In last week’s podcast I mentioned that another great step to make in your journey toward healthy eating is to make the switch “from white to brown”.
And what, you ask, does it mean to switch “from white to brown”? In three major areas, I would suggest starting to move away from refined, highly processed, nutrient void ingredients…and instead choose unrefined, unprocessed, nutrient filled ingredients. These three major areas would be: Rice, Sugar and Grain.
Yeah, because guess what?! White flour, white sugar and white rice have pretty much NO nutritional value. When we eat them, they fill our bellies…and that’s about it. Our body really can’t do anything with them since the nutrients have been stripped out of them…which is why they are called “empty calories”. In fact, because our bodies crave nutrients in order to function properly, these “white ingredients” can also be “negative calories” – as in the nutrients stored as reserves in our bodies are then sucked out to help our body function, leaving our reserves depleted. And then what often happens with the white stuff? It turns to fat. Well, no wonder. It’s bored and has nothing else to do.
In addition, once our bodies are depleted of nutrients, we are much more likely to get sick. Did I mention that eating these nutrient void ingredients can even cause depression? OUR BODIES NEED NUTRIENTS!!!
Now that I’ve made this suggestion…I am also going to reassure you that it really is okay to take one step at a time as you start replacing white ingredients with brown ingredients in your kitchen. This switch “from white to brown” takes a little effort. It may take a while to adjust your family’s taste buds. You also may find that it adds a little more expense. (Remember though that you are investing in REAL whole food – an investment in your health and the health of your family that is well worth the cost and effort!)
But I believe in the end, you will LOVE making this switch.
Want to know a little secret? Brown ingredients actually have flavor!! It’s amazing what nutrients will do to food – it makes them taste good!! Go figure. :)
Here are some tips to help you transition “from white to brown”:
- Make the switch gradually. You can make a mixture of white rice and brown rice to help get your family used to it. You can do the same with white flour and whole wheat…white sugar and sucanat. Mix it up a bit…literally.
- Read through the suggestions about the sugars I recommend here. There are several different “healthy sugars” that make fantastic treats!
- Try to find whole wheat flour made from hard (or soft) WHITE wheat. White wheat is a variety of grain that has the same nutrition as red wheat…but white wheat makes a lighter, fluffier flour that is not as hard to get accustomed to. We love hard white wheat at our house. And…I know I’m telling you to switch from white to brown and white wheat is white…but really…white wheat makes brown flour. Really it does. :)
- Cook your brown rice in chicken broth to make it taste awesome – yum! (I’ll try to post a tutorial on how to easily cook brown rice sometime soon.)
- Whole wheat pasta really is tasty! Our favorite whole wheat spaghetti is bionaturae. This brand works great for my Creamy Mac and Cheese recipe!
I’d love for all of you to pipe in and share your tricks for making the switch from white to brown! What works for you and your family? What have been some of your biggest challenges in making the switch?
We’ve been working on this the past year! We finally have most of it switched over, but we’re having trouble liking whole wheat pasta. Is regular pasta basically made of white flour? It confuses me since it says semolina flour, I’m sure its pretty processed though? I got something by Barilla today that was 51% whole grains so maybe that will help us switch.
Yeah, the semolina is pretty much just processed white flour, just a different variety of flour. I like your idea of using the Barilla 51% whole grain…I bet that will be a helpful way to transition!
Try making your own pasta from white wheat. I never liked the whole
wheat boxed pastas but decided to try making whole wheat pasta from
scratch (its just flour, eggs and salt). It is yummier than white
pasta! You can freeze it or cook it right away. You can roll it by hand
to see how you like it first but a $30 roller/cutter is well worth it.
I just got the book Nourishing Traditions and it seems totally impossible. Are you familiar with this book?
Yes, I have learned a LOT from Nourishing Traditions, but you’re right…it is very overwhelming. And some of the suggestions they make don’t sound very doable to me (like the eat raw meat part!!). What I really like about the book is how much information is in the front – it really helped me understand that we need nourishment and helped me understand what to eliminate in our diets. But yeah, I have to take that book in small chunks or I just feel overwhelmed.
And Bionaturae spaghetti is currently 15% off with Azure Standard!
The switch is actually much easier than I had thought it would be. Even using the red wheat flour commonly found in our grocery store (*ahem* – WAL-MART) I have been able to switch everything from cookies to my own tortillas. I have soft white wheat on order with Azure so I can start making “fluffier flour” with my new NutriMill, but in the meantime, I discovered that if I pulse plain ‘ol oatmeal (that I buy at the grocery store) in a blender or food processor, I use it with the w.w. flour (usually 1/3 oat flour and 2/3 w.w. flour) to make it lighter, a little less “wheaty” tasting, and still be a whole food I don’t have to special order. The super gluten in the red wheat flour has been able to hold the oat flour together pretty well. I use this only in baked goods using soda/powder as a leavening – yeast is w.w. all the way!
Sugar – oh man! You’ve been missing out! It has added a whole new dimension to my baked good’s flavor and it has such a pretty smell – hehe:-)
Thank you, Laura, for encouraging us along the way!
I have found that in baked goods (cookies, muffins, cakes, etc), I can use all whole wheat and my family can hardly tell. For bread, they prefer half white half whole wheat. But, tortillas are still all white for my family. I figure that at least they are homemade with 4 ingredients instead of store bought with a long list. Switching from white sugar to sucanat or honey has been the easiest healthier change I made.
When I saw the title and thought of the recent season change, I thought this post was going to be about shoes or pants =). We happily use white whole wheat for most of our flour needs (we use some kamut and spelt on occasion). When a recipe calls for regular white flour, I just sub the www and try it. Most of the time it works pretty well, sometimes I make minor adjustments on amounts.
On a side note, the blinking ad to the side of your post is for Amazing Glazes from Duncan Hines. Really, is that a product you recommend? I don’t know anything about the product and couldn’t find an ingredient/nutrition list online at a quick glance, but in general ‘Duncan Hines’ ‘decadent’ & ‘in minutes’ are not something you find in NT. :lol:
Oh LOVELY. I’d not seen that before – those ads are a little bit out of my control. If it keeps flashing that one though, I may have to yank it off! Thanks for letting me know. It’s as if it is mocking me!! :)
Yvonna in Missouri says
I fixed spaghetti the other night for supper and instead of all 9 ozs. reg. thin spaghetti I used 5 reg and 4 whole wheat. I really couldn’t tell but DH said he could. Boys didn’t say anything and I wasn’t going to tell them. I ate half as much as I normally do and felt full and content. Is that good? I am a newbie and changing now while boys are young(8&9). When I make homemade bread I want to try to use about half-n-half, noticed by boys right a way. DH loves whole wheat bread. Do you grind your own flour and does your DH and family appreciate your efforts? Help from those who have taken this path will be helpful. There is a saying…those who pray together stay together. So I believe it should be the same for…those who bake together will partake together :D Mom always said a way to a mans heart is through his stomache…thats the truth. Where is the best places to shop, we have 2 little grocery stores and a Wally-World(Wal-Mart). Thanks in advance for help and blessing’s
To answer many of your questions, read through the “Healthy Eating” sections you’ll find here: https://www.heavenlyhomemakers.com/catagories
Yes, we do grind our own flour – LOVE it! https://www.heavenlyhomemakers.com/category/grains-and-grain-mills
I like your bake and partake saying – makes a lot of sense!!
Yes, whole grain products are going to fill you faster, so while you’re spending a little more, you’re eating a little less, which might just make up for the cost!
My family and especially my husband appreciates my efforts every much. BUT it did take our kids a while to get on board with it. Keep trying with them…it’ll happen!
Yvonna in Missouri says
Can I purchase a Nutra Mill for less than the $239.99?
I think DH will not like price.
I haven’t seen them for less than that anywhere. I do understand the hesitation with the high price tag. I sold baked goods at our local farmer’s market one year to save up for one! We’ve found it has saved us a bunch of money and has paid for itself in just about a year’s time!
So, what about store bought brands of these brown products? (Minute brown rice, Ronzoni/Barilla whole wheat pasta, Gold Whole wheat flour). Are those still considered processed? Would they be better than their white counterparts?
I think these products are great places to start when you make the transition. But if you can, I’d start looking into other options because I’ve found that organic versions of these products TRULY do taste so much better!!
This is such good advice. When my family was making the switch some years ago, we tried buying whole wheat flour from the grocery store and hated it! I can still remember the musty, pungent flavor. Once we tried FRESH, whole wheat flour it was so much easier! :) Now I prefer whole wheat breads, brown rice, and hardly even notice the flavor of sucanat or honey in baked goods.
In our family we have gone mostly brown. Our bread has 1c of white flour in it instead of the vital gluten. But our other baked goods are whole wheat. I still mix our pasta 50/50 but once the white pasta has run out (we have a ton because we stock up on things) we will only do brown.
One time Dh complained about the ww pasta, so the next meal I mad spaghetti squash! HA! The next week he asked for the ww past!
We have yet to switch our sugar, but I’ve found that you can use 1/3 less sugar and the recipe still turns out well. But sugar is our next step.
We actually made the switch to brown/wild rice before we even began our healthy eating journey. I needed it for a recipe and we discovered that rice actually had a taste! We never used white rice since. I do buy it occasionally but that is for making rice warmers!
Is there a nutritional difference between regular brown rice and instant brown rice?
You know…I’ve not looked into that. I just order organic brown rice in bulk…I’m not sure there’s an organic instant brown rice, or is there? I would imagine that apart from being non-organic, the instant brown would have the same nutritional value. It’s just partially cooked, right?
I don’t know, I’ve never looked for organic brown rice… I just
buy regular instant brown rice, but have always wondered if there
was less nutrients in it. I just know it’s really fast which is
helpful on the days I have to work and we’re all hungry!
Yes, yes and yes! :) We’ve successfully made the switch this year…at least 98% Still working on bread being 100%. You’re right about the chicken broth in the rice. Skeptical hubby loves it! And I am a huge fan of sucanat! We use that for almost everything. I bought 50 lbs. from bread beckers at a good price. Love it in my coffee……I know….coffee….still working on that switch.
Have you used the sucanat in canning? (i.e. sweet pickles)
Yep – works great! https://www.heavenlyhomemakers.com/how-to-make-sweet-pickle-relish-the-healthier-way
I’ve been transitioning this switch for the last couple of years. I felt like we were doing a good thing. But I’ve read so much lately about how our bodies can’t handle the whole grains and that whole wheat interferes with mineral absorption in our bodies…things like that. All of this leaves me frustrated. I do not feel right now like I have the time or mental energy to get into all of the soaking that is recommended. So I’m confused as to what I should do. Would really appreciate your feedback on this. I like your more realistic approach to all of this stuff as opposed to some of the real food blogs I read.
Yep, the whole soaking vs. not soaking vs. not eating grains at all is a huge issue out there and a frustrating one. You can read more discussion about it here: https://www.heavenlyhomemakers.com/soaking-those-grainswhat-is-that-about
And here: https://www.heavenlyhomemakers.com/is-agave-nectar-good-for-you-should-i-soak-my-grains-a-bit-of-controversy
And here about the conclusions I’ve drawn…
So, I’ve landed in the middle. :) I soak some and I don’t soak some. I try not to be overwhelmed with it anymore and just do the best I can!
Oh and also, I would love to see the brown rice tutorial! I’ve tried cooking it a couple of times and just end up with a mushy disaster!
We are brown all the way except for rice. I just can’t eat my traditional chinese and korean dishes on brown rice, it does not taste good! believe me I have tried many times, but it never goes over well. So we eat white rice and whole wheat everything else. I figure if entire nations live on white rice we can eat it every now and then. :)
We’ve switched to brown over the last year or so. When I first tried brown rice I burned it every time! I was so frustrated. Then I saw a tip on cooking it more like pasta. Boil 1 cup rice in 4 cups water for 30 min. Drain water and put rice back in pot-not on heat-and cover with a tight fitting lid. Let steam for 10 min. This has been perfect every time.
Thanks for the tip!
I am gradually trying to work wheat flour into my baking, but am hitting a brick wall with brown rice. The other problem I have is that I am cooking for two Type 2 diabetics. We use Splenda in our tea and I use the Splenda for Baking and Splenda Brown Sugar for Baking in my baked goods. I am very interested in trying Sucanat, but I wonder how it will effect their blood sugar levels. I have also thought about trying Stevia, which I heard is actually used in some contries to help lower blood sugar. Does anyone have any experience with Stevia?
According to The Wholesome Sweeteners site: “[Sucanat] is an excellent source of iron, calcium, vitamin B6, potassium and chromium, which helps balance blood sugar.” http://www.wholesomesweeteners.com/brands/Wholesome_Sweeteners/Fair_Trade_Certified_Organic_Sucanat.html
It is still sugar though, so I’d use it with caution. I’d stay away from Splenda as it isn’t a natural sugar, but a sugar substitute.
Regarding Stevia – it is fine for diabetics and does not raise blood sugar levels so it is a good choice – but our family has had a harder time getting used to the taste. It’s a little bitter. We like it fine in smoothies though!
Yvonna in Missouri says
For the cost of a 25 lb bag @ Wal-Mart(which I’m totally surprised they carry) is $13.24 w/o tax. Does this sound about right around .53 per lb(rounded up) for cost?
I’m assuming you’re talking about wheat berries? If so, then yes, that is a good price. I do get it cheaper through my food coop or through a friend who buys it a truck load at a time, but I’ve bought it at Walmart before and it is still a great price!
Yvonna in Missouri says
The gentleman said there was 2 bags.One said wheat berries for $12
something,the other was the white wheat.Which do you use? By the
way DH and I did found that Paula’s also has a very nice dehydrator
for $119.99(great for deer jerky and making applesauce roll-ups).
It’s on sale save $20 and save $30 on NutraMill.No tax because we
are in different state and free shipping yeah!I’ll wait for Christmas
and birthday only 5 days apart…just maybe,I can dream.:D
Yay! Paula’s is a great place to purchase! We use hard white – LOVE it! It tastes a lot better and bakes up a lot nicer (in our opinion) than hard red wheat.
Yvonna in Missouri says
Thank you so much for all your help!
We have mostly switched eveything to brown with not to many problems. The last thing I’m having a serious problem with is our/my sweet tea. I’m a true southern girl and I like my sweet tea! I want to switch, but I’m afraid nothing is going to compare w/ the white sugar.
Yvonna in Missouri says
Oh how I love my brewed sweet tea. Made just like Grandma Pearls.
We’ve slowly been changing from white to brown. My DH was resistant at first, but when I started mixing ww and white flour for baking and he liked the results, it made things easier. The rice was tricky as he is from India and loves his rice. But we found a sweet brown rice (stickier than regular grain), which I mixed with the white. At one point we ran out of the white leaving only the brown and he LIKED it. Yeah!! The sugar change is going slowly, but hopefully we will get this change too. Thank you for all of your encouragement and help in these areas.
During the first bread baking session I attended at a home school conference, the teacher used the expression, “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’re dead.” I think if a person just starts grinding grain for homemade breads, you’re 100% better off. I like brown rice, but my family still prefers white. I’ve also used whole wheat spaghetti and quinoa macaroni, which my family eats without complaining. (Even if they complained, they’d still eat it.) With me, complaining about food is unacceptable. Oh, brown rice takes longer to cook, and needs additional water, but that’s the only difference I’ve seen. The texture is firmer than white.