Truth is, rice is a big part of meals in every corner of the globe. Archaeological evidence suggests rice has been feeding mankind for more than 5,000 years. The first documented account is found on a decree about rice planting, that was authorized by a Chinese emperor about 2,800 BC. From China to ancient Greece, Persia to the Nile River Delta, rice has migrated across continents and eventually found its way to the western hemisphere. Cultivation and cooking methods are thought to have spread to the west rapidly and by medieval times, southern Europe saw the introduction of rice.
- LONG: Long slender kernels which produce light, fluffy rice.
- MEDIUM: Short, wide kernels which are moist and tender when cooked.
- SHORT: Short, round kernels which are soft and cling together when boiled.
Some popular varieties are:
- Arborio: Large tan starchy grains with white dots in the center, similar in size to medium grain white rice. Arborio is most often used in risotto because of its creamy, chewy texture.
- Waxy: Also known as "sweet"or "sticky" rice, kernels are short and plump, and produce a thick, starchy product when cooked. Sticky rice is most often used for sushi and desserts, poultry stuffing, and in dumplings.
- Basmati: An aromatic rice, has a nut-like fragrance, and light texture.
- Jasmine: A soft-textured long grain aromatic rice both brown and white varieties.
- Bhutanese Red Rice: Grown in the Himalayas, this red colored rice has a nutty taste.
- Forbidden Rice: A black colored rice that turns purple upon cooking. It has a sweet taste and sticky texture.
Vitamins and dietary minerals that are lost in this removal process, have to be synthetically re-added, or fortified to white rice, or the FDA won't allow it to be sold as food. Red rice, comes in a variety of forms. Some cultivars are short grained and very sticky, while others are long-grained. Red rice is grown in Europe, Southeast Asia, and the American South. When red rice is cooked, the natural red color in the bran, or hull of the rice, leaches out and dyes the rest of the dish red to pink. Red rice is high in fiber, because of the bran, and the flavor is much stronger than that of hulled rice, tasting more nutty and full. Red rice can be served with a variety of foods or eaten on its own. Black rice, also known as purple rice, or forbidden rice. Legend has it that this Chinese black rice got its name because it was so nutritionally beneficial that only the emperors were allowed to eat it. Varieties include but are not limited to Indonesian black rice and Thai jasmine black rice. Black rice is high in nutritional value and is a source of iron, vitamin E, and antioxidants, more than in blueberries. The bran hull (outermost layer) of black rice contains one of the highest levels of anthocyanin antioxidants found in food. The grain has a similar amount of fiber to brown rice and like brown rice, has a mild, nutty taste. In China, black rice is claimed to be good for the kidney, stomach and liver.
Recent research conducted by Andrew Mehanrg and colleagues from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland has found that rice grown in the U.S. contains from 1.4 to 5 times more arsenic than rice from Europe, India or Bangladesh. The U.S. is currently reviewing all arsenic-based pesticides. So my advise as always is to choose organically grown rice whenever possible. For any crop to be labeled as organic, including rice, stringent testing of soils for contaminants, including arsenic, must be passed. Limiting that white rice intake, and opting for the more nutritious brown, black, or red, will put you on the path to better health. Before cooking rice, especially when you buy it in bulk, rinse it thoroughly under running water and then remove any dirt or debris that you may find. After rinsing brown rice, add one part rice to two parts boiling water. After the liquid has returned to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes. Make no mistake though brown is just as starchy as white and we know starchy sugars make you fat, bloat you, and raise insulin levels and all that causes inflammation which can lead to many health problems. So limit your starches, and increase your health benefits. When you eat rice, try the brown, black, or red varieties. Good Luck...
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