If you’ve ever heard of adding wheat germ to your foods, you may have wondered what it is and why you would add it. Wheat germ is simply a component of the whole grain wheat kernel. In fact, all whole grains are composed of the bran, the endosperm and the germ. Each component contains valuable nutrients.
While the germ is the smallest part of the wheat kernel, it packs in the most nutrition. Wheat germ contains the minerals magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, as well as the vitamins niacin, folate and vitamin E. One-fourth cup of wheat germ has 8 grams protein, 4 grams dietary fiber, 2 grams unsaturated fats and only 108 calories. Since many of the wheat foods we eat are stripped of the germ and bran, thus not containing the whole grain, it can be beneficial to add it back in. Wheat germ, as well as wheat bran, are sold separately and are generally found in either the flour section or health foods section of your local grocery store. Once opened, store wheat germ in the refrigerator, as it can become rancid due to its healthy fat content.
Use wheat germ in baked good recipes, such as muffins, quick breads and cookies, replacing up to ½ cup flour with wheat germ. Replace breadcrumbs with wheat germ in meatloaf, veggie burgers or breaded chicken or fish. Wheat germs nutty taste goes well in granola, cold cereal or oatmeal. It’s a delicious way to add valuable nutrients to the diet.
Pumpkin Nut Bars (Printable PDF)
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup wheat germ
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup margarine
1 (15 oz.) can pure pumpkin
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated skim milk
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, combine flour, wheat germ and oats. Cut in margarine with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Press into ungreased 13x9-inch pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, blend pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar and spices. Pour over crust and bake for 20 minutes. In a small bowl, combine pecans and brown sugar. Sprinkle over pumpkin filling. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until filling is set. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
Yield: 24 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 150 calories, 7 grams fat, 70 milligrams sodium, 19 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 3 grams protein
Sources: USDA Food Data Central
This blog post was first published in the Pantagraph on October 6, 2021.