Whole grains and diabetes – Roasted Cherry Tomato, Arugula and Sorghum Salad Recipe

Photo courtesy Bob’s Red Mill

Today marks the end of the Oldways Whole Grains Council’s Whole Grains Month. Over the past few years, the popularity of whole grains has definitely been on the rise. More and more people are appreciating the depths of the taste and flavors of whole grain products. To many, their health benefits are an added perk.

But the list of those health perks just keeps on growing. Whole grains offer an array of defenses against a variety of diseases including diabetes and heart disease and stroke along with certain cancers and obesity.

They also act as prebiotics – stimulating and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut. Your microbiome – that collection of healthy bacteria – is linked to an increasing number of advantages to your well-being. Immune system functioning, emotional health and even weight management are all associated with a healthier microbiome.

The diabetes- whole grain connection may not grab a lot of attention but did you know that, according Diabetes Canada, that one in three Canadians has diabetes or prediabetes. In the US, the figures are even higher with almost one in two people having diabetes or prediabetes.

Prediabetes is where blood sugar levels are elevated but not to a high enough level to be diagnosed with diabetes. Previous research shows that those 20 years of age today face a 50 per cent chance of developing diabetes in their lifetime.

While diabetes affect blood sugar readings, the disease also dramatically increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.

A recent small study looked at the impact of whole versus refined grains on insulin secretion and β-cell function – that part of the pancreas which produces insulin. In the investigation, study subjects with prediabetes consumed either a meal pattern containing whole grains or refined grains for 8 weeks, then what’s called a washout period (no set diet) for 8 – 10 weeks and then either the refined or whole grain regime. Both contained the same number of calories.

The research showed that the whole grain diet improved beta cell functioning. Considering that it’s now being said that diabetes is becoming an epidemic in the Western world, switching to whole grains makes sense.

And for those of you who say that cutting out grains altogether is the best way to decrease the risk of diabetes, research shows that it’s not necessary.

Who doesn’t enjoy these foods?

Variety is the spice of life
Having a varied range of whole grains offers an assortment of health benefits. Some supply soluble fibre providing advantages for both blood cholesterol lowering and blood sugar lowering. Others promote bowel health and regularity while others, yet, deliver phytochemicals that can actually target cholesterol production by the body. The list goes on and on.

If you require a gluten-free diet, there are plenty of options to choose from – quinoa, buckwheat and sorghum to name a few.

Here’s a recipe for sorghum, adapted from Bob’s Red Mill, a company that offers a wide range of whole grain selections. Check out more about how to use sorghum along with its centuries’ old history on the Oldways Whole Grains Council’s website. You can also find more health information and whole grain basics and recipes on the website.

Just a quick tip: For longer cooking whole grains, cook them in batches and freeze the in labelled pre-portioned containers.

Roasted Cherry Tomato, Arugula and Sorghum Salad Recipe

Makes 4 servings

1 cup sorghum grain rinsed in a fine mesh colander
3 cups water

Roasted cherry tomatoes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• sea salt

Lemony dressing
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tbsp lemon juice
• 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
• 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
• 1 clove garlic pressed or minced
• 1/4 cup crumbled feta

Everything else
• 3 cups baby arugula
• freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
• 14 oz can chickpeas rinsed and drained (optional)

First, cook the sorghum: Combine rinsed sorghum and three cups water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the sorghum is pleasantly tender but still has some chew to it, about 55 to 65 minutes. You can wait until the sorghum is halfway cooked before proceeding with the next steps.

To roast the cherry tomatoes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a small, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Toss the whole cherry tomatoes with one tablespoon olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Roast until the tomatoes are soft, plump and starting to burst open, about 18 minutes.

To make the dressing: Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper until emulsified.

Once the sorghum is done cooking: Drain off any excess water and pour the cooked sorghum into a serving bowl. Pour in all of the dressing, all of the cherry tomatoes and their juices, the arugula*, feta, Parmesan and chickpeas (optional). Toss well and serve.

*Storage suggestions: If you won’t be serving all of the salad in one sitting, store the arugula separately from the rest of the salad and mix the arugula into the sorghum salad just when you’re ready to serve. The sorghum salad should keep well, covered and refrigerated with the arugula stored separately, for a couple of days. Serve cold or reheat the sorghum before tossing in the arugula.


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Categories: Recipes, Research Roundup, Whole Foods

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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