the quicker preschoolers will develop their tastes in these directions.

Adapted from Alan Greene, MD, FAAP, DrGreene.com

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