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Rice is actually consumed in one form or another by half of the world’s population. Brown rice is indigenous to India. It was introduced to China more than 3,000 years B.C. Brown rice found its way to America around 1647, and now the United States is one of the largest exporters of rice. Although rice is grown in more than 100 countries, 95 percent of the world’s rice is grown and consumed in Asia.
One cup of cooked white rice contains a mere 205 calories and it contains no cholesterol. White rice is also a dietary source for a number of vitamins and minerals including thiamin, niacin, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
The health benefits of rice include providing instant energy, regulating bowel movements, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and slowing down the aging process. It also aids in skin care, boosts metabolism, regulates digestion, and helps to reduce high blood pressure. It can aid in weight loss, helps to boost the immune system, and is even thought to provide protection against cancer and heart disease.
White rice is still the most popular in the United States, although with the advent of healthier eating habits, brown rice is a close second. Brown rice does hold more nutritional value.
There are more than 40,000 varieties of rice with different shapes, sizes, and flavors. Types of rice include white, brown, rose, noodle, black pearl, red yeast, wild, jasmine, and sushi.
I have had a love of rice for many years now. Raising six children was a challenge as far as quick and easy yet nutritious meals went. Rice was the one thing that everyone liked and it was really easy to add a few ingredients to make it a hearty and filling side dish. And, if there were leftovers, which seldom happened, they made another meal the next day for the children who were still at home. It was also an easily digestible staple to have on hand when anyone was home sick. Mixed with a little chicken and broth, it helped the healing process along nicely.
Here are a few ideas to spice up any type of rice.
- Italian style: Add diced tomatoes, a pinch of dried basil and oregano to the cooked rice, and stir in a jar of spaghetti sauce. Heat and eat.
- BLT style: Stir shredded lettuce and diced fresh tomatoes into cooked rice just before serving. Top with crumbled cooked bacon or substitute bacon bits.
- Chutney rice: Add ½ cup chopped chutney to four cups of hot cooked rice.
- Beefy rice: Substitute beef bouillon for part of the water when preparing rice.
- Middle Eastern rice: Brown one medium chopped onion in 4 tablespoons of butter before stirring in the raw rice and cooking liquid. When done, stir in toasted coconut, raisins, and chopped peanuts or pine nuts.
- Curried rice: Substitute chicken broth for water and stir in one teaspoon of curry powder and one cup of diced raw apple for each cup of raw rice.
- Oriental rice: Saute green onions in sesame oil in a skillet or wok and stir in cooked rice, slices of canned water chestnuts, and soy sauce. Pour one lightly beaten egg over the top and toss with chopsticks to blend.
- California rice salad: Mix leftover cooked rice with chopped green peppers, radishes, celery, scallions, capers, and olives. Toss with vinaigrette dressing and chill.
- Mexican style: Brown chopped fresh or frozen sweet red and green peppers in butter or margarine and stir in a teaspoon or more to taste, chili powder, and add two cups of raw rice and cooking liquid. Just before serving, toss with grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.