Rice is Nice for the Mind and Body

White rice and brown rice are not only different in color, but in flavor and nutrients as well. Both are good and good for you, as the saying goes.

What most people do not know is that the majority of rice starts out brown. First, newly grown rice is harvested. Next, the husks are removed. To become white in color, all of the germ and bran must be removed from the rice. To keep its natural brown color, only some of the bran must be removed.

In other words, white rice is not the cousin of brown rice, but rather, brown rice with a facelift.

Without anything added to it, cooked brown rice has a stronger taste than cooked white rice. Brown rice has a slightly nutty flavor, which may be emphasized with the addition of sunflower seeds, nuts, pretzels, and other such ingredients. Tastebuds that enjoy hotter foods might like to jazz up plain brown rice with some salsa. Why not try the spice and heat of a New Orleans brown rice recipe?

White rice, on its own, may taste bland to some, while others enjoy it as a snack or meal, perhaps adding just a smidge of butter for flavor. White rice is often available as a side dish in restaurants. It is popular to add soy sauce to a bowl of steamed rice, a simple dish which is often found in Asian-inspired restaurants. Rice and beans are usually part of – if not side dishes served with – Mexican-based lunches and dinners.

Both brown rice and white rice have carbohydrates, naturally, but there is a difference in this which may interest those currently counting carbs. The carbohydrates in white rice are processed more quickly than those in brown rice. This results in a rise and fall of blood glucose levels. In other words, the carbohydrates in brown rice will cause less of a blood glucose "crash." Brown rice causes fewer spikes and crashes in energy than white rice does.

Rice is a filling dish. This is why, again, it is often treated as a side dish. Some chefs prefer to not drain all of the water from the cooked rice. This is in order to retain the rice's natural ingredients and nutrients. Also, those who chose to keep in some of the water may want to create a creamier dish. This same effect can be achieved with the addition of milk, which also has its own zesty flavor.

There are many popular brands of almost-ready rice mixes out there. Open the box or bag, pour the contents into a bowl or pot, add water, butter and / or milk, cook over the stove or in the microwave, and voila – you have created flavorful rice without having to purchase, chop, slice, dice and otherwise prepare additional ingredients. Recommended pantry-style boxed and bagged brands include Rice-a-Roni – try the garden vegetable pilaf and you will not be sorry – and Lipton's Rice Sides – which have become so popular that they have different categories now, such as Fiesta Sides.

Check out the ingredients on the back of the box to see what kind(s) of rice lurk inside. You may be surprised to discover brown rice listed. Some brands may mix various kinds of rice and risotto.

Some of these famous food companies have now cooked up ready-made rice mixes which are sold in microwavable bags. Talk about no muss, no fuss. There are even Uncle Ben's Rice Bowls available in the frozen food aisle.

Don't be afraid to try brown rice. You may find you like the taste as well as the nutrition it provides. Try mixing white and brown rice with fresh vegetables for a healthy, filling meal. Try risotto. Try long-grain. There are many kinds of rice out there, just waiting to be steamed and enjoyed.