Monday, February 14, 2011

Fluffy Brown Rice

Brown Rice = Good Stuff.

I've always enjoyed brown rice- probably because my mother made it for us and I became accustomed to it at an early age.
My own children enjoy it as well, although typically they prefer white rice if given a choice.   I don't blame them- white rice is yummy.  However, since I've been cooking it a new way, everyone's enjoying it so much more!

The problem for most people is that brown rice can be heavy and very chewy in comparison to the white version.
But it doesn't have to be. 

I have a simple recipe for making light, fluffy, filling brown rice.
But first; a little about why brown rice is better:

Why Brown-But Not White-
Rice is One of the World's Healthiest Foods
The difference between brown rice and white rice is not just color! A whole grain of rice has several layers. Only the outermost layer, the hull, is removed to produce what we call brown rice. This process is the least damaging to the nutritional value of the rice and avoids the unnecessary loss of nutrients that occurs with further processing. If brown rice is further milled to remove the bran and most of the germ layer, the result is a whiter rice, but also a rice that has lost many more nutrients. At this point, however, the rice is still unpolished, and it takes polishing to produce the white rice we are used to seeing. Polishing removes the aleurone layer of the grain-a layer filled with health-supportive, essential fats. Because these fats, once exposed to air by the refining process, are highly susceptible to oxidation, this layer is removed to extend the shelf life of the product. The resulting white rice is simply a refined starch that is largely bereft of its original nutrients. 
The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be "enriched" with vitamins B1, B3 and iron. 
Read more of this great article here.

This recipe calls for soaking the rice before cooking.  Traditionally, whole grains were always soaked.  Even the original directions for Quaker Oats called for soaking overnight.  Soaking softens the outer layer of the grains and also reduces the phytic acid, which interferes with the absorption of vitamins and minerals .  This applies to other whole grains- wheat included.

Now for the basic recipe- adjust amounts for your family size.
In a bowl or pot add the following:
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon plain yogurt/buttermilk or Kefir

(If you don't have any of these, you can easily make mock buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk)

Stir and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Do not drain.  When ready to cook, add 3/4 tsp. salt and cook on stove top (in pot with tight-fitting lid), in a rice cooker or bake as you normally would. (about 45-50 minutes)

The rice will be fluffier, lighter in color and have a softer texture.



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