Effortless & Wholesome Grains Part 1: Brown Rice
Brown rice is one of my favorite grains. It’s chewy, nutty, wholesome and delicious. It makes a healthful base for any meal, and preparing it at home is easy. I usually put a pot of brown rice on the stove before I do anything else in the kitchen, and by the time I’m done preparing the rest of the meal, the rice is ready! When I cook grains, I like to make enough for the meal I’m cooking with extra for lunch the next day.
Brown rice is naturally rich in vitamins and minerals, many of which are lost during the refining process to make white rice. It’s funny that white rice is often fortified with the very minerals and vitamins that brown rice naturally contains. Though I do like white rice on occasion, and it takes less time to cook, I find that it’s worth the extra time to make brown rice for the more complete nutrition it provides, as well as for its pleasant taste and delightfully chewy texture. Brown rice is also a complex carbohydrate, meaning that it takes the body longer to digest the natural sugars within the rice so you are sustained much longer by a serving of brown rice vs. white rice. Choosing complex carbs over simple carbs like white rice, white flour, white bread, etc also helps stabilize your blood sugar. Brown rice keeps you going smooth and steady throughout the day without the peaks and crashes of simple carbs.
Though sometimes I don’t think far enough ahead to do this, if I do plan ahead I like to soak my grains (and beans). Soaking grains makes it easier to assimilate the nutrition they contain, and can improve digestion of whole grains. It does this by initiating the sprouting process during which the grains release the enzyme-inhibitor phytic acid. Not only does soaking make brown rice even more nutritious, it also reduces the cooking time by about 20 minutes. Soaked brown rice takes just about the same amount of time to cook as white rice.
- 1 1/2 cups medium grain brown rice
- 3 cups water
- Optional: Soak the rice in a bowl of water either over night or for about 6-8 hours. When ready to cook, strain the rice and give it a good rinse.
- Combine rice and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover with a lid, and let the rice gently cook for about 40 minutes (20 minutes for soaked rice), or until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Set the rice aside, covered, for about 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork when ready to serve.
Serving ideas: Brown rice goes well with beans, tofu, sautéed vegetables, and is excellent with homemade pesto.
By Chloe Bolton