Monday, February 18, 2008

In defense of carbs

Ten years ago, fat was the bane of dieters. Today, it's carbs.

But there are carbs, and there are carbs.

One one hand, you have Minute Rice, Ritz crackers, instant oatmeal, and white bread. And on the other hand, you have brown rice, Rye Krisps, steel-cut oats, and breads like Ezekiel Bread and Dave's Killer Bread.

The difference is whole grains and fiber. The high-fiber carbs are very filling and nutritious. Eaten with a little cheese or peanut butter, they're a whole meal.

Somewhat to my amazement, I've come to love brown rice. I cook a big pot of it every Monday morning, and live off it for the rest of the week. (See the brown rice recipe, below.)

Brown rice heated up with a little cinnamon and brown sugar and chopped apples makes a quick breakfast. Leftover baked chicken or leftover vegetables (or curry) can be mixed with brown rice for lunch. And brown rice pudding with currents makes a very good dessert or evening snack.

My favorite brown rice dish is brown rice pancakes. I mix cooked brown rice with lots of browned onions, eggs, a little potato flour (or regular flour) and a pinch of baking soda. Then I drop the batter by 1/4 measures into a frying pan with oil to make something very similar to potato pancakes.

It turns out there are many types of brown rice. I've been using the plain, large-grain brown rice. Here's the basic recipe:

• 2-1/3 cups of rice to 4 cups of water
• or 3 -1/2 cups of rice to 6 cups of water

Rinse the uncooked rice three times and drain well. Put the water on to boil in a separate saucepan. While waiting for the water to come to a boil, put two tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a heavy, tight-lidded sauce pan, then sauté the well-drained rice in the oil while you wait for the water to boil. Do this over fairly high heat. It has to be stirred constantly, otherwise it will scorch. This process coats the rice with the oil and evaporates the water from rinsing. The rice will begin to smell very nutty after a minute or two.

When the water in the other pan has come to a vigorous boil, pour it over the rice in the sauce pan. It is very important at this point not to stir the rice anymore, not even once. Let it come back up to a vigorous boil, put the lid on, turn it down as low as you can and cook for 45 minutes. During this time,
do not lift the lid or do anything else to it. When 45 minutes is up, turn off the heat and let the rice sit undisturbed for at least 15-20 minutes before serving.

(cross-posted on Food, Fitness, Fashion)


  1. Will brown rice work in my rice steamer?

    I use it to make rice for sushi rolls and to use with chicken, but I use calrose rice and am unsure if brown rice will cook properly.


  2. Dan, check out this recipe for brown rice in a rice cooker:

    The only caveat about rice cookers seems to be that you need to remove the brown rice can be sticky.