Tuesday eats: brown rice

So. Today. I start filming my new TV show. First day. I’ve lost my voice and I’m up to here with snot and flueyness. I’ll post again soon about the new show -it’s all secret squirrels for now (wherever did that phrase come from?!!). For now I can tell you it’s about nutrition…a pet topic of mine. As I’ve mentioned here, I’m studying integrative nutrition at the moment. I graduate as a health coach in October.


Anyway, I was at my mate Rosie’s house for dinner over the weekend, eating brown rice. I hope you won’t mind me saying this, but she reckons the stuff upsets her stomach – gas, runs to the loo, and the like. You too?

OK, here’s the solution plus some tips on how to make cooking with brown rice easier and healthier, bearing in mind the wholegrain version of anything is always 9485749 times more nutritious. The outer brans contain the fatty acids and also ensure slower digestion, providing more sustained energy.

1. always always always soak brown rice

The husk of brown rice is full of phytic acid. It’s a naturally occurring organic acid. But here’s the thing. When it gets into the gut the acid mixes with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc and prohibits these minerals from being absorbed. Not grand. In fact, I’ve heard stories from doctors saying that people with zinc and calcium deficiencies are often revealed to be massive brown rice nuts.

You don’t have to stop eating the stuff. Just soak it in enough water to cover it, overnight. The same applies to almonds – soaking activates the digestive enzymes, making them easier to digest. I soak them overnight and leave them to dry…or you can buy them as “activated” almonds in health food shops (but pay premium for them doing the soaking for you).

2. Cook the stuff in big batches (cos it takes so bloody long)

I cook a whole packet in a massive pot of water to about 90% done. I strain. Cool. The freeze in batches. It does freeze super well in ziplock bags, in individual portions, because it doesn’t clump so much. But, given plastic ain’t grand for our health, I also freeze in jars.

3. This is how I use it:

* I add to boiling water for 2 minutes when I’m ready to eat

* Or I add to a stirfry, straight from the freezer, to make a fried rice thingo. I love cooking up some pumpkin in coconut oil with ginger, turmeric, a bit of chilli, adding rice and frozen peas and some frozen kale (which I’ve also frozen in batches). A squueze of lemon juice at the end.

* I cook up as a porridge with milk, straight from the freezer. Or sometimes coconut milk. And heaps of cinnamon.

* I take a batch to work with a tin of tuna (Greenseas…the best tuna to eat) and some broccoli bits I’ve cut up and some salted capers (instant flavour hit). I whack it in the microwave (I know, not ideal). Instant lunch.

* Or I cook this recipe below from 101 Cookbooks.

Spinach Rice Gratin Recipe

2 1/2 cups leftover/pre-cooked brown rice, room temp
1 1/2 cups cups well finely chopped spinach
4 ounces firm organic tofu, crumbled
10 black olives, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/3 cup pine nuts or almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup shredded Manchego cheese (or Parm, or Gruyere)
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Rack in the top third. Grease a 10-inch round baking dish (or equivalent) with a bit of olive oil.

In a large bowl combine the rice, spinach, and tofu. Now, reserving a bit of each for garnish, stir in the olives, and red onion, pine nuts and olive oil. Now stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, and salt. Fold the eggs into the rice mixture, pour into the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until the casserole is set, and the top toasty and golden. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with remaining onions, olives, and nuts. Sprinkle with a bit more salt before serving – or taste and get a sense of whether you need any.

Serves 8 – 12.

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