(BPT) - You've had it fried, boiled and 'puddinged.' You've savored it in many varieties, including long-grain brown and white. So you think you know rice? Think again - when it comes to a versatile, nutritionally valuable complex carbohydrate, rice is a stand-out in the world of great grains.
'Rice is a staple of life for half the world's population,' says Anne Banville, a vice president for the USA Rice Federation. 'Around the world, families consume rice daily as an important energy-providing ingredient of their diet. In the U.S., it's been a pantry staple for side and main dishes for generations, and each year in September we celebrate the harvest of more than 20 billion pounds of U.S.-grown rice during National Rice Month.'
You may think you know everything there is to know about this widely used grain, but here are a few surprising and fun facts you may not have heard:
1. It's the most versatile grain. Sure you can do a lot with other grains, but when it comes to versatility and ease of use, rice is tops. Time-honored products like Minute(R) Rice and Success(R) Rice make cooking rice the easiest part of your meal prep. Minute Ready to Serve Rice, available in varieties including Whole Grain Brown, Brown & Wild, Multi-Grain Medley, White and more, is fully-cooked and heats in a microwave in just 60 seconds, making it an ideal portable lunch option. For a quick and easy weeknight meal, Success Rice - in Brown, White, Jasmine and Basmati varieties - yields perfectly cooked rice in just 10 minutes, plus it's pre-measured in its convenient boil-in-bags. To learn more, visit www.minuterice.com or www.successrice.com.
2. Rice offers health benefits depending on which variety you choose. Brown rice, for example, is a 100 percent whole grain and research shows that whole grains may help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer if eaten in a well-balanced diet. Rice eaters also consume more vital nutrients and a lower percentage of calories from fat and saturated fat, according to a Tufts University study. Plus, for people with gluten intolerance, rice is a great grain choice because it is naturally gluten free.
3. You may already know that rice is a complex carbohydrate that helps boost mental and muscular function. But did you know that rice delivers more than 15 essential nutrients, including B-vitamins, iron, zinc and folic acid?
4. Cutting back on fat and calories? Rice is naturally low in fat. What little fat it does contain is the 'good' kind - not the trans fats or saturated fats associated with elevated cholesterol. What's more, rice is great for calorie counting and portion control; a one-cup, single serving has just 100 calories.
5. Rice can make you happier - really! Eating something delicious can make you happy, but carbohydrates like rice also trigger production of serotonin in your brain, according to MIT research. The hormone is known to boost mood and help reduce your appetite. Plus, when you opt for fool-proof versions like Minute Rice or Success Rice, you can pat yourself on the back for serving something easy to make and nutritionally rewarding. Who wouldn't feel good about that?
Finally, rice's versatility makes it a perfect ingredient in a wide range of cuisines, and for virtually every meal of the day. Try these two simple and tasty recipes and start incorporating this great grain into your diet:
Honey-Ginger Baked Salmon with Brown Rice
Makes four servings.
2 bags Success(R) Brown Rice
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced
4 salmon fillets (4 ounces each)
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
Prepare rice according to package directions.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine orange juice, soy sauce, honey, garlic and ginger. Cook over medium heat for one minute. Reserve 2/3 cup marinade.
Place remaining marinade and salmon fillets into a plastic zippered bag and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Remove salmon from marinade, place on aluminum foil-lined baking pan and bake for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, return 2/3 cup reserved marinade to small saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat for five minutes or until syrupy. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute red bell pepper two minutes. Add peppers to cooked rice.
Remove salmon from oven and serve over rice. Top with sauce and garnish with green onions.
Brown and Wild Rice and Sausage
Makes one serving.
1 cup Minute(R) Ready to Serve Brown & Wild Rice
1/4 cup cooked, crumbled sausage (For a lighter version, use low-fat turkey sausage.)
2 tablespoons roasted red pepper, chopped
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
Prepare rice according to package directions. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine sausage, red pepper and spinach. Microwave one minute. Stir in rice. Top with cheese.