Ask Peggy

What's a "good" carbohydrate meal?

Dear Peggy: What kind of meals can you make that have good carbohydrates or are low in carbohydrates when things like breads, pasta and sugar put on the pounds? —S.K., Warren, Ohio

Carbohydrates have gotten a bad wrap over the past few years. We need carbohydrates for energy and nutrients, so they aren't bad for us. Carbohydrates include grains and sugar as well as dairy products, fruit and veggies, too. However, when it comes to overeating, we are most likely to overindulge on starchy foods like bread, rice, cereal, pasta and sweets, which is why they've taken the heat for putting on pounds.

When it comes to carb staples like bread, rice and pasta, the key isn't to avoid them, but to choose healthier options and watch portion sizes. The best carbs are those from whole grains. Whole grains provide the benefit of fiber and additional nutrients that refined grains lack. Check the ingredient list when looking for whole wheat foods—make sure "whole wheat" is included. Here are some menu ideas to help boost whole grains:


  • Oatmeal including old-fashioned oats, quick oats and instant oatmeal
  • Wheat flake breakfast cereal
  • Oat-based granola over reduced-fat yogurt
  • Whole wheat bagels
  • Whole wheat English muffins
  • Buckwheat pancakes


  • Sandwiches on whole wheat bread
  • Wraps using whole wheat tortillas
  • Cold salads that incorporate whole grains like bulgur and barley


  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Soups and stews with barley
  • Burgers and sandwiches on whole wheat rolls
  • Corn muffins (made with cornmeal) instead of white dinner rolls
  • Brown and wild rice side dishes

Recipes for Rice Side Dishes»