Daily Archives: October 8, 2009

Nutritional Gatekeeping (White Whole Wheat flour)

Reading my most recent Cooking Light issue, I came across the term “nutritional gatekeeper.”   I’d never heard it before, even though apparently it’s been around for more than 60 years.  Basically, it refers to the person in a community or household who is responsible for selecting most of the food that all the members will eat.  In my household, that’s pretty much me. 

And I’m a narrow gate these days.  My kids think getting 10 m&m’s is  an extravagent dessert (and thus would prefer to chop up a watermelon or gorge on fresh pineapple cubes). One piece of halloween candy per day, maybe 3 on the day of the grabfest itself.  No soda.  No HFCS.  No store-bought cookies, or very few.  Juice is diluted in water, fizzy or otherwise.  Gluey white bread has never entered our home.  Hot dogs have no nitrates or nitrites, ingredient lists are short.   Meat, as organic and free range as the primary grocery shopper (moi) can find,  is a welcome guest a couple of times a week, but is hardly a live-in roommate. 

My kids aren’t suffering. (My husband is a little, but he can always duck out of work for a nice highly processed italian beef sandwich for lunch if he gets the craving.)

The twofold trick of good gatekeeping, as of course we all know, is on the one hand letting the good stuff in and keeping the bad stuff out, but on the other is convincing the troops that the good stuff is as tasty and fun as the stuff we don’t let in.  Enter whole grains.

(By the way, I am not a subscriber to the “whole grain Wonder bread” phenomenon.   I don’t think it counts as whole grain if the grain has been so heavily processed-removed-replaced that it still bears no more resemblance to its original form than its non-whole-grain white glue siblings did.)

white whole wheatLots of you may already know about this, but for those of us who are trying really hard to get some whole grains into our kids diets, and those of us who bake sometimes too, the White Whole Wheat flour made by King Arthur Flour Company is a really handy tool of camouflage.  (As I’ve said before, I don’t really like to use my blog for “product placement,”  but I don’t know of any other company that produces this kind of flour.) It’s actually a different kind of wheat, a hard spring white wheat, as opposed to the more traditional red wheat.  It’s lighter in color and taste than the whole wheat we’re used to, and it behaves a lot more like white flour in recipes.  In things like spice cakes and brownies I often do a 100% substitution for white flour; in bread baking and pancakes and stuff I usually go more half and half, just because it seems to work better.  I can buy this flour at all our local grocery stores, so at least for me it’s not a matter of having to mail-order it…

Oatmeal, oat flour, and oat bran are another really good way to get the whole grains into tasty  things and thus into people.  I’m still experimenting with this, and there aren’t many really easy substitutions to make (although oat flour for some whole wheat would probably work)–oats have a much lower gluten content than wheat and thus will behave very differently in baked goods.  The substitution that does seem to be pretty easy is just throwing a handful of oat bran into practically anything I make.  I have a little bin of it in the cupboard, and it’s become a reflex to just sort of toss it into things.

But if you haven’t tried this white whole wheat stuff, and if your kids show the same suspicion mine do towards any foods that are Brown, because Brown Foods Are Things Mom Makes Us Eat Because They Are Healthy, this might be worth a shot…