Mini-Pledge Week 7: 100% Whole Grain

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If you’ve been following along you knew this one was coming. I’ve been trying to ease everyone into the “real foodmini-pledges by holding off on the harder ones, but the time has come! Even though this next pledge might be a bit challenging for some I am really excited about the learning opportunities that it will bring. In my opinion whole grains are one of the most confusing and hard-to-find food products in the supermarket. From misleading buzz words like “multi-grain” and “wheat” to health-claims on the front of food packages that aren’t backed up by the ingredient list, it sure is treacherous out there.

So here is next week’s mini-pledge that officially starts on Monday:

Mini-Pledge Week 7: April 25 – May 1 – All grains consumed must be 100% whole-grain.

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First of all, let’s discuss why we should even care about eating whole-grains in the first place. For the most part all grains (wheat, corn, barley, rice, etc.) consist of 3 parts: the bran, germ and endosperm. The bran and especially the germ are where you’ll find most of the grain’s nutritional value. When a grain is highly refined into a product like white flour or white rice both of the most nutritional parts are removed leaving you with only the endosperm. According to Michael Pollan the germ contributes “some of the most valuable nutrients to the flour, including much of its protein, folic acid, and other B vitamins”, and the endosperm is basically a “big packet of starch and protein” that is high in calories and low in nutrients (similar to sugar).

So to make up for the loss of the nutrition-rich bran and germ, refined grains are often “enriched” or “fortified” with the vitamins that are thought to be lost. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather just eat the vitamins and nutrients that nature intended for me to eat rather than some copycat concoction that food scientists invented in a lab somewhere…not that nature could successfully be copied in the first place. Plus studies have shown that those who eat the real thing experience many more health benefits over eating the “enriched” version, no matter how nutritious they may appear by looking at the package’s nutrient list.

Some may be wondering why products like white flour were ever manufactured in the first place if the whole-grain version is far superior. First of all, when the key nutrients are stripped away from the flour it ends up having a much longer shelf life. Bugs are also after those nutrients, therefore they don’t have as much interest in the refined grains. And unlike the whole-wheat version, white flour does not have to be refrigerated to prevent it from going rancid. So yes, if you weren’t already aware you must keep your nutrient-dense whole-wheat flour in the fridge or freezer!

Here are some tips, recipes, and resources to help you find and eat whole-grain food products during the “real food” mini-pledge next week:


  • If the front of a food package says it contains “whole-grains” or “whole-wheat” don’t be fooled…always verify by reading the ingredient label to see what a product is really made of. Packages often advertise that a product contains whole-grains even if it is only 20% whole-grain.
  • If the ingredient list on a product contains any portion of “wheat” or “rice” then it is not 100% whole-grain. White flour is still technically made from the wheat plant (a refined version) so it is often labeled as “wheat.” It must say something like “whole-wheat” or “brown rice” to be a whole grain ingredient.
  • Whether you are shopping at a supermarket or eating at a restaurant, most food products that are labeled as whole-grain are rarely 100% whole-grain. They often contain some percentage of refined grains as well.
  • Since it is so hard to find 100% whole-grain foods it is best to avoid grains all together when you are out to eat at a restaurant (unless you can see the ingredient list yourself). Servers and other restaurant employees are often misinformed and will tell you the bread is “100% whole grain” when it is not.
  • If a product is labeled as “multi-grain” it by no means guarantees those grains are whole-grains. It could be a bunch of different refined grains mixed together. Again, you must read the ingredient list to know for sure what’s in a food product.
  • Finding good 100% whole-wheat sandwich bread is one of the biggest whole-grain challenges of them all. Some stores (like Earth Fare) bring in freshly made bread products from a local bakery. Other stores have a few decent options in their freezer section. Your best bet is to find a local bakery that makes their dough fresh daily (unlike grocery store bakeries that typically bake pre-mixed dough) or make it yourself!

100% Whole-Grain Recipes and Meal Ideas (for a complete list visit the “Recipes & Resources” tab)






To take the pledge: Please leave a comment below with the number of adults and kids in your household that will participate, and also share if you will do it for one meal, one day, or for the entire week. Put it in writing and make it official!

Good luck!


[Entered into Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday]


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66 comments to Mini-Pledge Week 7: 100% Whole Grain

  • Meghan

    I’m new to the blog and absolutely loving it so thank you so much! If you’ve addressed this previously I apologize but I want to be sure I’ve got this right. If the grain is quick cooking is it still an okay part of the plan? For example, pearled barley?

    Thanks again for this awesome blog. I’m a firm believer in clean and healthy eating and you’ve provided so many great resources to help keep us on track!

  • Jamie

    Hi Lisa, quick question about using whole grain flour: if a recipe ask for regular white flour, is it usually safe to substitute whole grain, or even white whole wheat, without compromising taste, texture, etc? Thanks so much!

  • Kristin

    What are your thoughts on eating puffed whole grains? I know Sally Fallon is against it. However, I saw puffed whole grain cereal and brown rice cakes on your supermarket cheat sheet, which makes me think you are ok with it. Also, do you have a store bought soft wheat cracker to recommend. My 2 1/2 only has 4 molars, none of which match up, so she has difficulty chewing things like triscuits, wasa, ak-mak, your crispy cheese crackers, etc.

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      We are okay with puffed whole grains. Also I think the puffed rice cereal you mentioned would actually be good (and soft) for a toddler!

  • Megan

    i’m starting this today. i emailed the bakery down the street for the ingredients to their “whole grain health bread.” let’s hope it works… because i love it!

  • Meloney

    I think it’s funny that I’m 2 day away from being exactly a yer behind you! We (2 adults and 1 child) will be purchasing 100 whole grains for now on.

  • [...] for Hailey and I.  Adding more whole grains to our daily food intake is important to me.  This post did a great job explaining whole [...]

  • Diana Harris

    You state that flour has to be refrigerated to keep it from going rancid. How long can you keep it in the fridge before it goes bad? Also, I thought a large priority of the nutrients were oxidized within 72 even if refrigerated. Could you please clarify this for me.
    BTW, my information comes from

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Diana. I know I’ve had my flour in the freezer a month or so, but, I’m not sure past that as my bag is usually gone by then. I’m sorry I don’t have any info on the nutrients being oxidized within the first 72 hours. Jill

  • sara

    I am wanting to know if Ezekiel Bread is ok to eat? I live overseas and my local commissary doesn’t carry any whole-grain bread, but they do carry Ezekiel and by the ingredients I think i’m ok, but it says Organic Sprouted Wheat so i didn’t know if that was considered whole grain.

  • Kat

    Husband and I did this pledge this week. He did sneak ONE donut from a local, real foods cafe.

  • [...] first, the easy stuff. Last week was our 100% whole grains only week and it was interesting. Really challenging, but something we’re going to try to keep up. I [...]

  • Nicole

    Husband and I are doing this week over. We cheated big time since we moved and didn’t have access to all the things we needed. So we are started fresh.

  • Sarah

    Is pasta with spelt bread ok to eat? Apparently it is a non-wheat substitute that is similar to wheat but I’m not sure if it counts as real food.

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Sarah. Spelt is a whole grain. However, the most important description item that you should see on a label of pasta or bread is 100% whole grain. ~Amy

  • Abi Amato

    I have been doing a lot of research lately on whole grains, specifically whole wheat. There appears to be very conflicting views about whether we should be consuming wheat at all. I have always fed my family whole wheat bread and have since moved to strictly whole wheat pasta and brown rice but now I feel like I should be moving in the gluten free direction because of all that I have read. What is your view?

    • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Abi. The Leakes strongly believe that whole grains, including whole wheat, are an essential part of a balanced real food diet. If you are sensitive to gluten you should avoid it or figure out what forms you can tolerate. Some gluten sensitive people can handle spelt or sprouted grain better. If you go the gluten free route, it is important to seek out WHOLE grains which are gluten free (millet, gf oats, buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, etc.) not the refined ones (white rice, tapioca, potato, etc.). ~Amy

  • Rebecca

    Wow, I can not believe that I am still going strong and have made it to week 7! Last week I had a slip up with the fat free. It was an honest mistake, I was eating some pretzels while dealing with a very sick toddler, when I glanced down and read “fat-free”. I stopped eating them, but still felt defeated! Both with the food and my baby. I guess we all make mistakes….
    I feel ready to start a new challenge! I also am feeling better and better each week that we add or remove food options till we are totally eating real food. I love whole grains. I did find it interesting that I have to refrigerate my flour, thank-you for the insight!!
    We will be taking on this challenge for the whole week. We have 2 adults and a toddler.

  • [...] white flour (usually labeled as enriched “wheat” flour), white rice, corn meal, etc. When grains are refined the most nutritional part of the grain (the bran and germ) is removed. This prolongs shelf life [...]

  • ysa hammond

    a note about whole grains and gluten free.. from the research i’ve done, most of the gluten free grain flours are whole grain. The major exception would be using white rice flour instead of brown rice flour, which is recommended if you’re eating rice flour several times a week because of the findings about arsenic in rice. the arsenic is concentrated in the outer hull, which is removed when white rice is refined. Nothing is simple.

  • Kristen

    I’ll be doing this mini-challenge this week…it IS Christmas week so there will likely be limited choices that one day. However, it’s only one day out of six, so I’m going for it anyway. One adult :)

  • [...] Week 7: 100% Whole grain – All grains consumed must be 100% whole-grain. [...]

  • Erica

    What about the pepperidge farms 100% natural 100% whole wheat bread?

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