It’s no secret that I love whole grains. They are healthy & delicious, with a wonderful chewy texture and a nuttier, fuller flavor than refined grains. They have tons of nutrients and fiber. And in moderation, they help to round out most meals.

So when I was selected to be a Whole Grain Ambassador for Whole Grains Sampling Day this Wednesday (April 3), I couldn’t have been more excited! I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some fun facts and recipes using whole grains, as well as a brand new (and really awesome) giveaway including over 15 whole grain products.

**But what exactly is a whole grain? **

When grains grow in the fields, they have three edible parts: the outer bran layers which are rich in fiber and B vitamins; the germ – full of antioxidants, and the starchy endosperm. If the bran and germ (the healthiest parts) are removed, the grain is said to be “refined.” Refined grains are missing about 2/3 of many essential nutrients. Those refined grains are then “enriched” – but this only returns about 5 of the missing nutrients. (So when you see “enriched wheat flour” on a food label, that’s refined wheat – not a whole grain).

A whole grain is when all three of these parts: bran, germ and endosperm are present in their original proportion in the grain (which still applies if the whole grain has been ground into flour or rolled into flakes).

**Here are some more fun facts about Whole Grains:**

*Source: www.wholegrainscouncil.org*

- Most whole grains are also gluten-free including: corn, rice, oats (when processed in a gluten-free facility — look for certified gluten-free oats), wild rice, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, sorghum, teff
- Corn has almost twice the antioxidant activity of apples, while wheat and oats almost equal broccoli and spinach in health-protective antioxidant activity
- Refining wheat removes half or more of the wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients – including 78% of it’s fiber
- Eating an average of 2.5 servings of whole grain foods each day can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by almost one quarter
- Japanese soba noodles, Russian kasha, and crepes from Brittany in France all have one thing in common: they are all made with buckwheat
- Brown rice is not the only whole grain rice. Whole grain rice can also be black, purple, red, or any of a variety of exotic hues
- Whole white flour is made from an albino strain of wheat, and has the nutrition of traditional whole wheat flout – but with a lighter color and milder flavor
- Switching from refined grains to whole grains helps acne to “improve dramatically” according to Australian research
- Three servings a day of whole grains cuts blood pressure, reducing stroke risk by 15 – 20%, according to a 2010 study from Scotland
- Sprouting grains increases many grains’ key ingredients, including B vitamins, Vitamin C, folate, and fiber

**I was like a kid in a candy store when I received my whole grain box. **

How awesome does that look? One lucky reader will win the exact same box, courtesy of Whole Grain Sampling Day! This box includes over 15 whole grain products and a free t-shirt – including:

- Evan’s Heavenly Spelt Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Mix from Among Friends Hand Crafted Baking Mixes
- Gluten Free Muesli from Bob’s Red Mill
- Mestemacher Rye Bread with Muesli from Carl Brandt
- Organic Triple Seed Crispbread from Engine 2 Plant Strong
- Whole Grain Freekeh (Fire roasted Young Green Wheat) from Freekehlicious
- Wheat Berry Chili Mix from Frontier Soups
- Goose Valley Natural Products – Brown & Wild Rice Fusion
- Mini Double Chocolate Chip Cookies from Home Free Treats
- Nabisco Original Wheat Thins and Sea Salt/Black Pepper Brown Rice Triscuits
- Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookie Mix from Pamela’s Products
- Sweat and Spicy & Sea Salt flavored rice chips from Real McCoy’s (these are gluten free as well)
- Tasty Bite Garlic Brown Rice
- Upfront Nutty Granola With Pecans and Almonds
- Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips from Simply Sprouted Way Better Snacks

**Now the important part –**

**To Enter:** You can enter in one of five ways (each option below counts as a *separate* entry):

- Subscribe to The Picky Eater via RSS or via email
- Follow me on Twitter (@pickyeaterblog)
- Like The Picky Eater on Facebook
- Follow me on Pinterest
- Sign up for my free, monthly newsletter (it has healthy recipes and tips – no annoying ads plus you’ll get a free healthy meal plan when you sign up!)

**Then post a comment here for each option above that you chose. **

**This giveaway will be open until Sunday, April 14th at 11:59pm PST. **I’ll be selecting the winner at random (via random.org) and will contact them via email. I’ll be announcing the winner in the comments of this post on **Monday, April 15th**.** **

*Disclosure: I received a selection of whole grain products to sample but was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.*

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Hi everyone! I just wanted to let all of you know that Jess C has won this giveaway!! Congrats Jess! 🙂 The folks at the Whole Grain Council will be contacting you soon to coordinate shipping your box of whole grain goodies. Thanks to everyone who entered – stay tuned for another giveaway coming soon!

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