Rice: To eat, or not to eat: that is the question. In recent years carbohydrates have taken on a bad name with many experts recommending a low or no carbohydrate diet. Some carbohydrates have been labelled "bad carbohydrates" like rice, potatoes and bread. The reality is that if you stick with the whole grain versions of these carbohydrates then these carbohydrates are in fact quite good for you. That leads me back to rice. We eat a fair amount of it in my house and we try to stay away from white rice. White rice is highly refined and polished. In the processing of white rice they strip the grain of it's bran (seed coat) and germ (embryo). This is where all the fiber and nutrients are so as a result the manufacturers have to add nutrients back into the white rice. Even though they fortify this rice, manufactures fail to add fiber back. In contrast, brown rice which is unrefined has 7x the fiber as white rice. That's a lot of fiber! If you are trying to stay away from processed food white rice is clearly not what you want to eat! Brown rice has a whole host of nutrients that are present without fortifying it like magnesium, phosphate, potassium, B6, thiamine, niacin and selenium. What kind of rice is even better than brown? Black rice! Because of it's dark hue this type of rice outperforms brown rice in terms of antioxidants because black rice is unhulled. This allows black rice it to retain it's antioxidants. It is chewier and has a more intense flavor than brown rice and is slightly higher than brown rice in the amount of fiber and protein it contains. Both brown and black rice have been found to aid in the prevention of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's Disease. Rice is an amazing carbohydrate if you choose the right variety so don't disregard it because it has been labelled a "bad carbohydrate"!
One quick foot note: Recent studies have found high levels of arsenic in rice that is grown in the southern United States. This is cause for concern especially if you eat a fair amount of rice. There is rice that is safe to eat but you must make sure that it comes from Pakistan or California. Lundberg Organic rice is a brand that is readily available in most organic sections of grocery stores and is made in California. They are very diligent about testing for arsenic levels and their rice consistently tests very low in arsenic.
If you are unfamiliar with black rice, my husband recently made a fantastic dish that was enthusiastically enjoyed by the entire family. He modified a vegetable paella recipe and it was fantastic! Give black rice a try sometime soon! It's delicious!
Wayne’s Black Rice and Vegetable Paella
- 8 vine-ripened plum tomatoes
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 large bulb fennel, cut into 8 wedges
- 2 endive optional
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 1/2 cups black rice
- 12 ounces green beans, halved if large
- 1 cup red peppers, diced
- 4oz. mushrooms, sliced
1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Core the tomatoes, cut into wedges and place in a medium bowl; season with salt, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and toss. Set aside.
2) Heat 1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable broth in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, paprika and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soften, about 5 minutes.
3) Add the fennel wedges and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip the fennel and add the eggplant, green beans and endive to the skillet; cook until slightly tender, about 4 more minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
4) While the vegetables are sautéing, par-cook the rice for 10 minutes in a Dutch oven.
5) Once the rice is done place the vegetables on top of the rice and place in the oven uncooked for 20 minutes.
6) Remove from the oven and layer tomatoes on top of the vegetables and return to the oven for 10 more minutes. Serve immediately.
Adapted from the Food Network by Wayne Shaia