Good Grains

By Theresa Albert, Toronto Nutritionist

Most kids are carb crazy and it is hard to know how to be sure they are getting enough of the right kind.  It is safe to say that no kid (or adult for that matter) needs white bread or cookies or snacks made with white flour, lots of sugar and little nutritive value.  But they do need carbohydrates.  The trick is to provide ample options from the most nutrient dense carbohydrates you can find.  That means fruits, vegetables and good grains.

Grains come in their own little protective packages and are best enjoyed this way as often as possible.  Brown rice still holds the fiber, vitamins and minerals that it pulled from the earth, no “fortification” required.  A child whose family regularly eats brown rice will find the white stuff bland and unpalatable.  But a child who has only known the white may need a little retraining.

The trick is to never give up! Trying a few different varieties may make all the difference.  Short grain brown rice is stickier and softer which is more comforting to some palates.  Brown Basmati rice has a nuttier flavor that seems to win over the “chicken fried rice” types.

Even better, sometimes it is better to add rather than trying to make a switch at all!  Quinoa is a grain that originates from the Andes Mountains of South America.  It is gluten free and easily digested and is a great substitute for rice, cous cous or bulgur.  It is the highest protein grain with a nearly ideal amino acid balance (more like an allergen free nut than a grain).  It is also a good source of fibre, calcium, phosphorous, iron and vitamins B and E. Quinoa works well just a well as a breakfast (a la oatmeal) as it does a savory side dish. Best of all, it cooks more quickly than brown rice, in just 10 minutes.

Once it is cooked, quinoa, just like many other great grains is adaptable into any kind of side dish or summer grain salad.  One batch serves a 6-9 month old for lunch, the rest of the house for dinner and an excellent lunch for mom the next day.

Quinoa Creation

3-4 servings

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

Rinse quinoa thoroughly through a sieve.  Add quinoa and water pot and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 8 minutes.  Cover and allow to sit to absorb remaining water.

(Remove any infant portions and allow to cool slightly before serving.)

Big Kids and Parents side dish:

Stir in:

1 clove minced garlic

1 tsp of oregano

1 Tbsp of yogurt

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

To make any leftovers into a salad:

Add cold quinoa to:

2 cups baby spinach

¼ cup cherry tomatoes

¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

Salt and pepper

Drizzle balsamic vinegar


About the Author:

Theresa Albert Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a nutritionist and food communications consultant. Her Food Network show,Just One Bite! aired for 5 years on both Food Network and BBC Kids. She is currently a trusted on-camera correspondent for CTV Newschannel as well as CBC and regular health expert on the daily lifestyle show, Steven and Chris which airs internationally.

Named one of Canada’s Top 25 Tweeters by Today’s Parent Magazine and one of’s 35 Favorite Bloggers, she is called for comment from every major magazine, newspaper and television outlet in Canada. She has a weekly column in the Metro Newspaper and regularly writes features for Today’s Parent, Canadian Family Magazine and blogs at Huffington Post.

Picture of Theresa Albert

Author: Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is an on-camera food and health expert, nutritionist and writer who loves to spread the word on food. She is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. Tweet with her at @theresaalbert & find her daily at

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