The History of Rice

Welcome to your first and only history lesson on rice!

Rice is believed to have been a source of food for the Chinese from approximately 2500BC! Starting from China, rice was spread all throughout the world and is now a main food source for half the worlds population. China is still the worlds number one rice producer however it is not the worlds top exporter. That title goes to our friends in Thailand.

This is Pineapple rice, another great export of Thaliand.

The grain is so versatile that it is able to grow in the harsh dessert conditions of the Middle East! This is pretty surprising since we commonly associate rice with waterlogged fields. Contrary to popular belief, rice fields don’t actually need to be swamped with water. However, it does help with growth and weed control.

Even rice fields look pretty.

The two most popular strains of rice we have now are Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima. The former is also known as asian rice while the latter is known as African rice. Interestingly, the only continent rice is not grown on these days is the Antarctic.

Antarctica makes up for lack of rice with loads of cute animals!

Rice is a popular feature in the folklore of many cultures. Ever wondered why rice is thrown at some weddings? Well, if you didn’t did you know that rice is thrown at some weddings! It’s because rice is a symbol of life and fertility! Great things in a marriage.

Guess the missing element in this relationship…..it’s rice.

These days I feel like rice has taken a backdrop to our lives.  Although we still depend on it the acquisition of rice is just a mere trip down to the store.  Don’t forget how special rice is!  Don’t forget all the hard work that has been put into getting the rice from the seed back onto your plate!  Take a moment to appreciate those special grains before you tucker down.  Respect the rice.

P.S.  If you’re interested in learning how to make some kick ass pineapple ricehead over to Gimme Some Oven!  or don’t, just miss out on a great rice dish.  Try it though, it’s seriously good stuff.


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Healthy Rice

For a staple food consumed by most of the world I think most people know surprisingly little about the nutritional content of the grain.  So how healthy is rice?  Well it’s definitely not unhealthy, as for how healthy it is, that depends on the strain you’re eating!  Rice comes in many varieties, brown, white, black, red and even purple!

“Purple Rice”
“Purple Rice”
“Purple Rice”
“I only wanted to see you beneath the purple rice”

Just so I don’t look completely insane that was a Prince reference.  Anyway, lets start with white rice.  When you remove the husk, bran and germ layers from brown rice you get white rice, the most common type of rice.  White rice is basically just little packets of calories.  Most of the calories from white rice come from carbohydrates.

Brown rice has about 3x the fibre of white rice however we’re talking about small amounts of fibre here so it’s not really life changing.  Apart from the fibre, brown rice also has higher levels of phosphorus and magnesium, both nutrients used for bone enrichment.  The nutrients don’t stop there though, brown rice also has higher amounts of selenium and manganese, antioxidants.

By itself rice is an incomplete protein however, when paired with other dishes such as beans or peanuts you’ll be able to form complete proteins!  Great for muscle growth.

He looks like he eats rice

Unfortunately there is a downside to rice.  Rice has a high glycemic index which means the carbs from rice get converted into sugars quickly which means a sharp rise in blood sugar levels.  This can be bad for your heart, kidneys and eyes but it is especially bad for people with type 2 diabetes.  Luckily for us brown rice has much lower glycemic values which typically fall between 48 – 62.  On the contrary the glycemic index of white rice typically falls between 72 and 83.  A value above 70 is considered high.

I’d like to bring us back to one of my favourite strains, basmati.  I’ve spoken about how awesome this strain is but it also has a glycemic index of 53!  53!  No need to give up white rice any time soon if you’re worried about glycemic indexes, just have some basmati.

Have fun with your rice!


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Spinach and Mushroom Risotto

A risotto recipe! Great use for that leftover spinach.

Bon AppeTeek

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I apologize in advance for this rant: I HATE how some bags of fresh spinach go bad quickly.  If there is one leaf in the pre-washed bag that is wet the rest of the spinach will start to wilt in no time.  I always double-check the bag at the grocery store to determine whether the leaves look too damaged in hopes of preventing the spinach from going bad quickly.  Thankfully we eat a lot of produce (side, smoothies, salads, snacks) and wilting spinach is not a problem I encounter often.  If the spinach starts to get “mushy” (technical term) I usually add it to my smoothie or make creamed spinach.  The thing I hate more than veggies that don’t stay fresh is wasting food.  So I get creative with my uses of wilted spinach.  A friend had posted a picture of creamy kale risotto a while back and I determined…

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Rice flan with apple.

Another ingenious use of rice!

Rose's Little Garden

Autumn is apple-season, so I’m using them in as many recipes as I can. Today I want to share something with you that’s a little different. I’m making a rice flan with apples! I’m hoping you’ll like it, because I absolutely adore this recipe!

Leeeeeet’s go!

What you’ll need: 

Ingredients:
-150 grams of rice (preferably the kind you use for sushi, but plain rice is alright too)
-Milk (you’ll see how much you need in the recipe itself! :))
-210 grams of vanilla sugar
-25 grams of butter
-4 eggs, split
-500 milliliters of water
-500 grams of apples (that’s around 5/7 apples), peeled and cut into pieces

Extra’s:
-A bowl
-A mixer
-A measuring cup
-Two pans
-A springform (or baking dish, whichever you prefer)

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Now let’s get going!

Step one:
Preheat your oven to 200℃ (392ºF) and put baking paper in your springform.

Step two: 
Wash your rice…

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Burrito Rice

One of the great things about rice is its ability to mesh with pretty much anything you throw in with it! Check out this interesting take on the humble grain.

foodbydad

BurritoRice FoodbyDadWe all have those weeks where things just keep coming up, the house is a mess, there’s no food in the fridge and even if there was you don’t have the energy to create a masterpiece. Wednesday and Thursday are our busy afternoons and it is always on my mind that I need to have quick easy recipes ready so the kids can get to bed on time and I can finally sit down. Mexican is one of my go to cuisines for tasty quick meal ideas, I love playing with different ingredients (well mostly the same ingredients used differently). About 8 months ago, while exploring some Asian recipes, I discovered chicken rice (which is rice cooked in chicken stock). Steamed chicken breast, chicken rice and Asian greens is another go to tasty quick recipe that has been kid tested, but I will get to that in another post. Anyway…

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The perfect bowl of rice, from your rice cooker.

Who doesn’t like a perfect bowl of rice, the steam coming off it, the smell, the perfectly fluffed up grains.  I could go on but why don’t I just show you how to make the perfect bowl of rice!

ARE YOU READY?!

Rice is a simple dish to cook but it’s a hard one to master.  Their kind of like eggs, just about everyone can fry an egg but you see, there’s a difference between frying an egg and frying an egg.  The latter, in bold, is the kind of fried egg which makes you say, “DAMN! This is some good fried egg!”

DAMN! That looks like some good fried egg!

On to the real stuff, how exactly do you make the perfect bowl of fried rice?  Well, that depends on what you’re using.  Now whether or not you’re using a rice cooker or not it’s recommended you thoroughly wash your rice if you don’t want the grains to stick together.  Make sure you wash the rice until the water becomes clear!

Rice Cooker

Full-time rice cooker

Rice cookers are simple enough.  Put in the amount of rice, fill it up with water then flick the switch.  The trick with using a rice cooker is finding the perfect water to rice ratio.  One method is to stick your hand in, washed of course, and fill up the cooker with water until it covers your hand.  Of course, different kinds of rice will use different amounts of water.  Brown rice needs more water than white rice while long grain rice needs more water than short grain.

The best way to perfect your rice in a rice cooker is to cook more rice!  Learn how your rice cooker responds to you.  Respect the rice cooker and it will respect you.

Snoop loves rice too.

Anyway, stay tuned for part two where we’ll talk about cooking rice on your stove!


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Washing your rice, yay or nay?

I grew up in a house where we washed our rice before cooking it.  Now I thought this was normal until I went to a friends place and to my surprise they just stuck it straight into the cooker and switched it on!

Just wow

So that got me thinking, why the hell do we wash our rice.  Won’t all the bad stuff just die when we cook it, and anyway, it’s rice, what could possibly be in there that would want to harm me.  Plus, I don’t think people in Africa would waste water washing rice after trekking across the land for water.

Fellow rice lovers, before I teach you how to cook the perfect bowl of rice, I must first address this issue.  Do we really need to wash our rice?

Firstly, what exactly is all that white powder in a bag of rice.  Well, the answer is actually pretty simple.  When the rice is hulled some of the actual grain might be milled a long with the husk.  Now while the husk will get sifted out of the mixture the particles milled grain is too fine and so they get placed in the bag a long with the rice.

SIMPLE!

So, should we wash our rice?

Well that actually depends on what you intend to do with your rice after its cooked.

If you want your rice to be more separated/loose you’ll get better results if you wash your rice.  This is due to the removal of the rice powder which is essentially just starch.  The cooked powder will act like a glue, making the grains stick together.

Now, if you’re cooking a risotto on the other hand you want the rice to be nice and sticky.  Washing your rice in this situation would only make your risotto less tasty.  Still tasty, just less tasty.

Ta dah!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post!  Stay tuned for, “How to cook the perfect bowl of rice!”


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