Friday, March 6, 2009

Five Food Groups Series - Number 2

Breads & Cereals

Prepare for a busy day with a hearty breakfast of homemade muesli and wholegrain toast. Fill up at lunchtime with a toasted pita pocket stuffed with tandoori chicken, bean sprouts and avocado. Or relax in the evening with a welcoming bowl of prawn, saffron and snow pea fettuccini.

Flavoursome, versatile and convenient, breads, cereals, rice, pasta and noodles are the basis of most our meals. Wholemeal grains have, on average more than twice the fibre of white bread -and wholegrains take longer to digest and keep you satisfied for longer. They provide long-lasting energy, are satisfying, and help us keep up with the demands of a busy lifestyle.

Best of all, there's no limit to the range of flavours, varieties and textures on offer. From creamy risotto to crumbly rye bread, you'll find something to suit every occasion.

Why is this group good for me?

Bread, cereal, rice, pasta & noodles are rich in carbohydrates. Wholegrain breads and cereals and all types of pasta provide slow release glucose that keeps us satisfied for longer. Whether you're a new mum, a growing child, or a busy office worker, all of us need carbohydrates for energy supply, to help our bodies function effectively.

Wholegrain and wholemeal breads and cereals are also good sources of fibre - which keeps our digestive system functioning as it should. Wholemeal and wholegrain varieties have a low glycaemic index, which means their carbohydrate is broken down slowly to form glucose and the slow-release of energy from this process helps keep us feeling full for longer.

How many serves a day do I need?

Try to have at least 4 serves every day. An example of a serve could be:

  • 1 cup of cooked pasta, noodles or porridge
  • 1 cup of cooked rice
  • 2 slices of bread or 1 medium bread roll
  • 1/2 cup of natural muesli
  • 1 cup of breakfast cereal

Fresh food tips

There's nothing like an appetising bowl of Italian-style pasta. Lightly fry some button mushrooms in a pan with onion and garlic. Add a dash of white wine, some fresh snipped oregano or thyme or finely chopped rosemary and some tomato puree and pour over freshly boiled veal tortellini. Top with a sprinkle of finely grated parmesan.

Take your tastebuds on an exotic journey with a Vietnamese beef noodle soup. Boil beef stock with lemon juice, star anise, ginger and lemon grass. Place uncooked rice noodles and strips of raw beef into bowls and cover with steaming broth. Top with fresh basil, coriander, lime, chopped chilli and bean sprouts.

Start the day with fruity French toast. Dip a thick slice of raisin bread into a bowl of whisked egg, and lightly fry it on both sides until the egg is cooked. Serve with poached peaches and ricotta cheese.

For a healthy kick-start to the day, make your own homemade muesli with rolled oats, wheatgerm, a little toasted flaked coconut, dried apricots, cashews and linseeds. Serve with slices of banana and fresh yoghurt.

Need a quick and easy dinner for two? Try this simple baked risotto. Throw 1 cup of Arborio rice into a baking dish, and add 1 ½ cups of salt-reduced vegetable stock, a small knob of butter or 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 350g of diced pumpkin. Bake for 30 minutes at 190°C until the rice is soft. Top with grated parmesan and serve.

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