Posts Tagged ‘grains’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Rinsing Rice and Grains

August 8, 2017

When cooking rice and grains, most people just put them in a pot with the requisite liquid and follow the directions for cook time. There is a crucial step that is often over looked, and that is rinsing.

Rinsing grains dates back to a time and place when they weren’t processed and boxed like they are today. While most grains purchased in the USA aren’t considered toxic, they could benefit from a good rinse.

Rice: Giving rice a rinse takes off some of the surface starch, resulting in a less sticky end product. Many also notice debris in the rinse water, especially when the rice came from the bulk bins rather than a box. Imported rices, such as basmati and jasmine may have talc, or powdered glucose on them to make them appear cleaner looking. Looking cleaner, and being cleaner are two very different things, and it is advisable to rinse the talc off before cooking.

Other grains, such as quinoa, farro and barley benefit from a rinse, not only to remove debris, but to remove any saponins that may still linger. While domestically packaged quinoa has been treated to remove the dangerous coating, residual saponins are the source of the unpleasant and bitter flavor that sometimes occurs in cooking quinoa.

Rinse the grains either by running them under water in a fine mesh sieve, or by submerging them in cool water, straining them, and resubmerging them in fresh water until no more debris floats to the surface.

Soaking grains (and legumes) cuts down on the phytic acid, a compound which can make these foods harder to digest. Soaking also jumpstarts the process, cuts down on cooking time and tends to yield a better texture.

Taking the time to rinse grains is akin to taking the time to rinse vegetables. Well worth the extra few minutes for a safer, and better outcome.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: How To Pack A Mason Jar Salad

January 21, 2016

 

How-Make-Mason-Jar-SaladAhh, mason jars; Pinterest’s vessel of choice. While we are totally tired of seeing them as mugs, vases and other types of kitchsy decor, we still love them for what they were originally intended to be used for, which is hold food. They are recyclable, don’t have any BPA’s or other harmful chemicals in them, and can go into the freezer, refrigerator and microwave when the metal top is removed.
The glass jars are the perfect vehicle for storing soups and sauces, and grains. They also allow you make a salad complete with the dressing and not let it get soggy. You can actually pack a few lunches in advance, and store them in the fridge until you are ready to eat them. The trick is the order in which you layer the ingredients in the jar.

First, add the dressing. It might be a tablespoon or two, or even more, depending on how much dressing you like and how big the salad is.

Next, layer the heaviest ingredients on top of it, that will not absorb the dressing. This means items like carrots, cucumbers, celery, and beets.

Add any grains, pasta or beans on top of that.

Next up is the protein layer, containing any chicken, meat, fish, hard boiled eggs, tofu or cheese.  Don’t add these yet if the salad is going to sit for several days. We recommend adding it within 24 hours of eating for best, freshest results.

Any soft vegetables and fruits such as avocado, tomatoes, or berries go on next. Again, if you are keeping the salad for several days, add these at the last minute. Avocado or apple should be soaked in lemon juice to avoid it turning brown.

Add any nuts, croutons or seeds in the next layer, followed by a hefty helping of clean and well dried greens. Screw on the lid, pop it in the refrigerator and anticipate lunch!

Chopped Salad

When ready to eat the salad, give it a little shake and dump it into a bowl. The lettuce will be on the bottom, and the other items on top of it. The dressing will mix in as it is poured. Enjoy!

Photo: top: POPSUGAR

bottom: Glasshouse Images

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The Whole 30! (or Whole 33 +Counting )

July 31, 2015

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Tuesday marked the last day of my Whole 30 healthy eating challenge. I am glad that I pushed through the difficult moments and kept on track. The end results far outweigh the struggle. Most of the time, I found it pretty easy to stick with the plan, and I learned that there is almost always a way around poor eating if you are diligent.

Speaking of weight, I probably lost about 5-6 pounds in the course of a month, all of it in the first week or two. Although I didn’t have lots of weight to lose, I did want to get rid of the extra couple of pounds that were gathering around my midsection. With all of the gym time I log, I needed to clean up my diet to see some results. While quick and significant weight loss early on in a diet is generally water weight, there was a difference here. It may have been water, but this came off, and stayed off throughout the entire month. I think it was a result of all the bloat and inflammation from foods that were aggravating my system leaving my body, and not being reintroduced in the subsequent days. While the lack of further weight loss was puzzling, I started waking up with a flatter stomach and leaner look all around. The scale may have stopped measuring change, but my body composition has shifted for the better.

I didn’t embark on this to lose weight. The Whole 30 premise is to change your relationship with food, eliminate the foods that are causing inflammation in your body, and set the foundation for a healthier lifestyle. For many, weight loss is a part of that equation.

Prior to doing the Whole 30, I had been feeling sluggish, fuzzy headed and achy. Most nights were spent awake with a terrible burning in my stomach that antacids weren’t always helping. The real trigger was a day trip to Toronto where I didn’t eat for prolonged periods of time and then scarfed up whatever I could get my hands on, in this case, pizza and a muffin. I ended that marathon day with popcorn and red wine at midnight. The next morning, I felt like I had been run over by a bus. I honestly wondered if I had the flu. My normal eating habits were great, but these bouts of bad eating, which often stretched over a period of days, were taking a toll. I knew food was the culprit, but I didn’t know which ones. Whole 30 confirmed this belief, as I have not had an antacid for 27 days.

My general energy level is high, although I have yet to see my performance in the gym change dramatically. I may be lifting slightly heavier weights, but my endurance is not stronger.After two weeks of random gym going, I am back on my regular kind of hard core program, so I hope to see gains more quickly. During my stressful weeks of balancing fashion deadlines with baking deadlines and having a big presentation date moved up without notice, I found myself feeling calmer amid the storm than usual. I was stressed and I knew it. But that pit of the stomach, feeling like you’re going to combust, out of your mind sensation wasn’t there.

What now, you may be asking? My answer is that I don’t know. I am going to stay the course for a few more days while I figure it out. The next steps are supposed to be a re-entry plan. Each of our bodies are different, and food that bothers one person may be fine for another. The concept is to select an eliminated food group, such as dairy, and try to eat some at each meal for one day, return to the Whole 30 way of eating for two days, and assess how those food made you feel. Did you have any digestive issues, bloating, headaches or any other reactions that were unpleasant? If not, you are free to add back those foods into our diets. Grains, such as quinoa and oats are added back separately from those grains containing gluten, to see if there are issues with some and not others.

Truth be told, I am a little hesitant to try the re-entry. I know I will hit on some foods that bother me. I know that I may think certain things don’t bother me, but I will see the bloat come back slowly, and the scale start to rise again as I the effects start to pile up. I think that whatever my personal poison is, it has a cummulative effect in my body. It isn’t one bowl of pasta that does me in, or one cookie that makes me feel unwell. It is the fact that it triggers cravings that makes me want more sugar, more refined carbs and then, I start to feel ill. The re-entry program is critical, and if I can figure out the foods that are my downfall, I can generally avoid them, and know that if I want to indulge occassionally, I should be prepared to counter attack with a super clean diet to get me back on track again, and purge the inflammation from my body. Just reverting back to eating less mindfully is not an option. Living an active lifestyle requires eating for fuel, and high quality fuel at that. We wouldn’t fill race car up with cheap gas, or worse, the wrong amount of gas and expect it to run properly. We shouldn’t fill our bodies with improper fuel and expect it perform at it’s optimum level.

I will probably start my re-entry in a few days. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, if the weekend brings a glass of wine or a bowl of organic pop corn, I will embrace it.

Did any of you try a Whole 30 or another clean eating program? Any take aways to share? Let us know in the comments.

Photo gif: Glasshouse Images

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Rice Risks

December 4, 2014

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Brown rice is healthier than white rice, right? It contains 67% more vitamin B3,80% more vitamin B1, and 90% more vitamin B6 and 60% more iron before it is milled and polished into white rice. It’s clearly a superior food.

Until now.

In 2012, Consumer Reports tested 60 different types of rice, and found traces of arsenic in all of them. Recently, the publication tested 128 additional samples of rice and rice related products, as well as 114 grains, and found that brown rice contains about 80% more inorganic arsenic than it’s white counterpart.

The tests were run in conjunction with the Food Safety and Sustainability Center and were supplemented by FDA data.

Arsenic is introduced into the soil through the use of pesticides and fertilizers, as well as from natural sources such in the Earth’s crust . The chemical seeps into the outer layers of the grains. Since brown rice retains it’s outer layers, which are stripped away during the refining of white rice, it tends to have a much higher level of arsenic. Surprisingly, organic rices were found to have a similar amount of arsenic as conventional varieties. Brown basmati rice was found to have 1/3 less arsenic than other types.

Good news for the health conscious, especially vegetarians and vegans who count on brown rice as a meal staple: There are many other nutritious grains that are safer.

Amaranth, millet, cornmeal ( grits or polenta ) and buckwheat were found to be almost completely free of arsenic. Trace amounts were found in barley, bulgur and faro.

Some experts advise limiting brown rice consumption to 2 servings (1/4 cup uncooked) per month to avoid toxic levels. The FDA suggests cooking rice in 5 times more water than customary ( the way we cook pasta) which will eliminate some of the arsenic in the cooking process.

We need the FDA to step up and ban farming techniques that expose deadly additives to our healthy foods. In the meantime, it is best to explore other grains and keep rice consumption to a minimum.

photo: glasshouse images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Tabbouleh

July 5, 2013

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As the weather gets warmer, I find my appetite changes. I long for lighter, cooler foods, utilizing the fresh tastes of the season.This simple side dish fills the bill, yet it is hearty enough to build a meal around.

Tabbouleh, a Lebanese salad made of grains, herbs and tomatoes is a great make ahead dish, as it is best to allow the flavors to mingle a bit before serving. While it is traditionally made from bulgur or cracked wheat, quinoa, cous cous or even brown rice could be used in its place. It’s a perfect “unrecipe”that can be tailored to taste and dietary preferences.

Tabbouleh

Prepare 1 cup of the grains as directed, being careful not to overcook them. Bulgur can be cooked on the stovetop for about 20 minutes, or soaked in very hot water until softened. Set aside to cool.

In the meantime, chop a bunch of parsley and ½ a bunch of fresh mint leaves. Add a diced tomato or 2, and a large diced cucumber. A bit of finely chopped onion or scallions can also be added. Stir in the cooked grains. Toss with lemon juice, and olive oil. Season liberally with sea salt and pepper. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to merge. Taste and add lemon juice or more salt and pepper if necessary. Enjoy!

Note: Traditional tabbouleh is very heavy on the herbs, and uses the bulgur modify the balance to herbs and grains to suit your taste.

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photo: Glasshouse Images


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