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Sandra Cain

Sandra CainThe U.S. Dietary Guidelines state that Americans need to eat at least 3 servings of whole grains every day. Many American diets fall short of dietary fiber and whole grains are an easy way to get more fiber or roughage into your system. Whole grains contain the three component parts that make up a cereal grain – the bran, germ, and endosperm (the starchy part of the grain). Whole grains provide more vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber than their milled and processed grain counterparts.

Also, whole grains such as brown rice may help reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. One whole grain that needs to be understood and used more is brown rice which contains almost 2 grams of dietary fiber and just over 100 calories per half-cup. Brown rice has a nutty flavor and a chewier texture than white rice.  Because of the oil in the germ of the rice kernel, brown rice has a shorter shelf life than white rice and maintains its quality for about six months. For longer storage, refrigerate or freeze brown rice.

Brown rice takes longer to cook than regular white rice (about 45 minutes vs. 15 or 20 minutes). However, it’s easy to cook a larger batch and enjoy the brown rice for additional meals that week. Brown rice is also available in quick-cooking and instant forms with much shorter cooking times. These faster cooking forms of rice (white or brown) have been partially cooked and then dehydrated.

Cooked brown rice can be stored, covered tightly, in a shallow container in the refrigerator for six days or in the freezer for 6 months according to the USA Rice Federation. After cooked rice has cooled in the refrigerator, transfer it to plastic freezer bags in quantities needed for future meals. Be sure to label it with the date and quantity. Promptly refrigerate extra cooked rice in shallow containers which allow the rice to cool faster. It’s OK to refrigerate foods while they’re still warm. Place the cooked food in a shallow container and loosely cover so the heat can escape. Cover tightly when cooled.

Perishable cooked foods, such as rice, shouldn’t be left at room temperature longer than TWO hours TOTAL time. Brown rice may be used instead of white rice in recipes. It tastes especially good in salads, stuffing, stews and vegetarian dishes.

According to the USA Rice Federation, brown rice is available in three sizes. Long-grain rice: produces light, dry grains that separate easily. Short-grain rice: yields fat, almost round grains with a higher starch content than the other two varieties; the grains stick together when cooked. Medium-grain rice: has a size and characteristics between the long and short grain rice varieties.

The USA Rice Federation recommends following package directions for preparing brown rice. Top of the Range Combine 1 cup of rice, 2-1/4 cup liquid (water, broth, juice), 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional), and 1 tablespoon butter, margarine, or oil (optional) in 2 to 3 quart saucepan. Heat to boiling; stir once or twice. Reduce heat; cover and simmer. Cook for 45 or 50 minutes. If rice is not quite tender or liquid is not absorbed, replace lid and cook 2 to 4 more minutes. Fluff with fork. Microwave Oven Combine 1 cup rice, 2-1/4 cup liquid, 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional), and 1 tablespoon butter, margarine, or oil (optional) in 2 to 3 quart deep microwave baking dish. Cover and cook on HIGH 5 minutes or until boiling. Reduce setting to MEDIUM (50% power) and cook 30 minutes. Fluff with fork.

Cook extra brown rice and then reheat, following these suggestions. (Add 2 tablespoons of liquid per cup of rice.)

Top of Range: Cover and heat about 5 minutes until heated thoroughly throughout. Use low heat for best results. The amount of time may vary slightly depending on how much rice you’re reheating. Fluff with fork.

Microwave: Cover and cook on HIGH about 1 minute per cup. Cook frozen rice 2 minutes on HIGH for each cup. Fluff with fork. (Note: Many people prefer reheating their rice in the microwave, according to the USA Rice Federation.)

Source:  Vermont Cooperative Extension, USA Rice Federation

Mexican Rice

1 cup chopped onions

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 ¾ cups reduced-sodium, reduced-fat chicken broth

1 1/3  cups long-grain brown rice

1/2 cup diced green or red bell pepper

Nonstick spray

1. Spray a medium saucepan with nonstick spray. Add onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin

and black pepper.

2. Cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Add broth and rice. Bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat to medium low, cover partially and cook for another 35 to 40 minutes, or

until liquid has been absorbed and rice is almost cooked.

5. Add bell pepper (do not stir). Cover and continue cooking for an additional 5 to 10

minutes until bell pepper is tender.

6. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and serve.