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Rice

Rice is the king of the world of whole grains. I appreciate its value so much that I've even written it a poem:
Rice, you are so nice, sweet or savory with herbs or spice.
In many guises you come to my table—to praise you enough I would never be able.
Your nectar I use to sweeten my cakes, and your milk to pour on my porridge or flakes.
Rice is truly one of God's gifts. It's inexpensive, as versatile as your imagination and readily available worldwide. It's a slow-burning carbohydrate, which provides a sustained energy release, is high in fiber and low in fat and contains many other nutrients vital to good health. Brown rice is a good source of B vitamins, which help reduce stress and keep blood sugar levels stable. It's also rich in minerals such as magnesium, which helps regulate nerve and muscle tone and is vital for bone health. It's a good source of manganese and selenium, which is a critical nutrient for thyroid health, as it helps regulate the amount of thyroid hormone, T3, produced by the thyroid.

The optimum way to consume rice, of course, is in its whole form as brown rice. Brown rice contains all the fiber and the full nutritional benefits of the grain. When the outer hull and fiber is removed as with white rice, its nutritional value is greatly diminished. It also makes the rice higher on the glycemic index, as it breaks down and turns to sugar much more quickly in the body without the fiber to slow down this process.

Soaking grains for several hours or overnight before cooking helps make them more digestible.

To make a perfect pot of brown rice, rinse 1 cup of rice thoroughly by putting it into a pot or bowl and covering with cold water. Swirl with your hands and drain off the water using a sieve. Return the rice to a heavy-based saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid and add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, add a pinch of sea salt, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 45 minutes. Turn off heat and let the rice sit for 10 minutes before turning out onto a serving dish with a wooden spoon or rice paddle. It can now be served as a simple side dish with a meal or used as a base for many dishes from sushi rolls to salads.

Cooking rice in a pressure cooker gives it a lovely texture, and this cuts down on the cooking time. To pressure-cook, reduce the amount of water to 1 1/2 cups per cup of rice, and once pressure has come up, cook for 20 minutes. Take off the heat to allow pressure to subside before opening.

I could write an entire book on recipes using brown rice as a basis, but for now, here are a few simple recipes you might enjoy:

Quick Fried Rice

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion—cut into half moons
  • 1 tsp. fresh minced ginger
  • 1 carrot—thick julienne
  • 1 ear of corn—kernels removed from cob
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 Tbsp. tamari (soy sauce)
  • Sprinkle of lemon juice 
Heat oil in a pan or wok and add onion and ginger—sauté for a minute. Add carrot and corn kernels and continue to sauté for several minutes. Add rice, white part of scallions and tamari and toss with veggies until heated through. Sprinkle with lemon juice and green parts of scallions before serving.

Sunny Rice burgers

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 cup assorted minced veggies such as onion, carrot, celery, peppers
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • Dried or fresh herbs of your choice, such as parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, cilantro
  • 1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans, mashed
  • 1 tsp. Worcester sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. tamari
  • 1 tsp. mustard
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well with clean hands. Form into burgers or rissoles and coat in sesame seeds or bread crumbs. Panfry in a little oil until browned on both sides. Serve with steamed veggies or inside a whole grain burger bun topped with sliced tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and mustard, ketchup or mayonnaise. Instead of the garbanzo beans, you can use other beans such as pinto, cannellini or kidney beans or tofu.

Cooking with quinoa

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