Growing up in a Chinese household, white rice has always been a staple food at every meal. To this day, many Chinese parents I know (mine included!) will often say that they are not full after a meal that does not include white rice. Modern dietary advice however suggests that having white rice as a staple in our diets may not be as nutritious for us as alternative foods and is starting to become increasingly linked with metabolic conditions like diabetes and obesity.
This has led me to look at ways in which I can help my family and my patients cut down on the amount of white rice that they eat without completely sacrificing the enjoyment that some of them get from their meals.
The nutrition in white rice is reduced largely due to the processing of the rice grain which converts the rice wholegrain into a refined grain. Refined grains have had much of the vitamin and mineral content removed. In addition, this refinement process converts the wholegrain rice into a refined carbohydrate which is easier to digest but which subsequently causes spikes in energy levels when eaten. This makes white rice delicious but when eaten in high quantities can lead to the body having a source of energy that is too easily accessible.
In cultures where energy-rich sources of food are scarce, this high energy density is a necessary fuel for a busy day. However in cultures where we have a slower pace of life and easy access to energy-dense foods, white rice can cause our bodies to work harder to convert the excess energy into fat as well as giving us peaks and lulls of energy throughout the day.
Brown rice is a common and well-known substitute, however some people find it too grainy and lacking the fluffiness of white rice. Whilst cutting out white rice completely may not be possible for everyone, what is probably more feasible is to cut it down and gradually. I suggest mixing white rice with other grains and seeds which are nutritious and which provide energy more slowly. One of my favourite grains is coarse bulgar wheat is a great source of vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients as well as being a good source of plant-based protein. As a wholegrain, coarse bulgar wheat has similar benefits to brown rice, but in my experience is tastier as it has the same fluffy texture as white rice. One downside of bulgar wheat is that it contains gluten and therefore should not be eaten by anyone with Coeliac disease or anyone looking to remove gluten from their diet.
So here is my simple recipe to help reduce the amount of white rice you eat - I hope that you enjoy it!
Bulgar Wheat, Rice with Quinoa Recipe
Ingredients (Serves Two)
- 0.25 cup of brown rice
- 0.25 cup of white rice
- 0.5 cup of course bulgar wheat
- 2 teaspoons of red quinoa (Not essential but adds extra nutrients and a bit of colour)
- 1.75 cups of water
You will need:
- 1 x Rice cooker
- Add rices, bulgar wheat and quinoa to your rice cooker.
- Add water.
- Switch on your rice cooker.
- This will be ready in approximately 45-60 minutes.
Hint 1: You may find that your taste buds change over time and that you don’t need to have as much white rice in the mix. Simply reduce the amount of rice and replace with either brown rice or bulgar wheat to taste.