Health Notes #21

Brown Rice-What's so good about it?

In the 19th century, millers in the Far East discovered that they could remove the outer layers of brown rice and polish the grain to a gleaming whiteness. The people thought the new rice was so appealing in taste and texture that it soon replaced brown rice on many tables.

What began to happen was very interesting. People started getting digestive complaints, weakness and unpleasant tingling sensations in the hands and feet. It was discovered that they had a disease called beriberi. People couldn't understand why the poor who could not afford white rice were not suffering from beriberi. Eventually, scientists determined that the missing substance in the white rice which resulted in beriberi was thiamine, or vitamin B1.

In every country where rice constituted the main part of each meal, the disease was almost universal during the years when white rice replaced brown rice in the diet.

These days white rice is enriched with the three leading B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin and niacin). But other nutritional goodies that brown rice naturally contains are not replaced in the enriched white rice.

When it is polished, the germ and the bran are removed, taking with them protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The rest of the rice is almost entirely starch. The bran and polishings contain most of the protein in the original grain, along with immense amounts of phosphorous and potassium, astonishing amounts of iron, and more of the B vitamins than any other food except wheat germ and nutritional yeast. One cup of rice bran contains almost 2 mg. of thiamine (B1 ), nearly 30 mg of niacin (B3 ), and 16 mg of iron.

Rice bran is an excellent source of fiber, either alone or as a part of the whole grain. Rice grits are produced when brown rice has been cracked coarsely.

My favorite way to have brown rice is just plain as a breakfast cereal adding a handful of raisins and pouring a little nut milk on top.

Here are some other recipes that I have tried and think you will like, too.

Spinach Bake

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen spinach or fresh
3 c. cooked rice
2 to 3 c. cheese sauce
1/4 c. chopped onion

Mix well. Place in a greased baking dish. Bake at 350o F for about 1 hour.

Cheese Sauce

2 c. water
3 T. lemon juice
1/2 c. yeast flakes
1/3 c. quick oats
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 T. onion powder
1/4 c. tahini *
1-1/2 tsp. salt

Blend in a blender and mix with above. It is delicious as a bread spread but you must first cook in a saucepan until it is thickened.

* a seed butter made from sesame seeds. You may find this and yeast flakes at a health food store.

Hawaiian Sweet and Sour

1 can chunk pineapple, drained
1 onion and 1 large pepper (Saute slightly)
1 c. tomato sauce
1/4 c. each lemon juice and honey
1 T. cornstarch added to drained pineapple juice
1-2 cups firm tofu cut into chunks
2 T. soy sauce sprinkled over the chunks

Stir tofu and soy sauce very carefully, then bake in a 350o F oven for 15 minutes. This will firm it up even more and help the flavor to bake in. Bring to a boil all but the cornstarch mixture and tofu. Stir in cornstarch and heat until thickened. Add the tofu to the rest just before serving stirring only slightly so the tofu doesn't break apart. Serve over rice.

Creamy Rice Breakfast Pudding

2 c. cooked brown rice
1-1/2 c. soy milk
1/2 c. almonds (chopped)
1/2 c. raisins
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 T. honey (opt.)
1/4 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. grated lemon or orange rind.

Mix well. Pour into sprayed 8 X 8 pan. Bake at 350o F for 45 minutes.

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