Food Babies

No, not you…. you, the bowlegged one

Rice

Posted by Hilary on April 18, 2010

The second question my mom had was about rice. There’s so many types of rice, it can be hard to know what to choose.

Brown Rice vs. White Rice

Most people recognize brown vs. white rice to be one of the basic distinctions. Rice itself is the seed of a plant (Oryza Sativa). Brown rice has only the chaff removed, whereas white rice has the bran and germ removed. White rice keeps longer, but has far less nutritional value than brown rice. Brown rice has much more fiber, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium than white rice. It also has more vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B vitamins, selenium, folacin, magnesium, and iron.  Fortified white rice will have a lot of these nutrients added back in later in processing (which makes zero sense to me, why not just leave them in to begin with?). Brown rice is also more environmentally friendly, as it is less processed and thus requires less energy. Brown rice takes longer to cook, but all that means for me is starting the rice cooker earlier (in my rice cooker brown rice takes about 45 minutes and white rice takes about 20-25 minutes).

Rice brain oil (mentioned in previous post on oil) is found in brown rice (not white rice), and contains gamma-oryzanol, a compound thought to help lower cholesterol. Brown rice also has a lower glycemic index than white rice.

Long vs. Medium vs. Short Grain Rice

Long-grain rice is just that, long. It is light and fluffy when cooked. Some people argue that long-grain rice has more flavor. Medium-grain rice is more tender, and sticks together a little more than long-grain rice. Short-grain rice is very nearly round and is soft and sticky when cooked (popular uses include sushi and risotto). Short-grain rice is more glutinous, which may be an important factor for people on low-gluten/no-gluten diets.

Verdict

We exclusively buy brown rice now. Our favorites are two popular aromatic rices: Jasmine and Basmati. Jasmine rice is a long-grain rice that smells amazing. The cooked kernels are very moist. Basmati rice is also a long-grain rice. When cooked the grains swells only lengthwise, resulting in “free-floating” grains that are less sticky than most rice. Basmati is a popular accompaniment to Indian fare.

In the end I recommend brown rice for nutritional and environmental reasons. Long-grain rices are probably the best starting point for most purposes. Beyond that, there are still a multitude of rices to choose from, so just try what looks interesting until you find your favorites.

P.S. I also strongly recommend a rice cooker. They are cheap and make cooking rice so easy.

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One Response to “Rice”

  1. Ray said

    Something else fun about Brown Rice is Brown Rice Syrup. Brown Rice Syrup works great as an alternative to traditional sweeteners. It is fantastic for healthier desserts while satisfying a sweet tooth and it doesn’t sending me on a roller coaster ride. It has a mellow, gentle, yet complete sweet taste. It is a little pricy though…

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