I may have given brown rice a “boring” label in my first post describing whole grains, but it’s certainly not because I think brown rice is boring. I just find brown rice to be a tad ubiquitous, but it is undoubtedly a wonderful and extremely versatile whole grain. Particularly noteworthy characteristics of rice are that it’s rather cheap and hearty. In fact, rice supplies as much as half of the world’s population with half of their daily calorie consumption. This popular grain has plenty to offer, particularly the brown variety. In comparison to white rice, brown rice could seem like the most interesting (and healthful) grain out there.
The milling process that transforms brown rice into white rice destroys almost all of rice’s B vitamins, as well as half the manganese, phosphorus, and iron that unprocessed rice contains. It also eliminates pretty much all of the fiber and essential fatty acids that make rice so filling and fantastic. White rice is usually enriched with vitamins B1, B3, and iron to help make up for the loss of vitamins during processing. However, naturally occurring vitamins in rice are bound to be absorbed more fully by the body, and the fiber that’s lost through the milling process is lost forever. With that being said, it’s definitely a wiser choice to choose brown rice over white when available.
Per serving (1/4 cup, dried), brown rice contains 3 grams of fiber, or 13% DV. Brown rice is also high in a variety of minerals including manganese, selenium, and magnesium.
Several studies have shown that brown rice can help improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It has also been shown to help with weight management, probably because of its fiber content.
Aside from its wonderful health benefits, I love brown rice because of its relatively mild flavor, which provides it with such versatile qualities. From cinnamon, to garlic, to curry, almost any spice/flavor can be blended into rice. Brown rice can have a rather soft or chewy texture depending upon how long you choose to cook it. Because of its varying texture capabilities, brown rice can be utilized in both creamy, pudding-like recipes (such as risotto or rice pudding) as well as in drier dishes (such as sushi or in sandwich wraps).
You don’t have to be an established cook to make brown rice. It’s simple and can be made in bulk so that you can reheat and eat it all week long if you desire. For four servings, simply combine one cup of rice with two cups of water in a saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 50 minutes, or less if you desire a chewier texture. Remove from heat, and let sit for 10 minutes (optional). Fluff, and add any desired toppings you prefer, such as soy sauce, garlic powder, olive oil, butter, or teriyaki sauce.
For a fun and quick meal, saute up some leftover brown rice with some olive oil, veggies (garlic, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.), tofu, and soy sauce to create a delicious better-than-your-local-Chinese-restaurant fried rice.
I also like to occasionally switch up my traditional style of cooking grains by popping brown rice into the oven. I use just a pat of butter, which gives the rice a full, rich flavor without adding too much fat. Baking the rice creates a chewier, al dente, but not too al dente, texture. Plus, this cooking method saves space on the stove when I got a few other tasty dishes awaiting the rice.
Baked Brown Rice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter an 8-inch baking dish, and place rice inside. Place the water, butter, and salt in a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Once water has reached a boiling point and butter is fully melted, pour into the baking dish over the rice. Stir and cover with aluminum foil (shiny side facing down). Bake for one hour. Remove from oven, fluff, and serve.
This will be my last post highlighting my favorite whole grains. While there are tons of other grains that I enjoy, these are the few that show up frequently on my plate. What is your favorite whole grain?