We are looking for more ways to get whole grains into our children's diet...without too much whining, if possible...any suggestions?

The best way to start getting kids ready for whole grains is by giving them a say in what they are eating. Begin by sitting down with them and making a grocery list. Have ideas of what whole grain foods are and then start making suggestions and getting input on what your children like. The American Dietetic Association says that a whole grain is the entire grain—which includes the bran, germ and endosperm (starchy part). Examples of whole grains include: popcorn, brown and wild rice, whole oats/oatmeal, whole wheat flour and cracked wheat. Now start to think about menu planning. If your child suggests that he or she likes chicken and rice, make sure you are buying brown rice or if spaghetti is selected for an evening meal make sure you are choosing whole wheat spaghetti. It is true that sometimes kids (and adults) think that they are not going to like the taste of whole wheat spaghetti, so I recommend easing them into it by using half regular and half whole wheat spaghetti and mixing the sauce in right away so there is not a visible difference. After a while, your child will not know he or she is eating whole grain pasta. Begin their day off right by introducing whole grains at breakfast. Mix up a batch of whole oats on a Sunday and heat up throughout the week. Have your kids add dried fruit and a little honey for a healthy breakfast. Take some extra time in the cereal aisle and look for low-sugar, whole grain cereals and give your child a few different boxes to select from.

The next step to introducing whole grains is to plan after school snacks together. Begin by skipping the “snack” aisle in the supermarket and focus on snacks that are both tasty and healthy. Help your kids to make their own low fat/salt microwave popcorn. Try fresh fruit with a yogurt dip or whole grain crackers with hummus. Play games with snacks too. Get out your cookie cutter and make fun shapes with whole grain tortillas and cheese. Make funny faces with whole wheat English muffins and fruit or play around with fruit and cheese skewers.

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