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Jazzing Up Rice

Here's how to break your routine and add some pizzazz to your diet by exploring the many different types of rice and ways to use them.

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Have a great, gluten-free morning with Nature’s Path Whole O’s, an organic whole-grain corn-and-rice cereal just added to the company’s line of gluten-free, organic products. These tasty O’s are made with all-natural ingredients and sweetened with just a touch of pomegranate juice for a more grown-up taste, but your kids will love them too! They’ re free of artificial preservatives and additives, GMOs, and synthetic pesticides. They’re a great way to start your day, and a great way to get healthful whole grains into your diet-something that’s not always easy to do if you’re gluten intolerant.

Bored with eating plain brown or white rice? Falling into a rut by repeatedly preparing the same old rice is a common problem for gluten-free eaters. The monotony may seem necessary to eat safe foods, but fortunately, gluten-free life doesn’ t have to be so boring. There’s a whole world of gluten-free rice out there and many different ways to flavor it. Try these tips to shake things up, explore new horizons, and treat your taste buds to new tastes and variety.

Simmer-in flavor. Use a gluten-free broth, such as Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth or Organic Vegetable Broth, instead of water to cook rice. Simmering rice in broth is an easy way to make rice pilaf without extra work. You can also crush two to four cloves of garlic and simmer with your rice until the water starts to be absorbed.

“Veg” out and go nuts. Sauté assorted vegetables or nuts in olive oil, butter, or macadamia nut oil, and add into cooked rice. Try mushrooms and shallots; celery, onions, and slivered almonds; spinach, garlic, sliced artichoke hearts, and pine nuts-the combinations you can create are endless.

Sauce it up. For completely different tastes, top rice with or mix in gluten-free pasta sauce, pesto, wheat-free tamari, or a coconut curry sauce.

Explore the world of rice. The world of rice abounds with a lot more than the familiar basmati and brown rices. Try each of these different types of whole-grain rice with their own special taste:

  • Bhutanese Red Rice: Grown in Bhutan, in the eastern Himalayas, this rice from Lotus Foods has a mild, nutty/earthy, slightly sweet flavor. It is semimilled, meaning some of the reddish pigment in the bran that is formed by minerals in the soil is left on the rice. It cooks in just 20 minutes.
  • Forbidden Rice: The trademarked name for medium-grain Chinese black rice that was once grown exclusively for the emperors of China. It is rich in iron and has a fragrant aroma, nutty taste, and dramatic black to deep purple color. It’s now available certified organic from Lotus Foods. It cooks in 30 minutes.

  • Kalijira Rice: Grown in Bangladesh, brown kalijira is a tiny aromatic brown rice that is low on the glycemic index, meaning it provokes a lower blood sugar response than most other rices. It is one of Lotus Foods’s best sellers. It cooks in 25 minutes.
  • Jasmine Rice: An aromatic long-grain organic rice originally from Thailand but now also grown in the United States and sold by Lotus Foods and Lundberg Family Farms. It contains 10 percent rice bran that gives the rice a light tan color and it has an aroma and flavor that is similar to popcorn or roasted nuts. It cooks in 45 minutes.
  • Wehani Rice: Developed by Lundberg Family Farms, this fragrant rice is a reddish-brown hybrid of Indian basmati and long-grain brown rice. It cooks in 45 minutes.
  • Black Japonica Rice: An aromatic blend of Japanese short-grain black rice and medium-grain mahogany rice developed by Lundberg Family Farms. It cooks in 45 minutes.
  • Wild Rice: The seed of a long-grain marsh grass that grows wild in isolated lake and river beds primarily in North America and also in similar regions in some parts of Asia. Lower in calories and carbohydrates than most other rices, it has a distinctive nutty flavor and chewy texture and is often used with other types of rice or other ingredients in rich and hearty gourmet dishes. It cooks in 45 to 50 minutes.

Greek Spinach and Rice
Serves 8

This dish works well when made with long-grain or short-grain brown rice, but it tastes equally delicious when made with lower-glycemic brown kalijira rice. Perfect to serve with a spring or Easter meal, it goes nicely with fish, shrimp, chicken, or lamb.

Adapted from a recipe for Greek Spinach and Rice in Healthier Holidays Going Against the Grain, by Melissa Diane Smith.

1¾ cups gluten-free chicken broth

1 cup kalijira rice

2 Tbs. organic extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

5 cups baby spinach leaves

Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Bring chicken broth and rice to a boil in pan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook rice until done, about 25 minute.
  2. Heat oil in wok or deep frying pan over medium heat. Sauté onion until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach leaves, and stir quickly to lightly cook.
  3. Add onion-spinach mixture and lemon juice to cooked rice; mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste and squirt with extra lemon juice, if desired.