Introducing….GRAINularity! For you Secret Ingredient followers, GRAINularity is a new series that will discuss our large variety of grain choices. Hopefully this series will encourage you to experiment and try new grains that you may have heard of somewhere but don’t know what to do with them! But first let’s start with the basics…
As one of the most popular grains in our country, and the most common food around the world, RICE is the go-to side dish for many of us. However, with all the different kinds of rice out there (worldwide there are thought to be more than 40,000 species), how do we know what is actually good for us?
Brown rice – The Nutrition Powerhouse. Yeah, you’ve heard it’s good for you, but why? This rice is a whole grain because it is un-milled, which means unprocessed or how it naturally grows out of the ground. It contains layers called bran, germ, and aleurone layers,which contain fiber, vitamins and minerals. Brown rice also has essential fats and vitamin E from the wheat germ layer, which you can also buy separately. A GREAT BANG FOR YOUR BITE, brown rice comes in long, medium, and short grain varieties, which are all nutritionally the same for you, but will cook to different textures depending on how you like your rice, fluffy or creamy. The longer the grain, the fluffier the rice. And although it takes longer to cook, the rich nutty flavor is well worth the wait.
***Note – Trader Joes cooks and freezes 10 oz packets of Organic brown rice (about 2.5 servings per packet). This way you can eat brown rice and not have wait for it to cook!!!
White rice – What’s the point? This is brown rice that has been processed or milled to remove the bran, germ, aleurone layers. In other words, this is rice that has been stripped of its nutrients, including fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, to extend shelf life. Sometimes manufacturers enrich or add vitamins and minerals back in after processing, but wouldn’t it be better just to eat it before they do all that? Not to mention they cannot add back fiber…
***Exception to the rule - Brown rice sushi has added sugars to it to make the rice stickier. Rather than eating added sugars, in this scenario it's healthier to choose the white rice option. 1 sushi roll = 1 rice serving or 1/2 cup of rice.
Aromatic rice – It depends…Examples include Jasmine rice, native to Thailand, and Basmati rice, originating in India and Pakistan. They are long grains, containing less starch creating a fluffier consistency. Aromatic rice varieties contain a high concentration of volatile compounds, which make them fragrant. They come in both brown and white rice varieties so the nutritional content varies depending on which variety you choose, with the brown rice varieties being considerably higher in nutrients.
Arborio rice – Unfortunately…Originating in Italy, this short grain rice has a higher starch content giving it an extremely creamy consistency. As a white rice variety, Arborio rice has been stripped of its nutrient content. So although it is delicious, restrict your use of Arborio rice to delicacy dishes like risotto or rice pudding.
Wild rice – 2nd runner up Contrary to its name, wild rice is not actually
a member of the rice family. Native to North America, wild rice produces unusually long grains and a complex, distinctive flavor. Although slightly lower in calories than brown rice, it is also slightly lower in fiber and is missing good fats that brown rice contains. However, it is still a whole grain with all nutrient content intact, making it a healthy choice.
Why have you done a good thing?
Despite popular fad diets that say eating carbohydrates is bad for you or will make you gain weight, including whole grains like brown rice in your diet is essential. Brown rice contains fiber, which as we’ve said before, helps keep you full and helps to maintain your weight, regulates your bowel movements, lowers cholesterol, and helps maintain normal blood sugars. It also contains B vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, which are needed to create energy for our bodies, maintain skin integrity, regulate nervous systems, and build hormones. Most importantly, brown rice has both the essential vitamin E and selenium that both act as antioxidants protecting our bodies from oxidative damage. Folate is also found in brown rice and is involved in building DNA and other proteins. Folate also is essential for pregnant women to promote a healthy nervous system development in your child.
***The important thing to remember is to control your portions and balance your meals with protein, fat, and whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. An appropriate serving of brown rice at any meal is ½ to 1 cup cooked (1/4 to ½ cup before cooking), which contains about 100-200 calories, 3-6 g protein, 20-40 g carbohydrates, 3-5 g fiber, 1-2 g fat.
1 cup short grain brown rice, uncooked or **Note above Trader Joe’s Frozen Organic Brown Rice packets
2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup pine nuts, unsalted
1 butternut squash, cubed
Butternut squash seeds
1 honeycrisp apple, small cubes
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 425.
Heat stock to boil and add rice. Stir once when rice is first added. Add salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg. Reduce heat to simmer and cook covered until all liquid has evaporated, about 30-40 minutes.
While rice is cooking, cut the butternut squash length wise, scooping out the middle and preserving the seeds. Rinse seeds and dry. On a baking tray, put squash seeds and pine nuts and bake for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Put aside.
Next, cube the butternut squash and apple and roast at 425 until tender, about 20-30 minutes.
When rice is finished cooking, fluff with a fork and add nuts, seeds, squash, and apple and mix to combine.
**Note – serve along side your favorite chicken or fish dish. For vegetarians, feel free to add chickpeas to this mixture or serve along side tofu!!
Look out for other GRAINularity series to learn about all the wonderful whole grain options available!!!