Eight Tips to Choosing More Complex Carbs

If you’ve decided to go no or low carbs this year, you should know that not all carbs are created equal.  Simple carbohydrates- found in white bread, sodas, white rice, pastries, and processed foods- are more quickly digested, can raise blood glucose levels faster and may contribute to weight gain. Complex carbohydrates, on they other hand, are more gradually absorbed. Found in whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, Complex carbohydrates fuel your body for longer periods and they are often a good source of fiber, minerals and vitamins.


Eight Tips to Choosing More Complex Carbs

    1. Cold cereals should include 5 or more grams of fiber per serving. Check the ingredient list to see if whole oats, whole wheat or another whole grain is listed first. Check your favorite cereal brands to see if they meet these two guidelines.
    2. If you are a hot cereal fan- switch from the instant oatmeal in packets which have added sugars, and try a hot bowl of steel-cut oatmeal instead. (Did you know that you can make oatmeal in your slow cooker overnight?)
    3. Switch to whole grains when choosing breads. Don’t just read the name of the bread- make sure that whole wheat or another whole grain is listed first on the ingredient list.
    4. Eat fewer potatoes and choose brown or wild rice, barley, quinoa, millet and bulgur instead. If these grains are unfamiliar to you try websites like allrecipes.com for ideas on how to incorporate these rich, nutty grains into your diet. Or try the recipe below!
    5. Try whole wheat pasta, or pasta made with half whole-wheat and half white flour.
    6. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and remember- juice doesn’t count in those servings!
    7. Eat more legumes. Beans and Lentils- which are also a great source of protein- can be prepared in a variety of ways. Look beyond the standard chili recipes for new ways to incorporate these into your diet.
    8. Snack on small amounts of nuts and seeds– they are higher in fiber and much more filling than a candy bar!



Zesty Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa

2 cups of water

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 limes, juiced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon red pepper- to taste

1 ½ cups halved cherry tomatoes

1 15-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed

5 green onions finely chopped

¼ cup fresh cilantro

Ground pepper to taste

Bring Quinoa and water to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until Quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed (about 10-15 minutes). Set aside to cool

Whisk Olive oil, lime juice, cumin, salt and red pepper together in a bowl

Combine quinoa, tomatoes, black beans and green onions together in a bowl and pour dressing over the quinoa mixture, toss to coat.

Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator. (Great to make a day ahead)


Mary Catherine Cochran works as a Senior Communications Project Manager at Howard County General Hospital: Johns Hopkins Medicine where, among other things, she manages and writes for the Well & Wise blog.




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