Diva by Christiane Vleugels
Before I started my vegan foods adventure, I was super ignorant about the jaw-dropping diversity that exists in the plant-based food world. And I say this as someone who switched to a vegetarian diet at age sixteen, thirteen lucky years ago, and dabbled a tiny bit in vegan eating every now and then – so I already had a vague idea that there is more to vegan eating that tofu and smugness.
I can’t imagine the shock that people transitioning from an animal-based diet must feel when the meat-and-cheese veil gets pulled back. Holy crap.
Wholegrains are just a small part of this huge world of food, and they are a diverse group in their own right. This is the first in what will be an intermittent series about specific grains and the body-loving greatness that lays therein.
Today: RICE TIME. Read on to learn why rice is so rad. There are a bunch of links to wholegrain rice recipes at the end of the post to give you some ideas and get you kick-started.
There are thousands of different kinds of rice* in the world, including red, black and even purple varieties. Purple! Awesome. The internet tells me that purple rice is also called “forbidden rice” which, makes me like it even more.
In my part of the world, we have access to a few different types of brown and white rice, and a handful of wild varieties. No matter what type of rice you use – white**, brown or wild – it is guaranteed to be low in sodium, fat and cholesterol, as well as being gluten-free and including a whole symphony of important trace minerals and vitamins. That’s a whole lotta bang right there.
This symphony of goodness is a lot larger with a wholegrain variety, though, which is one of the reasons eating a lot of them is such a good move. Making a point of eating wholegrains*** like brown rice puts a rocket under your nutrient intake – they have so much more of the good stuff in them.
Refining grains – stripping rice to make it white, for example – doesn’t remove all of the nutrients but it does destroy a bunch of the things that your body is craving. Rice-wise, this includes: folate, niacin, thiamin, magnesium, selenium, manganese and vitamins B1, B3 and B6. That’s a lot of stuff to be missing out on! Brown rice also has more protein and much, much more fiber than white rice does. So it is well worth incorporating into your routine.
My naturopath – who is also a herbalist, nurse and all around rad person – recommends brown basmati as the best.
It’s a staple in our pantry ♥
Brown basmati and brown jasmine are way more awesome taste wise than regular ol’ brown rice. If you have never been much of a brown rice eater, check out your local natural foods store or supermarket and pick up one of those two varieties. You might change your mind and your body will thank you for it!
I used to think that I hated brown rice – I think it was something to do with the health food stereotype, kinda chewy texture, and the fact that my mama isn’t a fan. Now that I have experimented and discovered a few different ways of making it work for me, I like brown rice a lot. The standard issue stuff is good, but brown basmati and brown jasmine are fucking sweet. Mmmm. As well as tasting better, they take less time to cook, which is awesome for people like me who can get impatient with longer cooking times!
Wild rice is a food group I am yet to really dive in to. Though it has a lower mineral count that brown rice, it does have more protein, fiber and iron. It is quite chewy – more chewy than brown rice – and has a nutty flavour that lends itself well to fresh, simple desserts. One of my friends makes an awesome dish by combining cooked wild rice and sweetened coconut milk, served with slices of fresh mango. Easy, delicious and full of the right kind of goodness.
At the moment, my favourite ways to eat rice at home are as a base for an easy old school stir fry, or wrapped around fresh vegetables in a creamy, herb-infused baked dish.
Here are some recipes from around the food web that use wholegrain rices in other tempting, tasty ways:
Carefree curry burgers @ Post Punk Kitchen
Sushi bowl @ 101 Cookbooks
Stuffed eggplants with garlic sauce @ Gourmandelle
Creole jambalaya with tempeh @ A Profound Hatred of Meat
Grilled tofu with pineapple salsa and coconut rice @ Oh She Glows
Asparagus, avocado & pecan rice salad with pesto dressing @ The Perfect Pantry
Wild rice salad with oranges and roasted beets @ Post Punk Kitchen
Deconstructed falafel salad @ Bittersweet
Creamy vegan broccoli & rice casserole @ Fat Free Vegan
Black bean and butternut squash burritos @ Oh She Glows
* Rice varieties according to Wiki. Woah.
** White rice – and brown, to a slightly lesser degree – can be dyed an excellent shade of pink by adding a shot or two of beetroot while cooking. Just sayin’ ♥
*** Other wholegrains calling your name include: quinoa, amaranth, barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, spelt, kasha (toasted buckwheat), rye and bulgur.