Since the initial sweep of the grocery stores amidst COVID-19, rice remains a hard-to-find item. But why? It has a long shelf-life, is rich in carbohydrates (the body’s preferred energy source), and is pretty versatile. These characteristics, among others, create the thought process that if we are stocked up on rice, we feel ready for anything.
Here are some information and ways to put rice to good use or have in your back pocket when you can get your hands on some.
Which Rice is Right?
- Instant Rice: Instant rice has been parboiled or partially cooked, then dried. This makes it a quick convenient option if you are in a time crunch, but the texture will be different. Packages will usually include microwave and stove-top instructions.
- Traditional dry rice: This is likely the most inexpensive option depending on the variety. With a slightly longer cooking time, dry rice yields fabulous texture and is often made on the stove top, or in a rice or pressure cooker.
- Pre-Made Rice Sides: Many products are sold pre-made such as Spanish rice or broccoli cheddar. Although they can be delicious, watch out for the added sodium such dishes carry. Many have around 25% of our daily sodium recommendation per cup. Yikes!
Long Grain, Short Grain, Whole Grain
If you are interested in the more nitty-gritty details, here we go! Not all rice is equal. Different varieties can produce different results. Two of the types of starch in rice are amylose and amylopectin. All varieties of rice have both, but the different ratios change the texture pretty dramatically.
Short-grain rice has more amylopectin, which results in a more sticky rice with a chewier texture. This is great for dishes like sushi, cold salads, or anything eaten with chopsticks.
Long-grain rice has a higher content of amylose which causes it to cook up into more separate, individual grains. Long grain rice becomes hard when chilled, and doesn’t get soft again unless reheated. Examples of long grain include basmati and jasmine rice. This works well with warm side dishes such as pilafs.
Another choice to consider is white rice vs. brown rice. Brown rice is a whole grain, while white rice is refined. Brown has the naturally occurring fiber, vitamins, and minerals of the grain, while white rice has been stripped of them. Brown rice is more dense with nutrients, takes a little longer to cook, and has a heartier, chewier texture. In the dish you’re creating, think about your priorities of nutrition, time, and texture to make the best choice.
Quick Quarantine Cuisine
There is an infinite amount of rice recipes on the internet, but here are some simple go-to’s you can throw together. No recipe needed!
- Fried Rice: Scramble an egg then combine with cooked rice, frozen veggie blends, and soy sauce. Optional add-ins: green onions, sesame oil, edamame, and sesame seeds
- Cajun Red Beans and Rice: Combine cooked rice with red kidney beans and cajun seasoning. Optional add-ins: Sauteed celery, onion, and bell pepper
- Latin Black Beans and Rice: Combine cooked rice with black beans, taco seasoning, and frozen corn. Optional add-ins: cilantro, lime juice, avocado, and bell pepper
- Grain Breakfast Parfait: Cook rice according to instructions using 100% apple juice instead of water, then combine with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt. Optional add-ins: chia seeds, slivered almonds, and coconut flakes
Whether you’re experiencing an abundance or a scarcity in the amount of rice in your pantry, Think outside the box! Rice can be a blank slate for a great variety of flavors and dishes. Many of the meal ideas above could easily be adapted for quinoa, farro, or other grains you can find in stock in our aisles.
For additional ideas or to talk to one of our nutrition professionals (Registered Dietitian Nutritionists) one-on-one, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.