March 23, 2009
Wheat germ reminds me of the 70’s. I have vague memories of walking around natural food stores with my feathered-haired mom as she stocked up on natural peanut butter, shockingly dense bread, and wheat germ. I don’t remember eating wheat germ, though I must have. In fact, I didn’t think of it again until Isaac started eating solids.
Super Baby Food was one of the first resources I turned to while gearing up to feed my hungry 6-month-old. The author, Ruth Yaron, turned me on to wheat germ, which I began adding to our diets when Isaac was around 8-months-old. I haven’t stopped since because, as it turns out, wheat germ packs quite the nutritional punch. So what’s the scoop on wheat germ?
What’s the scoop on wheat germ?
Wheat germ is a part of the wheat kernel that is removed when wheat is processed into refined grain products like white flour. It is the reproductive part that germinates (hence the name) to form wheat grass. Though the germ is only a very small part of the kernel, it is the most nutritious part.
Why is it good for you?
Wheat germ contains an astounding 23 nutrients–that’s more per ounce than any other vegetable or grain! It is also very high in protein, fiber, an excellent source of folic acid, and contains a phytonutrient called L-ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant not destroyed by cooking.
Wheat germ also contains:
Storing wheat germ
Because of it’s unsaturated fat content, wheat germ can go rancid (just like flax seed). Unopened it can last up to a year on shelves. Opened containers should be stored in the fridge, sealed tight, for up to 9 months. You can also freeze wheat germ and (kind of like pine nuts) pull out portions as you need them. If you’re unsure if your wheat germ is good, use your proboscis: it should smell nutty. It you detect a musty odor, it’s no good.
Using wheat germ
Wheat germ is super versatile. With a mild, nutty flavor, it’s easy to add to everything from baked goods to yogurt to meatballs to breading (the last two in lieu of or in addition to breadcrumbs). When adding wheat germ to baked goods or quick breads, simply use it to replace one-half to one cup of the flour. Because wheat germ tends to absorb moisture, you may want to add one to two tablespoons of water for every quarter cup of wheat germ you add to a recipe.
We add wheat germ to our oatmeal every morning. It’s a way for me to make sure that we all get a dose of this good stuff everyday, without having to think about it. In fact, this is so low maintenance that it isn’t so much a recipe (no measurements!) as a delicious combo to kick start your day.
Banana Pecan Oatmeal
(can be adapted for kids 6+ mos)*
flax seed, ground
pecans, finely chopped*
plain whole milk yogurt
agave syrup or honey*
1. Cook oatmeal according to package directions.
2. Mix in everything else! I use small palmfuls of wheat germ, flax seed and chopped pecans, about 2-3 heaping spoonfuls of yogurt, a 1/2 banana, dash of cinnamon and small drizzle of agave or honey per serving.
*Note: There is a lot of disagreement about when it’s safest to introduce tree nuts. Some pediatricians—and I—believe that it is best to introduce nuts to children without a family or personal history of food allergies early on (even before 12 months). Speak to your pediatrician about what’s best for your child and, if you’re not yet feeding tree nuts, simply skip them in this recipe. Also, be sure to avoid honey (use the agave instead) if serving this to children under 12 months.
Tips for Picky Eaters