Brown Rice 101

by Perinaz Avari | Print This Page

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More than half the world’s population eats rice as the primary dietary staple and brown rice runs at the head of the pack as a nutritional powerhouse. Its superiority to the poor stripped-down white version is marked: Just one cup of brown rice has 3½ grams of fiber (16% of your daily value of fiber and two of the three daily recommended servings of whole grain). Compare that to one cup of white rice, which has less than one gram of fiber.

That’s because brown rice is 100% whole grain, unpolished rice kernels. The oil-rich bran and germ layer are left intact, giving an added punch of more than 15 essential B vitamins, manganese, selenium, magnesium and iron. The complex carbohydrates in brown rice deliver a boost of energy and help regulate and improve mood by triggering serotonin production.

So even if you don’t need to remove other grains, such as wheat from your diet, adding more brown rice is a nutritional no-brainer.

Most folks prefer white rice since it is fluffier and cooks quicker, but with a little know-how, brown rice is easily mastered. Here are my tips and tricks, plus links to two favorite recipes.

Cooking it the right way

Americans consume around 25 pounds of rice per person each year, according to the USA Rice Federation.) And although it is simple, most people are baffled by cooking rice, ending up with a clumpy and sticky blob. For brown rice, the most effective method is the rice cooker, which takes much of the guesswork out of cooking. The next-best option, surprisingly, is the microwave.

Soak raw brown rice for around 30 minutes; it helps open up the grains and reduces cooking time. The general rule of thumb for rice is one part rice to two parts water. Raise the nutritional bar on rice by using broth as the cooking liquid. Brown rice takes around 30-45 minutes to cook. (Much like pasta, rice types vary and its best to follow the cooking times suggested by the manufacturer.) Once cooked, separate the rice with a fork while still hot and keep covered till ready to serve.

Storing it

Due to oils in the bran layer, raw brown rice has a shelf life of six month and can be frozen for an additional three months. Even cooked brown rice freezes well. The best way to thaw and reheat rice is in the microwave oven with a few tablespoons of liquid. (Don’t forget to separate the rice with a fork while still hot.)

Some recipes

The nutty flavor of brown rice complements the sweetness of the cranberries in this Brown Rice Cranberry Salad.

Best made with brown basmati rice, Indian-style Brown Rice Vegetable Pulao can use any combination of vegetables.

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