The other day someone emailed me to ask, "What is quinoa, and where do I find it?" The person inquiring said she's heard about it and wants to try it, but she couldn't find it in any of the grocery stores in her small town. My suggestion was to log onto Amazon.com. Over the past few years Amazon has amassed not just a wide array of food, but some impressively healthy options.
If you type "quinoa" into Amazon's search box, you'll find golden quinoa, red quinoa, black quinoa, quinoa flakes, and a number of products made with this ancient whole grain, including pasta, flour, hot and cold cereal, and energy bars. And the best part: For many of the items you can view both the ingredients and the nutrition facts, and you don't always have to buy in bulk.
Bob's Red Mill Rolled Barley
Of all the whole grains barley packs the most fiber, and it's rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Natural substances in barley have also been shown to help reduce cholesterol (even more than oats), control blood sugar, and boost immunity by feeding the friendly or "good" bacteria in your digestive tract. I use rolled barley any way you might use rolled oats, as a hot cereal, as an add-in to cold cereal, in yogurt parfaits and smoothies, and toasted on a cookie sheet as a crunchy topping for baked or gilled fruit.
Eden Organic 100 Percent Whole-Grain Rye Spirals
If you like rye bread and rye crackers you'll love rye pasta. And this hearty whole grain may offer a weight-control benefit. Researchers in Sweden found that compared to wheat, rye increased feelings of fullness (for as long as eight hours) and naturally curbed eating later in the day. I love to toss a small scoop of hot rye pasta with cannellini beans and veggies sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and herbs, or chilled in a Mediterranean pasta salad.
Erewhon Organic Corn Flakes Cereal
Corn gets a bad rap as an unhealthy food or one that offers no nutritional value, but organic corn is an important member of the whole grain family. Corn also supplies B vitamins, fiber, minerals and one study found that it packs nearly twice the antioxidant activity of apples. Finally the pigments that give corn kernels their sunny hue are linked to lung and eye protection. Beyond cold cereal, I satisfy my crunch tooth by folding crushed organic corn flakes into melted dark chocolate as a dip for fruit and into almond butter as a schmear for raw veggies.
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.