Celebrating Rice

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What’s nice about rice?  It is a hearty grain that is sodium-free, cholesterol-free, fat-free, easy-to-cook and rich in complex carbohydrates. At 100 calories per one-half cup, it is a low calorie source of many nutrients, including protein, B vitamins, and iron. Rice is a unique grain because it contains all eight essential amino acids.  Though the protein content of rice is low, it is considered one of the highest quality proteins compared to other grains.
What is the difference between brown rice and white rice?
Brown rice is the least processed form of rice. Only the hull has been removed. The bran layer is left intact which gives the brown color. Brown rice has a slightly chewy texture and a nutty flavor. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, especially the B vitamins. White rice has the hull and the bran removed. White rice contains a lot less fiber. It is also much lower in magnesium, potassium, chromium and other essential minerals, except iron. Enrichment only adds back 4 of the B vitamins. Missing are more B vitamins, along with phytochemicals that may help protect against cancer and heart disease.
More Choices
Did you know that there is more to choose from than just brown rice or white rice? The many different varieties of rice offer distinct colors, textures, and flavors.  Here is a guide to some of the different types of rice:
• Long rice has a long, slender kernel and is four to five times longer than it is wide. When cooked, the grains are separate, light, and fluffy.  Choose long grain rice for dishes where separate, distinct grains are desired, such as pilaf.
• Medium rice is shorter in length, and moist when cooked. It has a greater tendency to stick together, and so it is best used for croquettes, rice molds, or risottos.
• Short grain rice has an almost round kernel, and the grains are soft and stick together when cooked. It is best suited to dishes with a creamier texture such as rice pudding.
• Aromatic rice has a natural aroma and flavor that is similar to roasted popcorn or nuts.. There are three popular types of aromatic rice. Della rice cooks dry, separate, and fluffy. Jasmine rice is moist and clings together when cooked. Basmati rice cooks into very long and slender grains, and is dry, separate, and fluffy.
Tips for perfect rice every time:
• Measure the rice and liquid accurately.
• Cook for the exact time specified and do not stir the rice while it is cooking.
• If rice is not done at the end of the cooking time, add more liquid and cook 2 to 4 minutes longer. When rice is cooked, fluff with a fork to allow steam to escape and keep the grains separate.
Read the Label
Boxed rice mixes are often very high in sodium and low in fiber. Read the label so you are aware of how much sodium and fat they contain. Here is a recipe for a fast, tasty rice pilaf that uses instant brown rice:
2 cups instant brown rice
2 cups lowfat, reduced sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp minced dried onion
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Combine all ingredients in a large microwave container. Cover and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Comparison of Cooked White Rice and Brown Rice (1/2 cup)

Compare brown and white rice:

Brown rice      White Rice*
Protein    2.5 gms     2.1 gms
Fiber    1.8 gms    .3 gms
Iron    .4 mg    4.3 mg
Potassium    42 mg    28 mg
Thiamine    .09 mg    .13 mg
Riboflavin    .02 mg    .01 mg
Niacin    1.5 mg    1.2 mg
Folate    3.9 mg    45.8 mg
Vitamin E    .7 mg    .13 mg
Source: www.usarice.com - visit this site for recipes, tips and more information.
By Beth Fontenot, MS, LDN, RD

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