Brown Rice

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

-1 cups brown rice
-2 cups water
-1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter + 1 tsp. olive oil
-1 teaspoon kosher salt

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?

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  • Reply
    Lily @ Lily's Health Pad
    March 3, 2010 at 7:59 am

    I like spelt flour. I’d never thought of baking rice. But that sounds really good!

    Usually, I make a lot of rice at one time, and I incorporate it into my meals for the rest of the week.

  • Reply
    Simply Life
    March 3, 2010 at 8:52 am

    i love brown rice – I should start finding new ways to enjoy it!

  • Reply
    March 3, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Brown rice is a staple in my cupboard. I buy it all the time and it is something that my whole family can enjoy.

    I need a rice maker so I can have it everyday. Hopefully that will day will be coming very soon 🙂

  • Reply
    Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
    March 3, 2010 at 10:44 am

    I love brown rice, but I’d have to say quinoa is my favorite. There’s just something about the chewy-crunchy texture.

  • Reply
    March 3, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Hey, great facts and comments on brown rice! Check out for a great source for amazing brown rice. Thanks for putting together this easy to read piece, it’s a fantastic reminder to eat real, unprocessed healthier and more delicious/ satisfying food.

    A few things about your writing, you state that compared to white rice, brown rice is the best grain out there. Well, we’re only comparing it to white rice, so brown rice is the only other grain we’re talkin about, right?

    Also, when you use the term, “with that being said”, it’s meant to be used as a contrast to the items said. SO, you wouldn’t say, brown rice is healthier, with that being said you should eat brown rice. You use it in a contrasting context, like brown rice is more expensive and harder to find, with that being said you should eat more of it since it’s incredibly healthy.

    I’m a jerk with the details, but please don’t let it take away from my appreciation of your site, it’s fantastic! Keep it up.

  • Reply
    Francesco Tonelli
    March 3, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I love whole barley and spelt. Their texture really does it for me. But I enjoy brown rice very much too, especially simply steamed and served with a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
    Thank you for a beautiful blog!

  • Reply
    March 3, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    I love brown rice! Thanks for all the info in this series. I also like quinoa very much. And I think I’ll experiment with some new grains in the near future…. 🙂

  • Reply
    March 3, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Jon, thanks for the advice. I’m always looking to improve the syntax of my writing. Also, I just did a whole grain series, so yes, I’m only comparing brown rice here to white rice. I am well aware that there are plenty of other, super nutritious grains.

  • Reply
    empower me photo guy
    March 3, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Having your rice ready in advance so that you can reheat it for meals during the week is a great tip. I find that if I am prepared in advance, my food choices are healthier and that in turn leaves me feeling empowered and energized and ready to attack other areas of my life with a positive attitude. Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply
    March 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Sad, I love your whole grain reviews — I’ve learned a lot!

    I love brown rice! I wish I loved quinoa as much as I love brown rice!

    Favorite grain — oats. I’m so boring, but there’s so darn versatile!

  • Reply
    March 3, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Rice Rocks!! 🙂 As do most grains in my book 😉

  • Reply
    Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    March 4, 2010 at 2:11 am

    fave grain is oats
    i am GF so i avoid most grains and the non gluten grains are just not that appealing to me. i am a veggie girl not a grains girl 🙂

  • Reply
    March 4, 2010 at 11:00 am

    MMM love brown rice!! i grew up eating this 🙂

  • Reply
    March 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Brown rice is always a good go to food and tastes good with everything.

  • Reply
    marla {Family Fresh Cooking}
    March 4, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Short grain brown rice is so versatile. Yes, from sweet to savory I love it’s nutty texture and full bodied flavor. Love too that we can make a big batch….I am all about grab and go healthy foods!

  • Reply
    raw food grains | Raw Food Detox
    March 4, 2010 at 6:55 pm

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  • Reply
    March 4, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    I still need and want to try Bethenny’s Frankel’s recipe for brown rice breakfast cereal. It always looks so intriguing, but I need to like make the rice ahead of time. Hehe.

    Thanks for the tip about the baked rice though! Looks good.

  • Reply
    March 4, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    I love love love brown rice! esp in my SUSHI! lol

  • Reply
    March 6, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I love barley cooked in stock and then mixed with cooked rice with grated carrot, lemon zest and grated peppers. yum yum delicious.

  • Reply
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