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So, what are whole grains anyway?

So, what are whole grains anyway?


You walk into a grocery store and see a whole lot of wholes. Not to be mistaken for deep circular pits of doom that break apart long stretches of highway, 'whole grain' and 'whole wheat' products are food items labelled with numerous health claims and caveats. What should you buy? What are whole grains anyway? Are whole grain products even good for you? Let's take a step back and get a closer look.

Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains

Grains can either be whole or refined. Whole grain food essentially contains the entire seed of certain plants. To be classified as such, whole grain products need to contain all three parts of an individual grain kernel: the bran, endosperm, and the germ. These contain valuable nutrients and they're a major source of insoluble fibre, which can keep you fuller for longer and reduce cravings associated with having high blood sugar (no more midnight snacking)!  Refined grains don't have the germ or bran— think white Wonderbread and white sushi rice.  This means that refined products lack some of the nutrients that whole grain products have. What's more, refined grains are generally simple carbohydrates: they make your blood sugar go up and down faster than the tide at Huntington Beach. This induces cravings and it can even make you feel sluggish afterwards. Simple carbs are great if you need a quick burst of energy before a race, but they require minimal work for your body to digest.


Whole Grains vs. Everything Else

In some places, the distinction between whole grain and whole wheat becomes a bit tricky. Take Canada, for example. According to the Whole Grains Council, Canadians face a problem resulting from regulatory naming conventions: whole wheat flour can leave out as much as 5% of the original grain seed. What's more, multigrain and organic products might actually contain minimal to zero whole grains.  Whole grain products must contain 100% of the original grain seed.

Don't eat things you can't pronounce except quinoa (you should eat quinoa) // What are whole grains anyway? - The PumpUp Blog

How to make sure you get whole grains

Almost always sold as whole grains: Amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, quinoa, millet, sorghum, teff.

What to look out for:

To be extra sure that you're eating whole grains, a general rule of thumb is to check if the word 'whole' prefaces the actual grain (ex: whole barley).

  • Barley should be hulled or whole barley, rather than pearl barley
  • Corn should not be 'degerminated'  if it is to be classified as a whole grain.
  • Farro should not be 'pearled'
  • Oats should be 'whole oats' or 'old fashioned oats'; instant or quick oats do have the same nutritional value, but they have a slightly higher glycemic load
  • Rice is generally considered a whole grain when sold as colored rice, such brown rice, wild rice, and black rice. White rice is a refined grain.
  • Rye should be listed as whole rye or rye berries. Rye bread may not necessarily be a whole grain product.
  • Spelt can be sold refined, so it make sure it appears on the ingredient list as whole spelt.
  • Wheat, when listed by itself, can refer to refined wheat. Look for whole wheat or (if you're in Canada), whole grain whole wheat.

So what are whole grains? We hope this helped clarify a few things! Let us know what your favorite whole grains are in the comments below! What is your favorite way to prepare whole grains?  Cover image via PumpUp member vegan_federica. Quinoa photo via Flickr.

Apple Chai Quinoa Porridge

Apple Chai Quinoa Porridge

The first time I attempted to make this delightfully sweet quinoa porridge was a couple of weeks ago, and I haven't been able to stop experimenting with different spices, nuts and fruits since! It was just a matter of time before I tried a chai tea version, because I'm THAT obsessed.
This quinoa porridge is absolutely perfect to make as a quick, warm and yummy dinner on a cold night, but it's just as good on a sunny morning for breakfast. It won't take you more than twenty minutes to put together and I promise it'll keep you full while curbing those sugar cravings thanks to all the protein and fiber it holds!
You can even make it the night before and keep it in the fridge overnight to grab the next morning for breakfast or as a snack. Quinoa porridge is one of those very versatile dishes that you can eat whenever you want and spice up with whatever toppings you like!

Quinoa Porridge Ingredients

  • 1 cup non dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 medium apple chopped in small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2-3 anise stars
  • Honey or sweetener of choice
1. Pour milk into a pot and bring to boil.
2. Once the milk is boiling (bubbling), add in your quinoa.
3. Add in your spices and sweetener.
4. Stir everything together and let it sit, keep an eye on it at all times and stir from time to time to avoid sticking.
5. Once you see that your quinoa's almost done (there should be some of the milk still, almost like a rice pudding consistency) add in your chopped apples and combine them into the mixture. Let it all sit for around two minutes or until they tender.
6. Once it's done, pour into a bowl and top with your favorite nuts and seeds. Enjoy!
Apple chai quinoa porridge
This recipe for apple chai quinoa porridge was created by PumpUp member mariajumps. Keep her pumped on the PumpUp app here!

Savour this un-'beet'able gluten free apple and beet salad

Savour this un-'beet'able gluten free apple and beet salad


I can’t believe spring is finally here, and here to stay! I’ve been waiting a long time for this, mostly because it means that my birthday is just around the corner (I'm smirking right now). Anyways! This month’s recipe is a pretty colorful one, which is bound to get you excited about everything! Not only is it flashy, but it adds a punch to your lunches or dinners! You can say it’s a pretty ‘upbeet’ recipe! Haha! Did you get that pun?! Yes, well if you did, you’ve guessed it, I’m using beets (beetroot) as a main vegetable in this recipe! Yeah, you know that gnarly thing that you’re not sure what to do with it, other than dye everything you own, accidentally of course, hot fuchsia. Other than making your obvious borscht (Ukrainian soup that is beet based), I thought of giving you a recipe that showcases this amazingly delicious and somewhat versatile root veg!

Up beet gemma correll cartoon

Sorry, now that I have this out of my system (AREN'T THEY CUTE), I can actually start the recipe!

Ingredients | Gluten Free Apple Beet Salad

  • 2 cups of diced boiled beets (traditional red ones are excellent, but feel free to gran the heirloom ones, they come in yellow!)
  • 2-3 sticks of celery, finely minced
  • green apple, finely chopped (you can take the peel off, but I like keeping it for a punch of colour)
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 3 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar (regular, or white)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2-3 green onions, finely sliced
  • crumbled feta or goat’s cheese

Beet apple gluten free salad

Before you do anything else, other than turn some music on to dance to while you’re making this, you’re going to want to prep your beets. Usually, beets are sold in bags, much like potatoes, and they need some scrubbing before you use them as well. With a vegetable brush, or a clean (unused) toothbrush that you can use for other vegetables, gently scrub the beets in water. This will dislodge any dirt or unwanted things off the beets before you boil them.

Next, place your beets in a large pot of water (enough water to cover them), and boil them until a fork goes through easily. You will possibly need to add water to the pot while they are boiling, and if the smell bothers you, you can always change up the water throughout. It took me about 1h to boil 6 medium beets.

Now, once they are ready, you want to plunge them in/rinse them in very cold water. This will stop them from cooking more (basically, blanch them). Be careful not to damage the skin. Once they are cool enough to handle, grab a paper towel, or clean dishcloth, and gently rub them. The skin will pretty much slide off on it’s own! No need for peeling.

Gluten free apple beet salad by Zoe Desborough for the PumpUp Blog

There you go, fool-proof way of boiling beets for any other of your needs. You can always bake them  (wrap them in foil and plop them in the oven), but that will alter their taste slightly.

Now chop them up in bite size pieces.

To make the salad, in a big serving dish, mix in your 2 cups of chopped beets, 1 cup of cooked quinoa (follow the package for cooking instructions, but I usually go with a 1 cup quinoa and 1 ¾ cup water ratio… same for my brown rice). Add in your chopped celery, apples, and feta/goat cheese. Follow with your green onions and vinaigrette ingredients (balsamic vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice). Season with some salt and pepper to taste and there you have it!

This vegan apple beet salad is excellent as a side, or as a main itself, and will definitely make your taste buds dance with joy.

I will be attempting to make a purple hummus (beet based of course) in the next few weeks on my personal blog, so keep an eye out!

This vegan apple beet salad recipe is part of a monthly series by Zoë Desborough. Follow Zoë on PumpUp ( @zoedesborough) and on her blog

Meal prep idea: Quinoa with veggies and black beans

Meal prep idea: Quinoa with veggies and black beans


I've heard a lot about black beans! One day, as I was doing my grocery shopping, I decided to buy a can and give them a try. Paired with vegetables and the nutty flavour of quinoa, what I came up with was tasty and super simple to make. Think of this recipe as a 'pantry' meal: something that you can easily whip up in a flash with simple, uncomplicated ingredients from your pantry. Feel free to substitute some of the veggies in the recipe with whatever you have on hand if that suits you better! Quinoa with veggies and black beans can be made in bulk by doubling the recipe; it's an easy way to meal prep.

What you need:

  • A handful of baby spinach
  • 3-4 tablespoons of tomato sauce
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red or green pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1 onion
  • ½  garlic bulb
  • Olive oil
  • Some salt and pepper

How you do it:

  1.  In a saucepan put 3 cups of water (for a cup full of quinoa) and a little bit of salt and let is boil then add the quinoa (make sure the quinoa is rinsed well), cover it and let it cook until the quinoa absorb all the water
  2. Mince the garlic and the onion, cut the zucchini into squares and, the pepper and the carrot into strips
  3. In a pan put some olive oil and add the minced onion and garlic and let it cook for about 5 minutes
  4. Add the pepper, the carrot and the zucchini along with a glass or two of water and let it cook for about 15-20 min then add the black beans and let them cook until nice and soft – you can add more water if you like but you should have some water left in the pan at the end
  5. When it is almost done add the baby spinach, the quinoa and the tomato sauce and stir then let it cook for another 3-4 minutes

Post by Anna M (eatforyourpeace) . Follow her on PumpUp @annaaa_, on Instagram @annaaamsl, and check out her blog. Let us know what you think of Anna's Quinoa with Veggies and Black Beans in the comments below!

4 healthy treats that will teach you a lot about self-love


Learn to love yourself with these 4 healthy, sweet and savory treats - Get Healthy with Valentina

This post is part of a series of monthly posts by Valentina M. Follow her on Instagram @thehealthymexican9 and on PumpUp @thehealthymexican.

  • Quinoa Egg muffins
  • Quinoa-cacao truffles
  • Raw strawberry pie
  • Double layer protein pudding

Ah, romance. Just what everyone needs…right? February is undeniably a month of love: a month when we’re encouraged to express it to others by giving gifts such as candy and flowers. If you’re loath to the idea of February in general (it’s cold, it’s slushy, it’s wet, it’s not quite spring yet, and maybe you feel a bit lonely), I feel you.  But this month has plenty other good qualities that are worth highlighting. Love should also flow inwards, not just outwards. 

The purpose of life is to live, so start living, and start falling in love with you. You are the only person you know you can receive love from, whenever you need it. You are the only person who can give yourself permission to see the beauty of the world. Stop worrying about other people’s opinions. All what really matters is how you feel. Give yourself a chance to learn more about yourself and love yourself no matter what. You are the only person who decides how to nourish your body. The best part about choosing wholesome food is that you know that you’re eating something good for your health, and that by default means that you’re doing something great for yourself.  

So having all that said… Here are some recipe ideas so you can try to find Self-Love through Food! Don’t forget to give you the opportunity to fall in love with your soul and your body!

Quinoa Egg Muffins



  • 3 eggs, large
  • 1 + 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 3 tbsp. ground flax seeds or chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp. onion (garlic) powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 2 handfuls spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, place cupcake liners into a 12 muffin tin and spray generously with cooking spray.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and egg whites for 30 seconds. Add flax/chia seeds, feta cheese, onion (garlic) powder, salt, pepper and whisk to combine. Add quinoa, spinach, bell pepper and mix. Fill each muffin with egg mixture 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the egg muffins from the muffin tin and slide onto a platter. Serve hot and enjoy!

Quinoa Cacao Truffles



  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1 ½ cup puffed quinoa


Mix all of the ingredients (except the puffed quinoa) in a big bowl until well-combined. Mix in the puffed quinoa. Spoon into small muffin lines. Refrigerate until set.

Raw strawberry pie




  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 1 cup (packed) pitted dates
  • ¼ tsp (scant) sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon


  • 3 cups fresh strawberries (measured whole if small, or cut in half if large; these are for filling, you will need extra for garnishing if desired)
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 3-4 tbsp raw agave
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Couple pinches sea salt
  • 1 tsp lemon zest (stir in after pureeing)


Lightly oil a pie plate with coconut oil. Prepare the crust: Place all the crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse briefly until crumbly and the mixture will hold together when pressed with your fingers. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pie plate, pressing it evenly into the pan.  Prepare the filling: Place all the filling ingredients, except the lemon zest (and starting with 3 tablespoons of the agave nectar), in a high-powered blender .Puree for a minute or so at medium-high speed until completely smooth and no texture of the cashews remains. Taste, and add the remaining tablespoon of agave, if needed, to sweeten, and puree again.

2-layer protein pudding


Layer 1: Chia pudding with raspberries


  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1 ½ cup of almond milk
  • 1 cup of quark
  • ½. cup of raspberries.


Mix together chia seeds and milk the night before, or one-two hours before you eat it. Mix the quark and berries with the chia pudding when the mixture has gotten a jelly like consistency. Done!

Layer 2: Casein Pudding


  • Milk
  • Casein protein powder with chocolate flavour


Mix together casein powder with an optional amount of milk into a loose paste. Place batter in a glass and let it stand in the refrigerator until it has gotten a pudding consistency. It is best if it can be refrigerated over the night.  The next morning put the chia mix on top of the casein pudding.  Enjoy!

With Love,



Eat the rainbow with this quinoa salad

This post is part of a monthly series by Zoë Desborough. Follow Zoë on PumpUp ( @zoedesborough) and on her blog

Hi guys! I hope you all had wonderful holidays, filled with good food and fun times! I had a wonderful time back home with my family, and even with all the amazing food I got to eat during the holidays, the scale barely budged!

I was brainstorming the other day, trying to come up with a good back to school/back to work recipe that would help out for lunch or dinner ideas. I got my inspiration from a dish I had made over the summer, and that I re-created for a dinner party I was invited to.

This summery salad was inspired by a little restaurant in Vancouver, called Rebar. My dad got me their cookbook last year when he was there, and I am so glad to have it. It has the best ideas for fresh salads and meals!

The salad I made is a twist on their Corn and Quinoa salad; I had to omit a few ingredients, since I forgot I didn’t have the required ones in my fridge. Either way, this salad is amazing, since it makes a big batch and keeps very well for a few days in the fridge. Also feel free to add other ingredients, such as feta or goat cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, mangoes, cooked chicken breasts, tofu cubes, etc. It’s really up to you!

For the salad, you will need

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked (red, white, black, mixed, doesn’t really matter)
  • 1 bell pepper (any colour), chopped finely
  • 2 green onions or a small handful of chives, chopped finely
  • Half a small red onion, chopped finely
  • Small handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped finely
  • Juice of a lemon, or a lime, or half and half
  • Tiny splash (1 tsp and a bit) of olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Sriracha or 1 jalapeno, chopped finely

Cook your quinoa according to the packaging, it’s fairly foolproof. Once it’s had a chance to cool off, squeeze in half of your lemon juice and a tiny splash of olive oil.

While your quinoa is cooking and cooling, prep your main veggies, and your extras. Once all is ready, dump it all in a big mixing bowl and stir everything together. You’re going to want to do a taste test at this point, and add more lemon/lime juice or spice to the mix, according to your tastes. You don’t want to start off with too much!

If you really want to make it according to the original recipe, you’re going to want to add 2 cups of thawed out frozen corn kernels. It makes the dish a lot more substantial and filling!

Let me know what you think!


PumpUp member _sierra_ wins our PumpUp Swag prize from yesterday!

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash


This is part of a series of recipes from PumpUp member @carolinewaters35. Follow her blog, the Dank Dietitian, here. 
This savory and sweet stuffed acorn squash is the perfect fall/winter weeknight meal. It’s a meal all on its own, filled with quinoa, dried cranberries, broccoli, and parmesan cheese. There are many variations you can make to this dish, including trying different veggies, different cheese, different cuisines (southwestern with peppers and onions? it’s possible). For meat lovers, try adding ground turkey simply sautéed in a pan with garlic and onion! This gluten free and vegetarian meal is a healthy way to end a long day. The quinoa contains tons of protein to supply your muscles with needed protein for recovery after a tough workout session. 

  • 1 medium acorn squash, cut into quarters
  • 1 TBSP agave nectar (or sweetener of choice)
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP Cinnamon
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (1 cup quinoa + 2 cups water or broth of choice)
  • 1 small head of broccoli florets
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 TBSP dried cranberries
  • Dash of sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Slice acorn squash into quarters, and lay down on foil lined baking sheet sprayed with non spray cooking oil.
  3. Drizzle agave onto all 4 pieces then top with butter.
  4. Add desired amount of cinnamon (and any other spices) to squash.
  5. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until tender all the way through with a fork.
  6. As squash is baking, cook quinoa according to package directions.
  7. Once quinoa is cooked, let cool.
  8. Add in dried cranberries and chopped broccoli florets to quinoa.
  9. Mix and scoop out ½ cup and add to squash centers.
  10. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese on top.
  11. Enjoy!

Follow Caroline on PumpUp @carolinewaters35, on Instagram @the_dank_dietitian, and check out the original recipe on her blog. 


12iaaa gets a PumpUp tank this week! From highest to lowest in their uncooked form (according to the USDA, per 100g) the answer from this weekend was: A. Barley (17g), D. Oats (10.6g), C. Quinoa (7g) and B. Brown Rice (3.5g). It was the most even comparison with good data!

We’re super excited to give her a tank, keep her pumped! Tune in this weekend (and all throughout December) for exciting ways to win PumpUp Swag!

Get Healthy with Valentina! Smoothies, Quinoa Salad, Chia Pudding


This post is part of a series of monthly posts by Valentina M. Read her story below and follow her on Instagram @thehealthymexican9 and on PumpUp @thehealthymexican. 

We should always live a healthier lifestyle because nowadays there are so many factors contributing to health degeneration. This includes pollution, chemicals in our food or beverages , etc. The problem is that most people (myself included) start to take action only after they fall sick, or are in the process of losing their health.   I urge you, before you face a health problem or if you are facing it right now, start taking care of you and love yourself.

I faced the need for surgery on my left knee and afterwards the doctors realized it was a bad diagnosis and the real problem was a herniated disc. After surgery I didn’t start a healthier life and began to have many other health problems so when I went to the doctor he told me I needed to start living healthier or everything will be worse. It took me many starts and frustrations before I learned how to live a healthier lifestyle. Today, I am much healthier and fitter. I eat healthily most of the time (with regular indulgences) and I’m able to stick to a meal plan if I want, and avoid junk food most of the time. I know how hard can that be, but it is not impossible.

My advice for you is be creative and explore new foods, explore fruits, seeds, vegetables,nuts. There are foods that many people don’t eat on a regular basis or have never tried some of these. Explore the power you will feel by eating the right things. Start today! Get healthy with me! There are so many healthy and easy recipes you can start doing right now!

chocolate peanut butter smoothie recipe

Chocolate PB Smoothie


  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter 
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana, pre-sliced
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ice as needed


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice according to desired thickness. Decorate the top with some unsweetened coconut flakes, chia seeds or fresh berries or nuts if you wish.

pineapple energy smoothie pumpupapp

Pineapple Energy Smoothie


  • 2 cups ripe pineapple
  • 1 large knob of ginger (about 2-4 inches)
  • 1 cup coconut milk or coconut water
  • Lemon juice (1 lemon squeezed)
  • ½ cup Raspberries


Blend all ingredients for 20-30 seconds and enjoy! Decorate the top with some unsweetened coconut flakes, chia seeds or fresh berries or nuts if you wish.

mango coconut chia pudding recipe pumpupapp

Mango Coconut Chia-pudding


  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh ripe champagne mango, diced
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp sweetened shredded coconut
  • honey to make it sweeter (optional)


Combine all ingredients in a large container Mix and close the container. Refrigerate overnight or at least 5-6 hours. Decorate with more fruits and coconut flakes.

 quinoa tofu salad recipe pumpupapp

Quinoa Tofu Salad


  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well (see Tip)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 6- or 8-ounce package smoked tofu diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • ½ Avocado
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint


1.Bring water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the water has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Spread the quinoa on a baking sheet to cool for 10 minutes.

2.Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cooled quinoa, tofu, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, parsley and mint; toss well to combine.

With Love,


Follow Valentina on PumpUp @TheHealthyMexican