Sunday, June 20, 2010

Keep it simple

I don't spend a lot of time reading about studies with the latest fad diets and health claims. It does seem like what was good for us yesterday is no good for us today. My favorite was when dark chocolate was declared good for you. I didn't hesitate to embrace that concept, regardless of what new research might come and say some years from now. A square or two a day keeps me happy!   I don't remember where coffee is these days?  Villain?  Savior?  Use in moderation and I think I'll be OK.

This article, Eating Brown Rice to Cut Diabetes Risk, in the New York Times caught my eye."Just replacing a third of a serving of white rice with brown each day could reduce one’s risk of Type 2 diabetes by 16 percent, a statistical analysis showed. A serving is a cup of cooked rice."

Pretty simple.  Pretty low risk.  Easy to try.  Big payoff, because you can do so much with brown rice.  The simple concept that I remember most vividly from my reading of the books by Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman about the health effects of a simpler diet was the difference between whole grains and processed grains, how our body handles them, and what it means for keeping weight in check.  Whole grains and vegetables make you feel more "full", so you don't overeat.  And if you DO eat a lot of these, they don't make you fat.

Brown rice is a perfect example.  Brown rice is as easy to make as white rice, it just takes 45 minutes instead of 20.  Make some extra and you'll have some for another meal or two, in different incarnations.  It's a perfect start to any meal. 

So, if you've been looking to make some changes, start with the brown rice.  Give it a chance to shine in a tasty pilaf or cold rice salad with bold flavors.  And once you get the hang of brown rice, you might find yourself wondering about other whole grains for variety -- wheat berries, buckwheat (kasha), quinoa, and more that I haven't tried yet.  Get a cheap rice cooker, and you can do any of these grains as easily as you can do white rice.

Bittmans's book, Food Matters, suggests that entry to this world of whole grain, real food cookery starts with a pot of beans.  Good idea.  But a pot of brown rice may be so much simpler and less intimidating.  Try starting there.  It's simple.

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