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Discover tasty grains that help you slim down

March 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Heath experts recommend we get about 25 grams of fiber in our day, yet most of us don't get even half that. That's too bad because fiber not only helps fill you up, it can slim you down because you can get by on less. It's time we go beyond whole wheat and look at kamut, spelt, quinoa and more.

First, keep in mind that carbohydrates are usually a side dish, with a proper half-cup serving size, averaging about 100 calories. Along with healthy carbohydrates, grains provide a good source of fiber and protein. Both components help with weight loss, as they take longer for the body to break down, providing a sense of satiety as well.

Quinoa dates back 5,000 years ago and was used by the Incas in South America. You'll find 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber in a cup. Quinoa is a light, nutty tasting gluten-free grain that can be used like rice, but comes in pasta as well.

Wild rice is lower in calories than most other grains. At 83 calories per half cup, it offers 3 grams of fiber and protein to your meal with a chewy consistency that works well in soup or added to brown rice and salads.

Polenta is ground corn that can be made at home or bought premade in forms like polenta rounds. Sliced, then browned, they are terrific topped with tomato sauce and meatless sausage and a snip of herbs like basil or Italian parsley.

Known as farro in Europe, spelt comes from the whole wheat family. This ancient grain also imparts a nutty flavor and is high in B vitamins. While it contains gluten, some who are gluten-sensitive find spelt is tolerated. A slice of this dense, yeast-free bread contains 4 grams of fiber and protein.

If you're a fan of puffed rice cereal, you might get a kick out of kamut cereal. One cup is a mere 50 calories with 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and a nice dose of potassium.

When you consider that traditional white rice and pasta contain similar calorie content, yet offer little in the way of fiber and protein, eating tasty foods full of fiber is a great way to slim down.