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Rice, rice, rice, and more rice.

Posted Apr 01 2009 2:44pm

I will never forget the day in my doctors office, just after I had had a blood test and was there to find out what was wrong with me.  She looked at me and told me she thought I had celiac disease and I couldn't eat wheat, barley or rye.  She looked at me and said, "You can eat rice, rice, rice and more rice".  At that time I did not understand what she was talking about.  Then I went shopping!  

Rice is the mainstay of a gluten free diet.  Of course, corn and potato are as well, but almost everything gluten free is made from rice....... bread, cookies, crackers, pasta.  I thought it might be nice to have a post just about rice. 

Rice comes from the seed of the Oryza Sativa plant which is a member of the grass family.  Did you know that rice can be grown almost anywhere?  The seed of the plant are milled to remove the husks and expose the grain.  That grain is commonly known as brown rice.  Brown rice is the whole grain without the bran removed.  Further milling removes the bran and gives us white rice.   

There are many, many varieties of rice and grain lengths.  There are long grain, medium or short grain rices.  Parboiled rice has been steamed, dried and then milled.  The grain is firm and tends to not stick together.  It has more nutrition than regular white rice.  Minute rice has been milled, fully cooked, then dried.  It tends to be fluffy.  Wild rice is not a true rice, but the grain of an aquatic grass native to Northern America.  

Other varieties of rice are:

  • Black rice which has a sweet spicy flavor. 
  • Red rice has a nutty flavor. 
  • Arborio has a medium grain, creamy texture and is used for risotto. 
  • Calrose also a medium grain, has a sticky texture and is great for sushi.
  • Basmati has the aroma of popcorn while cooking and has a fluffy texture.
  • Jasmine has both a floral aroma and flavor.  
As you can see there are lots of different kinds of rice to try.  So if you are stuck in a rice rut, I encourage you to try something other than what you are currently cooking with.  Rice is something you can get in a real rut with.  That just shouldn't happen because there are too many varieties and too many things you can do with rice.  It's endless!  My personal favorite rice is short grain brown.  I like it because it has the nutrients of having the bran intact, but the shorter grain makes it a little gummy and chewy.  

Let's start with cooking rice.  I have and highly recommend a rice cooker.   The brand I have is a Breville.  I am very happy with it.  It comes with some steamer baskets so I can also steam some veggies while I'm cooking the rice.  I like to cook mine using chicken stock, because it gives it some flavor.  You can use plain water or even vegetable stock if you wish.  The directions for my cooker never seem to have enough liquid when I make brown rice, so I check it often and almost always add extra liquid.  I have no special method for cooking rice on the stove top.  Just follow the directions on the bag. 

 My cooker will cook up to 10 cups of rice.  That's a lot of rice!  You might be think, what the heck do I do with that much rice?  I freeze it.  Rice freezes beautifully.  Many times, I will have a meal on Sunday that calls for rice.  I like it because I can feed a lot of people and I never know who will show up on Sunday.  I fill that sucker up and cook a huge batch.  Use what I need and freeze everything that's left.  Then I have rice all week that I can quickly pull out of my freezer, defrost and use.  It saves me so much time through the week!  

Now you might be thinking, what on earth do I do with that rice all week?  It's endless!  Rice is bland, therefore what ever up put with it will pretty much work.  In the morning, I like to add it to my scrambled eggs.  At lunch, you can makebeans and riceor put it in a burrito.  Of course there are the standard stir fries and casseroles you need rice for and soup!  Chicken and rice soup is one of my favorites.  

What about rice as a side dish?  Since I love rice, just plain rice, my favorite way is to sprinkle with a good quality olive oil and salt.  My husband would get tired of it that way, so I have many other ways.  None of these involve any real recipe and are quick and easy.  Using your imagination and your favorite ingredients it's easy to just make stuff up!  

Start with a skillet.  Add some sort of fat.  I like olive oil and butter.  Use how ever much you want.  If you are on a diet, use just enough for flavor and add water or broth to keep things moist after that.  Then I add my flavor base whether it be garlic, onions, nuts, veggies what ever.  Cook that till done and then add your rice.  Since there is no real recipe for this, just guess.  How many people are you cooking for and add that many 1/2 cups of rice.  That is about an average serving of rice.  Stir well until heated and bingo!  You're done!  

Here are some combinations I use:

Curry rice- base of onions, sliced almonds, curry, cilantro and raisins.  

Cranberry rice - base of onions, sliced almonds, dried cranberries

Pesto rice - base of garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, basil (or you could just throw in some pesto!)

Fried rice - onions, carrots, peas, eggs, gluten free soy sauce

Veggie rice - onions, garlic, broccoli, mushrooms, rosemary

The list could go on and on!  This definitely shakes up plain boring rice.  What are your favorite spices.  Maybe Mexican?  You could make salsa rice!  You get the picture.  Drop me a comment below and let me know what you do with rice.  If you are new to gluten free cooking and find yourself eating way more rice than you ever dreamed, hopefully you will get some new ideas!

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