Start Your Day with Whole Grains Photo Source: Pamela Allen

Don’t let the heat of the summer months deter your path to a healthy diet. Stay focused and take small steps that can make a difference in your health. Breakfast is an important part of a healthy diet. Most of us struggle with what to have on hand that is quick, healthy and gets us on track for our daily intake of healthy food. Start your day right by eating whole grains.

The two types of grains are whole and refined. Grain products include bread, pasta, cereals, rice, corn, oatmeal and barley. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA MyPlate) recommends that people of all ages get half their grain servings from whole grain sources. How do you determine what is whole grain and what is refined? Read the food’s Nutrition Facts label and know the symbol for whole grains. The “Whole Grain Stamp” is a visual symbol placed on the label that identifies foods approved by the Whole Grains Council. Also look at the list of ingredients and if whole grains are listed first, it is a good source of whole grains. Remember that ingredients are listed from most to least so whole grains should be up in the top part of the ingredient list to be beneficial.

Whole grains provide a good source of fiber and B vitamins. Fiber is the carbohydrate that is non digestible. Fiber keeps our digestive system regular and also can help reduce blood cholesterol. A good goal for women is to consume 25 grams each day while men need 38 grams for their daily intake. For specific recommendations visit . Other sources of fiber include fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, and beans.

So now back to breakfast, the first meal of the day. Making your own cereal can be healthy and nutritious. Start with a whole gran like oats. This is the base for homemade granola and also can be cooked as a hot cereal. Try this homemade granola recipe to have available for a whole grain option for breakfast.

Homemade Granola

2 cups of old fashioned whole grain oats

½ cup sliced almonds or other nut like pecans or walnuts

½ cup shredded coconut

2 Tablespoons of Maple Syrup or honey

1 Tablespoon of melted coconut oil to coat the oats (can be melted in the microwave for 10 seconds)

¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Optional: ½ cup sunflower seeds, ½ cup of dried fruit


Preheat the oven to 300º F.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well and toss to coat.

Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until very lightly toasted. Allow to completely cool before storing.

Granola can be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.

To use as a morning cereal, scoop ¾ cup and cover with Milk. For added flavor and fiber, add fresh fruit like blueberries or strawberries. May also be eaten as a snack or a topping for yogurt sundaes.

For information about upcoming UF IFAS Extension programs in Okaloosa County, visit our website at: email: or call us at 850-689-5850

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