Have you tried brown rice yet? You should


If you haven’t taken the leap and tried brown rice, you are in for a treat. Brown rice has a nutty flavor and a chewier texture than white rice. The 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.

Brown rice contains almost 2 grams of dietary fiber and just over 100 calories per half-cup. 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, you can 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 more than one meal. 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. According to the USA Rice Federation, 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. After cooked rice has cooled in the refrigerator, transfer it to plastic freezer bags in quantities needed for future meals. Label with the date and quantity. Promptly refrigerate extra cooked rice in shallow containers which allow the rice to cool faster. 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. Brown rice is available in three sizes according to the USA Rice Federation, www.usarice.com.

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. If no directions are available, they suggest the following methods:

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

Sources: University of Vermont, USA Rice Federation, NC Department of Health and Human Services

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Broccoli Brown Rice Pilaf

1 cup uncooked brown rice

2 ¼ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth

2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups chopped fresh broccoli

¼ cup slivered almonds

¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, saute rice until lightly browned. Add the broth, rosemary and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until rice is almost tender.

Stir in broccoli, almonds, sunflower seeds, salt and pepper. Cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes longer or until rice is tender and broccoli is crisp-tender. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Sandra R. Cain is the Bladen County Extension director. She can be reached at sandra_cain@ncsu.edu or 910-862-4591.

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