Sunday, September 22, 2013

Food Facts: September Grain of The Month: Rice

September is ....
Back to school for most colleges and schools,
Time to get some cozy sweaters out,
Apple-picking season,
Great for running - I am loving these cooler runs,
and
Whole Grain Month!
Give it up all y'all!
~ Okay, I'm not from the south, so I have no idea where that came from! ~
September is also ...
National Rice Month!
And more specifically, Wild Rice Month
Give me a show of hands, if you didn't know this .... (ssssh, don't tell my dietetic preceptors, I didn't know this either).
Years ago, I worked for Matsushita Electric Corporation of America (Panasonic Company). I remember asking one of my co-workers, who was from Asia, if they ate brown rice where she grew up. She looked at me and laughed. Then she said,
"Why would we eat something we feed our livestock?"
Aside from feeling really dumb that I asked that question, I wondered why was the FDA was telling people to eat whole grains - like brown rice. If you are like me, you love sticky sushi rice - and wonder, if it's so bad for you, then why is Okinawa, Japan a blue zone?

The difference between brown rice and white rice is that brown rice is a whole grain, and white rice is not. (Wild rice is a whole grain, too). Brown rice still has its layer of bran and germ, two parts of the grain that are removed when processing white rice. Bran is a good source of fiber (think good food to keep you pooping regularly), and the germ has lots of great vitamins & minerals (B vitamins, manganese, selenium, and iron).
Both brown and white rice have the same amount of carbohydrates, and the same calories. So aside from the bran, and some vitamins, why does the FDA want us to eat what they're feeding their livestock in other countries?
Well to start, look around. 
I can name five people off the top of my head that are overweight or obese. 
How about you?
I can name another five that have high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. 
How about you?
I can name another five people that have Type 2 Diabetes. 
How about you?
All grains raise your blood sugar, they are carbohydrates, that's what carbs do. But some ...well, they raise your blood sugar slower. Those are the carbs that are high in fiber (bran), like whole grains, veggies, and most fruits. This is key if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, which by the way 50% of all Americans will be by 2020.
Fiber also helps your body pull out some fat (bile), which makes your body have to work harder to make more, This helps to lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight. Fiber in the whole grain brown rice can help Americans lower their cholesterol (102 million Americans 20 years and older have high cholesterol), and because it does not cause the spikes in blood sugar, it can keep you feeling fuller longer, which can also help maintain weight.
With 75% of Americans being overweight or obese, 
I get why the FDA recommends eating whole grain brown rice.
We may go for a run, and go to the gym, but for the most part, Americans are not as active as some people who can afford to eat white rice in the rest of the world. Aside from that, we are constantly bombarded with foods that are processed, genetically modified, high in fat, and low in nutrients. Food is big business, and these companies are in business, to stay in business, not to see you maximize your health!
Okay, I'll get off my soap box ....
You can look up lots of recipes with brown rice on the Internet. Right off the bat, when I Googled, I found 17 interesting brown rice recipes from Martha Stewart, but here's one that I have used for years, as a mom pressed for time.
Half-Crazed Quick Rice & Chicken Dinner
1 Box of Organic Brown Rice Pilaf (has par-boiled brown rice for 20 minute cooking time)
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound of frozen package of vegetables, or can (washed to lower the salt) of beans, or Le Suer peas
1 pound of chicken breast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes.

While the rice is cooking, according to the directions on the box, I saute the onion in the olive oil in a large skillet. Next, I add the chicken to the skillet, and cook thoroughly. When the rice is almost completely cooked, I add a package of frozen vegetables (corn, peas, mixed), or a can of the sweet french peas, or a can of beans. When the rice and veggies are finished cooking, I pour them into the large skillet with my onion and chicken, and mix. Serve with a side salad, and you have a great quick, "OMG Mom has no time to cook a meal", for at least four people. We usually have leftovers, which I pack for lunch for the next day, another time-saver.

If you have more time, you can prepare and use fresh veggies, instead of frozen. If you have some left over white wine, substitute some of the water with wine to cook your rice, and add some fresh mushrooms to your onion saute.
Do you eat brown rice?
Have any brown rice recipes to share?
Fun Rice Facts:
* Rice is naturally gluten free.
* Rice is grown on every continent, except Antartica!
* Rice is second in production to corn, but the number one in contribution to human food!
* Rice comes in three sizes: long, medium, and short. Short rice has a certain kind of starch (amylopectin) that makes it sticky - better for eating with chopsticks! Sushi, anyone?
* Thailand, Vietnam, India and the United States are the top 4 rice-exporting countries in the world!
* France eats about 10 pounds of rice per person per year. Americans eat around 26 pounds of rice per person per year. Asians eat about 300 pounds of rice per person per year. United Arab Emirites eat about 450 pounds of rice per person per year! Whew!
Train Smart Today!
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