Meet This Grain: Brown Rice

by in Healthy Recipes, December 30, 2009

Brown Rice
Brown rice is an old standby in the whole-grain world, but it doesn’t always get the love it deserves. Find out all the delicious ways you can savor this easy-to-cook grain.

Why Is Brown Rice “Healthy Eats”?
Whole grains are a more nutritious choice because they provide hunger-fighting protein, filling fiber and energy-boosting vitamins. Brown rice has its distinctive color because the entire grain is left intact (which means more nutrients). When you compare brown rice to white rice, you’ll find that the whole-grain version has 3 grams more fiber, 2 grams more protein and 10 times more of the B-vitamins niacin, thiamin and B6. Brown rice also contains more healthy fats — a good thing, but it also means it doesn’t keep as long as white rice. Store it fresh in an air-tight container in the pantry for up to six months.

Some people complain that they don’t like brown rice’s taste. It does have a heartier texture and nuttier flavor, but once you match it up with the right foods, you’ll see its potential. This rice takes longer to cook than other grains, but it couldn’t be easier to prepare (just add water, salt and simmer). Quick-cooking varieties are available at the market or you can speed up the cooking time to 15 minutes by using a pressure cooker.

What To Do With Brown Rice
Rice makes a quick-and-easy side dish when prepped with fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Get more adventurous by adding in some vegetables and cheese. Throw the rice into soups and stuffings for a more substantial dish. When rice teams up with legumes such as beans, you get a protein-packed duo that can be a meal on its own.

Grains such as rice also make amazing salads with veggies, fruit and lean meats. My favorite lately has been a Greek-inspired version made with leftover grilled chicken, crumbled feta cheese, chopped cucumber and balsamic vinaigrette — serve chilled or at room temperature.

There is also a cereal version known as puffed brown rice cereal, which you can swap for the white stuff for breakfast or in your bars and sweet treats. This whole-grain version may be a little harder to find; Erewhon is a good brand I get at my local grocer.

Whenever I boil rice, I always make extra. I use some for my Spicy Cheesy Rice (recipe below) early in the week and save the rest for a stir-fry, salad or burritos a few days later. Here are five more ways to use up your leftover rice.

Another staple in my house is rice pasta. Made from water and brown rice ground into flour, it’s a tasty and gluten-free alternative to pasta made from wheat.

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