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Cooking With Grains: Brown Rice

Rice is a staple worldwide. Originating in China, rice spread throughout Asia, India, Greece, Spain, France, South America and the rest of the world. Rice provides up to 50 percent of calories for half of the world’s population.

While white rice may be more common, opt for brown rice: unmilled and unpolished, it takes longer to cook, but it is by far the nutritional superior, retaining the outer bran and germ layers of the grain and the vitamins, minerals, fiber and even fatty acids that are housed there. One of the nutrients that brown rice is highest in is manganese, with one cup cooked brown rice providing almost 90 percent of the Daily Value. Manganese is a mineral that aids in fatty acid synthesis and protects against free radical damage during energy production. The oil found in the bran of brown rice has also been shown to have special cholesterol-lowering benefits. Like white rice, brown rice comes in an array of varieties such as basmati, jasmine and long- and short-grain.

Other whole-grain rice varieties include Bhutanese red rice and forbidden black rice – these colorful varieties are worth trying, as they have higher levels of heart-healthy antioxidants. Generally, the longer the grain, the less sticky and starchy the texture; so long-grain rice is ideal for lighter pilaf-type dishes while short-grain rice is used for sushi. Basmati and jasmine rice, from India and Thailand respectively, are fluffy and aromatic – wonderful alongside ethnic dishes such as curries and stir-fries. Rice of all types is completely gluten-free, hypoallergenic (low-allergy) and gentle on the digestion. Because the natural oils in its bran and germ can go rancid, brown rice should be stored in the pantry for no longer than six months.

Cooking time: Basmati, 35-40 minutes, long/short-grain, 45-50 minutes

Liquid per cup of grain: 2 1/4 cups

How to cook brown rice: Place rice and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for up to 45 minutes (basmati, jasmine, and other long-grain varieties generally require less cooking time). Fluff with a fork before serving.

Try this recipe with brown rice: Mediterranean Stuffed Grape Leaves