One of the good carbs: Brown rice three ways

‘Good carbohydrates’ has almost become an oxymoron amongst many seeking optimal health.  Unrefined or whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat and oatmeal contain fiber, minerals and vitamins so they nourish the body, provide energy and are filling.   Brown rice contains manganese, phosphorous and B vitamins.  If you are a very active person, like myself, you especially need healthy carbs to sustain your energy levels and lifestyle.  Many experts say carbs are brain fuel too.  Brown rice is not only one of my favorite whole grains, it’s one of my favorite foods period.  I particularly like the short grain variety.  Many people, in an effort to lose weight, eliminate carbs from their diets.  The refined and processed carbs that are lacking in fiber and are nutritionally void such as white bread, donuts, cakes and refined pasta are basically empty calories than can cause weight gain if not burned up.  They are easy to over consume because they are not filling and its easy to eat large amounts.

I can easily enjoy plain brown rice.  That’s right, no oil or seasoning.  Sometimes I’ll spice it up  a bit by adding sea salt and hot sauce.  I’ll admit that’s not a very balanced meal so I’m sharing three easy ways to eat brown rice that anyone can make.  Brown rice takes longer to cook (about 45 minutes) than white rice because the fiber-containing husk is still intact.  I’ve never been good at cooking rice the traditional way.  I either burn it or it’s soggy.  My rice cooker has been a lifesaver.  I strongly recommend one.  It even turns off automatically when the rice is ready.  I’ve had perfect rice ever since.  One cup cooked has just over 200 calories, 4 grams of fiber and 4-5 grams of protein.  In a meal I typically eat about 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice.

(Mexican Style)

Brown rice and beans

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

1 cup shredded Brussels sprouts

1/2 cup cooked black beans

1/2 cup pico de gallo

1/2 avocado diced

Heat the brussels in a frying pan with a splash of water and 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil at medium to high heat for about 5 minutes.  I call this dry frying.  It soften the vegetable and the oil gives it a nice flavor.  Mix it with the rice, beans, pico and avocado.  Season with salt and hot sauce.

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(No pico in photo)

(Asian Style)

Fried rice

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

1 cup shredded Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup finely diced onions

tamari/soy sauce to taste

1/2 avocado diced

This recipe is best with left over cooked rice that has been refrigerated. Heat the brussels and onions in a frying pan with a splash of water and 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil for about 5 minutes.  Add the rice to the pan and add a few dashes of tamari or soy sauce.  Cook for another 3-5 minutes or until rice is hot.  Remove from pan and add avocado.  This recipe goes well with chopped peppers and carrots too but I wanted too keep it really simple.  Edamame would be a great addition too for added protein.

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(Jamaican Style)

Brown rice and Kidney Beans

3/4 cups uncooked rice

1/2 cup cooked kidney beans

1/3 cup coconut milk

Sea salt to taste

Follow rice cooker directions and begin boiling rice.  Replace 1/3 cup of the water in the directions with coconut milk.  When about ten minutes remains for rice to be finished mix in the kidney beans.  Season with salt to taste.  Eat with veggies of your choice.  If you have fresh thyme place it in the boiling rice and discard before eating.

I hope you try some of these simple dishes and are inspired to create your own.

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You may not be what you eat (now) but you will be

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So what is this riddle all about?  I had a brief exchange with a young man (21 years old) recently.  He was drinking an energy drink and saying that he knew they were bad for him.  One of his justifications was that he doesn’t drink coffee so that’s his way of ‘waking up’ when he begins his day.  I asked him why he just didn’t go to bed earlier.  His reply was that that absolutely not an option with his lifestyle and specifically spending time with his girlfriend.   He then said that he can ‘get away with it’ at this age and once this phase was over he would stop drinking them.  I told him that when someone develops an illness in middle age or older it’s not because of something they consumed yesterday or even last year.  The negative  consequences of unhealthy habits compound in the body over time and then manifest in a health problem decades later.  He agreed as he continued drink the toxic beverage.

Many young people have this mindset that they can eat whatever they want and lead a  lifestyle consisting of harmful habits such as not sleeping enough when they are young because they can still handle it.  This is especially evident in those ‘lucky ducks’ that remain slim in spite of eating large amounts of junk foods.  It’s unfortunate that many people change their habits only when they are diagnosed with a life threatening or serious disease.  When cancer tumors are detectable or the liver is damaged or the pancreas malfunctions these are the results of decades of abuse from a poor diet and lifestyle.  Basically the damage is done by the time we feel symptoms or see physical evidence of a problem.  If the problem can be cured  drastic measures such as surgery or medication are typically required.  In some cases a significant dietary change helps.  This is very difficult for some people to adapt because their eating habits and cravings are ingrained physically and emotionally.

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I firmly believe in a proactive approach to long term health.  Lifestyle and diet are not the only components involved in preventing illness but they are major factors over which we have so much control.  Make the choice now to make some permanent changes to reduce your risks of getting sick.  Most of us know what to do to be healthier.  The challenge arises with executing these behaviors on a consistent basis.  Just in case you need a reminder here are some simple tried and true tips:

  1. Drink more water.
  2. Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, beans and healthy fats.
  3. Eat less or no meat and dairy.
  4. Avoid processed foods with artificial additives, added sugar and added oils.
  5. Get more sleep;7-8 hours per night.
  6. Exercise everyday or as much as possible