If you think brown rice is boring… I would bet that you haven’t tried my recipe for Lime Cilantro Brown Rice! You may have enjoyed something similar at a local or chain restaurant and assumed that it would be too complicated to make at home. Good news!!! My students were so excited when they realized that they could make this fantastic rice anytime, for just pennies per serving! My recipe is deceptively simple, as it calls for a small number of inexpensive, accessible and healthful ingredients. However, the combination infuses the cooked brown rice with bold flavors that will add zip, and nutrition boost, to your favorite Southwestern chopped salad or lettuce wrap, taco, burrito or compliment your favorite veggie and black bean enchilada.
To get the most nutrients in every bite that you enjoy and every dollar that you spend, when it comes to grains, whole grains just make sense! Since whole grains include the the bran and germ portions of the grain, they provide more than 17 important nutrients at a much higher level that their processed or refined grain counterparts (e.g. white rice), especially vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, fiber and vitamin E. The refining process also nearly decimates the phytonutrient content, those disease-preventing, health promoting found naturally in plants. Not only has the consumption of whole grains been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, improved digestion and weight control, we now know that eating whole grains can actually be good for your brain! While a few popular books have theorized that “grains” are “bad” for the brain, when we follow the actual research, we see that consuming whole grains is strongly protective in relation to Alzheimer’s disease, once thought to be entirely determined by genetics. During a recent presentation, Dr. Greger, one of my personal heroes in medicine, quoted from an editorial published in the journal Neurology, “don’t pass on the grain… pass the grain, to spare the brain.”
For those of you who are newbies to cooking brown rice, no need to be intimidated! Choose your favorite variety: short grain, long grain or medium grain brown rice, or look for Jasmine brown rice or Basmati brown rice, if you have enjoyed the refined versions of those in the past.Though many cooking techniques exist, two of the easiest ways to ensure that your brown rice will come out great, involve either a rice cooker or large pasta pot. Rice cookers do a great job with brown rice, so if you have one, put it to work! Another technique that you may not be familiar with is to stir rinsed brown rice into a large pot of boiling water, similar to cooking pasta, but let it cook for ~30 minutes, until tender. Drain the cooked rice in a sieve for 15 seconds or so, and then put it back in the cooking pot, off the stove, but with the lid on to steam for a few minutes. You can make a big pot of rice to enjoy all week, or freeze some of it in smaller containers.
Lime Cilantro Brown Rice
This recipe comes together in minutes and is fantastic next to spicy black beans or in a burrito! Use your favorite chili pepper in place of the jalapeño. Try a Habanero if you like it really hot, a Serrano if you like it just a bit spicier, or a half of a Poblano or Pasilla, depending on the size, if you like it mild.
1/3 cup scallions (green onions), finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced (~2 Tbsp)
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
a few Tablespoons of vegetable broth or tomato juice
2 Tablespoons lime juice, use 1 tsp of lime zest
3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups cooked brown rice (from 1 cup uncooked brown rice)
Sauté scallions, jalapeño and garlic in broth or tomato juice for 2-3 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients, being sure to zest the lime before squeezing and warm the rice, if cooked earlier, before combining with other ingredients.
Nutrition Info: (1/2 cup of rice mixture with 1/2 tsp salt): 110 kcals, 1g fat, 24g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g protein, 195 mg of sodium, 111 mg potassium