Monday, June 4, 2012

How to make white rice nutritious

One of the problems often pointed out about rice, and particularly about white rice, is that its nutrition content is fairly low. It is basically carbohydrates with some trace amounts of protein. A 100-g portion of cooked white rice will typically deliver 28 g of carbohydrates, with zero fiber, and 3 g of protein. The micronutrient content of such a portion leaves a lot to be desired when compared with fruits and vegetables, as you can see below (from Nutritiondata.com). Keep in mind that this is for 100 g of “enriched” white rice; the nutrients you see there, such as manganese, are added.


White rice is rice that has had its husk, bran, and germ removed. This prevents spoilage and thus significantly increases its shelf life. As it happens, it also significantly reduces both its nutrition and toxin content. White rice is one of the refined foods with the lowest toxin content.

Another interesting property of white rice is that it absorbs moisture to the tune of about 2.5 times its weight. That is, a 100-g portion of dry white rice will lead to a 250-g portion of edible white rice after cooking. This does not only dramatically decrease white rice’s glycemic load () compared with wheat-based products in general (with some exceptions, such as pasta), but also allows for white rice to be made into a highly nutritious dish.

If you slow cook almost anything in water, many of its nutrients will seep into the water. All you have to do is to then use that water (often called broth) to cook white rice in it, and you will end up with highly nutritious rice. Typically you will need twice as much broth as rice, cooked for about 15 minutes – e.g., 2 cups of broth for 1 cup of rice.

You can add meats to the white rice, such as pulled chicken or shrimp; add some tomato sauce to that and you’ll make it a chicken or shrimp risotto. You can also add vegetables to the rice. If you want your rice to have something like an al dente consistency, I recommend doing these after the rice is ready; i.e., after you cooked it in the broth.

For the white rice-based dish below I used a broth from about two hours of slow cooking of diced vegetables; namely red bell peppers, carrots, celery, onions, and cabbage. After cooking the rice for 15 minutes, and letting it "sit" for a while (another 15 minutes with the pan covered), I also added the vegetables to it.


As a side note, the cabbage and onion tend to completely dissolve after 1 h or so of slow cooking. The added vegetables give the dish quite a nutritional punch. For example, the cabbage alone seems to be a great source of vitamin C (which is not completely destroyed by the slow cooking), the anti-inflammatory amino acid glutamine, and the DNA repair-promoting substance known as indole-3-carbinol ().

The good folks over at the Highbrow Paleo group on Facebook () had a few other great ideas posted in response to my previous post on the low glycemic load of white rice (), such as cooking white rice in bone broth (thanks Derrick!).

15 comments:

luckybastard said...

Ned, I've been doing something similar as of late. I've been slow cooking meaty grass-fed bones from cattle and lamb for a couple hours. First I sear with pastured butter, then I add all my spices and vegetables, add a little water and let slow cook in it's own steaming juices for awhile. After that's done, I add a cup or two of water and then put the rice in, take it off heat and let it sit until rice absorbs all the water- usually about 20-30 minutes. Most nutritious and delicious vehicle for rice I've come across.

Ned Kock said...

Hi LB, thanks for commenting. That suggestion came via Derrick Martin, who is now properly acknowledged in the post.

J. Stanton said...

Note that Mexican rice, as served in nearly every Mexican restaurant, is cooked this way: it's simmered in chicken broth and tomato sauce. (There are more steps to the process, but that's the key.)

JS

Ned Kock said...

Hi JS. Years ago I used to cross the border with my wife for lunch in a “cabrito asado” restaurant in Mexico, before the drug-related crime got out of control.

It seems to me that they usually fry the rice before they add the goodies, and that they also use cheap industrial seed oils for that – unfortunately.

Ned Kock said...

By the way JS, a bit off topic, but related to something that you seem to be very interested in – I think that there must have been a strong sexual selection component behind brain evolution in Sapiens.

The exponential growth in brain size that we see in the last few million years is characteristic of sexually selected traits, which usually undergo “fast” change (in evolutionary terms).

Maybe something for us to talk about at AHS-12 in Cambridge …

Anonymous said...

You can fry the rice beforehand using ghee to be lightly browned, although I am not sure if the high heat changes any of the nutritional components or not. It only takes a about 2 minutes.

Againstthegrain said...

I've made rice with bone broth instead of plain water for many years after learning that the fantastic rice at a local Turkish restaurant was made with chicken broth, though my bone broth is simmered for at least 8 hours, often even 24 hours. It's the easiest way to get my 7th grader to consume bone broth - he balks at a cup of plain broth or soup to start the meal. He must have very dense bones & teeth, because he's always been heavier than he appears for his size, and he has never had a dental cavity despite no fluoride use, no dental sealants & lackadaisical tooth brushing habits.

I also make a quick & easy GF mac & cheese with brown rice pasta for him (can't find any white rice pasta for sale). I boil the pasta in homemade chicken bone broth, though I use less liquid than recommended for boiling pasta. I don't drain all the broth out, then I stir in some grassfed butter & cream, then some grated grassfed aged cheddar or parmesan cheese (or a combo, depending on what's on hand), and off the heat, a pastured egg yolk or two to further enrich the sauce (sort of à la carbonara style). That makes a very rich creamy cheese sauce carried by a rather small amount of brown rice pasta, and it only takes a few minutes more to prepare than the "blue box" version. One serving is quite satisfying, unlike boxed or even conventionally homemade mac & cheese, which tend to lead to second and third helpings.

For variation or to make a more complete meal I serve the mac & cheese over some steamed broccoli (or add frozen peas or broccoli to the pasta while it's cooking in the broth). Or I stir in some flaked pole-caught skipjack canned tuna to the finished mac & cheese (skipjack is a smaller tuna variety, & the brand I buy is packed in its own juice, so no need to drain).

Ron lavine said...

Cooking white rice in broth is a good idea - I plan to start doing it. I've been lax in making broths - (too busy, etc.) but they make so much sense. How else can you get the maximum nutritional value from the foods you've bought?

here said...

I add a cup or two of drinking water and then put the grain in, take it off warm and let it sit until grain assimilates all the water- usually about 20-30 moments. Most healthy and delightful automobile for grain I've come across.

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