Rice is nice as savory or sweet treat

Posted: Sunday, September 03, 2006


  Cranberry Pecan Rice Pilaf is a great end to a fall meal. Photo by the Amarillo (Texas) Gl

Cranberry Pecan Rice Pilaf is a great end to a fall meal.

Photo by the Amarillo (Texas) Gl

Rice. It’s what’s for dinner — for about two-thirds of the world’s population.

The ancient grain is integral to many cuisines, including Mexican, Asian and Indian dishes.

About 90 percent of the rice eaten in the United States is grown in this country, primarily in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Missouri.

In Texas, rice is grown on about 200,000 acres in the 21-county rice belt around the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Brown rice, in which the germ, bran and endosperm are intact, has been added to the Women’s, Infants and Children’s federal nutrition program. WIC offers a prescribed bundle of foods to pregnant and nursing women who qualify plus children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk.

Molly Johnson, director of retail trade and special promotions for USA Rice Federation, said growth in brown rice consumption was prompted by release of revamped U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines released last year. The guidelines recommend people eat six to 10 servings of grain per day and that at least half those grains should come from whole grains. The remaining servings should come from enriched grains because of the vitamins and minerals they provide, the guidelines say.

Brown rice sales grew 15 percent, while total rice sales increased 6 percent the year after the guidelines appeared, Johnson said.

Two-thirds of U.S. consumers eat rice weekly, 85 percent eat rice twice a month and 90 percent eat rice in restaurants, she said.

Karen Collins is a registered dietitian who works as nutrition adviser to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

She encourages people to eat brown rice.

“If people eat brown rice, it is really nutritionally superior to white rice. In addition to the B vitamins in enriched white rice, brown rice has (vitamin) B6, magnesium, selenium,” she said.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), magnesium and selenium are removed in the processing of white rice, she said.

Enriched white rice has added thiamin, niacin, iron and folic acid to restore what is lost during processing, according to USA Rice Federation.

Brown rice, because the bran remains intact, also has rice bran oil, which seems to help blood cholesterol levels, Collins said.

Rice combines well with other foods, she said, and is found in cuisines from around the world.

It also works as a meat extender and as a vehicle for dried fruits and vegetables, so people eat more fruit and vegetable servings, Collins said.

How to store

Enriched white rice — Store tightly covered and it will keep almost indefinitely.

Brown rice will stay fresh for about six months because it contains oils in the bran. Refrigerate or freeze to extend the shelf life.

Source: USA Rice Federation

Southwest Salsa Bites

Yield: 48 appetizers for 8 servings

3 cups cooked brown rice, cooled

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

4 eggs

1 16-ounce jar medium (or hot) thick and chunky-style salsa

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup crushed corn or tortilla chips

Additional salsa and sour cream for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine rice and cheese in large bowl; set aside. In medium bowl, beat eggs until well blended. Stir in salsa, sour cream, salt and pepper. Add salsa mixture to rice and cheese; mix well. Spray miniature muffin pans with vegetable cooking spray. Spoon approximately 1 tablespoons rice mixture into each cup, filling to just below the rim. Sprinkle crushed chips over filling, pressing slightly with back of spoon. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm with additional salsa and sour cream, if desired.

Nutrition information: 287 calories; 14 grams fat 2 grams fiber, 10 grams protein

Cranberry Pecan

Rice Pilaf

Yield: 4 servings

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 cup uncooked rice

1 14 1/2-ounce can chicken broth

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/4 cup sliced green onions

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Melt butter in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add rice; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth and heat to boiling; stir once or twice. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, cranberries, pecans and onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To toast pecans, spread nuts on small baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees 5 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring frequently.

Nutrition information: 314 calories, 15 grams fat, 2 grams fiber, 9 grams protein

All recipes courtesy of the USA Rice Federation.

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