EAT-Lancet Planet Health Diet Challenge Post #2: We need to talk about whole grains

We need to talk about whole grains. They’re the core of the EAT-Lancet diet to save the planet. While EAT-Lancet suggests a weight range (generally from zero to some certain number of grams) to aim for in terms of your daily consumption of fruits, veggies, meat, etc, for grains they just say 232 grams (or 810 kcal worth). No more, no less.

There are a few things that need to be unpacked here. The first is, what do they mean by 232 grams of whole grains? Is that 232 of cooked grains? dried, uncooked grains? or what? They are unhelpfully unclear about this.

But there are answers to everything on the internet. Riding to the rescue in this case is the US Department of Agriculture, which hosts a handy dandy website (your tax dollars at work!) which, if you are patient enough to wade through the results coughed up by its lousy search engine, has nutritional info on everything.

If you manage to get to the entry for “Cereals, oats, regular and quick, not fortified, dry” and adjust the serving size, you find that 232 grams has 879 kcal. Likewise, if you manage to find an entry for “Rice, brown, medium-grain, raw” you find that 232 grams contains 840 kcal. Those numbers are all pretty close to 810, whereas “Rice, brown, medium-grain, cooked” yields 260 kcal per 232 g, so for me this means that the EAT-Lancet people have given us the dry, uncooked weight for the amount of whole grains we should be eating every day.

Multiply that by 7 days and 2 people and you get 3.25 kilos dry weight of whole grains that the other half and I are supposed to be eating each week. Or 11,340 kcal of whole grains.


Uncooked grains + bread that ends up looking something like this:

grains week one

That’s 500 g of brown basmati rice, 500 g of rolled oats, 500 g of unrolled oats, 250 grams of buckwheat groats, about 100 grams of quinoa, a big can of corn, and 1.5 kg of rye-wheat bread.


Nope. This is not going to happen. Not in one week.

What this week (we are at the end of day 5 of Week 1 right now) has taught me is that spouse eats 1.75 kg of rye-wheat bread per week, or about 4200 kcal. That means he only needs to add 1500 kcal more whole grain to his week, or roughly 430 grams of dry grains, and I’m pretty sure he managed it, given all the brown rice, buckwheat, corn, and oats that were going on at dinnertime.

But I didn’t eat any bread because a few years ago I developed a bang on trend and irritatingly inconvenient allergy to wheat (and spelt, emmer, and einkorn, etc), rye, triticale, and barley. So I’ve got to plow through the entire 1.6 kg of dry grain as “not bread” each week.

Anyway, between the two of us, that totals to 2kg of “not bread” dry grain each week. So what’s in the picture is just about right. But I did not come anywhere close to holding up my end of things. Judging from the last 5 days, by the end of 7 days, I’ll have only eaten through 800 g, or, ARGH, half of the target total.

But, honestly, there is just no way I’ll ever hit 1.6 kg. That’s simply way too much food!

But as long as we are talking about whole grains, tonight I cooked something new to us for dinner: a one pan farro made with whole oat groats instead of farro (which, depending on which kind you buy, is either einkorn, emmer, or spelt, all of which are types of wheat). It was a hit!

There’s tons of one pan farro recipes on the internet. I used Smitten Kitchen’s, swapping the whole oat groats one-to-one in for the farro.  And I skipped the fresh basil strips because it’s winter and I didn’t measure the tomatoes, just chopped up what seemed like a reasonable amount. The cooking time was also probably about 30 minutes. I just cooked it until the liquid was mostly gone. The oat groats were still a bit chewy, but in a nice way.

Whole oat groat one-pan “farro”

Put 1 cup of whole oat groats in a pot, add 2 cups of boiling water, and then add 2 thinly sliced small onions, 2 sliced garlic cloves, a “reasonable amount” of chopped cherry tomatoes, 1 ¼ tsp sea salt, 1 freaking hot dried red chili, and 1 Tbsp olive oil and let that simmer roughly 30 minutes until the liquid is mostly absorbed.

Fresh parmesan grated over the top and a side salad of cucumber, celery, yellow bell pepper, olive oil, and vinegar, rounded out the dinner.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s