Living Well Kids Crew Meet Oatis

Healthy eating can be made fun when learning with the Kids Crew!

Our Kids Crew is here encourage healthier choices and teach children about good nutrition.  Kids Crew is based on MyPlate and each Kids Crew character represents a section of the MyPlate.

For the Grain section of MyPlate, our Kids Crew character is Oatis!

Illustration of Kids Crew character Oatis the horse

Oatis is a soccer player and he represents the Grain food group. His favorite foods are oatmeal and pasta and enjoys how grain foods provide our bodies with energy.

When choosing grains, half of the grains we eat should be whole grains.

Whole grains are those that still contain the full grain, not just the starchy, inner part that is found in refined grains such as white pasta, white bread, white rice, and in most crackers.  Whole grains are less processed and contain higher amounts of fiber, which promotes heart health and gut health.  Many Americans do not consume enough fiber, so whole grains are a great way to enjoy grains and get more fiber.

Examples of whole grains include:  whole wheat breads, pastas, crackers, and tortillas, tortillas made from ground corn (not masa flour), oats, many breakfast cereals, quinoa, brown rice, and popcorn.  While whole wheat is one of the most common whole grains, you can still find other whole grains versions of your favorite grain foods that are made without wheat, if needed, such as those made with amaranth, sorghum, and gluten-free oats.  The only way to know if a product is a true whole grain is to look at the ingredient list.  The first ingredient should be ‘whole’, ‘100% whole’, or the just the grain’s name.  If the first ingredient says ‘enriched’, ‘refined’, or ‘masa’, it is not a whole grain.

While it is healthy to choose whole grains when possible, it is still okay to consume some refined grains.  Refined grains are fortified with vitamins and minerals which increase the nutritional value.  A good rule of thumb is to choose whole grains when eating at home since you can control the ingredients and eat refined grains when dining out, since whole grains are less common at fast-food eateries and restaurants.   When preparing whole grains at home, it can take a while for your family to adjust to the heartier taste and texture.  Try a 1:3 ratio of whole to refined grains and then every few weeks increase the whole grains until you are using all whole grains. Start with 1/3 cup whole grains to 2/3 cup refined, the next week then use 2/3 cup whole grains to 1/3 cup refined.   This tip works well with any recipe using pasta or rice!