Friday, September 19, 2008

Rice Helps the Heart, and the Wallet

(ARA) – With the rising cost of groceries, families are trying to make their hard-earned dollars go farther. Buying staples -- as opposed to manufactured mixes -- and using them in several different recipes is one way to reduce costs and yet provide a healthy meal for the entire family.

Of all the products on supermarket shelves, one of the most versatile is rice, a complex carbohydrate that is free of sodium, cholesterol and trans fat. It is also gluten-free, non-allergenic and easy to digest. Purchasing plain rice allows consumers to use the versatile grain in multiple recipes and is more cost-effective per serving. For example, a jar of RiceSelect’s Texmati rice is 30 cents per serving whereas seasoned mixes can range from 60 cents to $1.20 per serving.

“One great time -- and money-saving tip -- is to cook all of your rice for the week at once and store the leftovers in the refrigerator,” says Deborah Locke, product manager for RiceSelect. “The next time you are preparing a pilaf, casserole or rice salad, you are halfway there.”

September is Whole Grains Month, and numerous studies have shown that people who eat whole grains, such as brown rice, as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Eating whole grains may help regulate blood glucose levels in those with diabetes and studies also show people who consume more whole grains are better able to maintain a healthy weight. Plus, whole grains, like Texmati brown rice and RiceSelect’s Royal Blends, make a great compliment to other healthy foods like vegetables and lean protein.

Rice tastes great as well, which makes it perfect for the whole family to enjoy. But when you head to the grocery store, don’t just pick up any generic brand. Seek out a brand that you know was grown close to home.

Buying locally-grown food is becoming more and more important for consumers who are concerned about minimizing their carbon footprints. RiceSelect, for example, grows and packages all of its products here in the United States. And regardless of what you may have heard, there is currently an abundance of U.S. grown rice.

More than 100 recipes for the family to enjoy are available at The recipes range from salads and side dishes to entrees and desserts. Here are a few of them:

* Brown Rice Black Bean Burrito
Yield: Makes six servings

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
3 cups cooked Texmati Brown Rice
1 15- or 16-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 11-oz. can corn, drained
6 8-inch flour tortillas
3/4 cup or 6 oz. shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup prepared salsa

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until onion is tender. Add rice, beans and corn. Cook, stirring 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is thoroughly heated. Remove from the heat.

Spoon 1/2 cup of the rice mixture down the center of each tortilla. Top each with 2 Tbsp. cheese, 1 Tbsp. green onion and 1 Tbsp. yogurt. Roll the tortilla up and top with 1 Tbsp. salsa.

To save time, when cooking the rice for the burritos, double the recipe on the label and use the leftover rice in another dish, like Cremini Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Rice Soup, later in the week.

* Cremini Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Rice Soup
Yield: Makes eight to 12 servings

1/3 cup butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large sweet mild onion, finely chopped
3 cups cooked Texmati Brown Rice, divided
1 (6 1/2-oz.) container Garlic and Herbs Spreadable Cheese
2 (14-oz.) cans roasted garlic seasoned chicken broth, divided
2 cups water, additional if desired
8 slices pre-cooked ready-to-serve smoked bacon
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large non-stick stockpot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion; cook about 10 minutes, stirring periodically. Let the mixture cool slightly. In a food processor or blender, combine mushroom mixture, 1-1/2 cups rice, cheese and 1 cup broth. Pulse mixture until mushrooms are finely chopped but not pureed and mixture is thoroughly combined. Return mixture to stockpot; stir in remaining rice, broth and water. Bring to a boil; cook uncovered over medium heat 5 minutes. Heat bacon slices between paper towels in microwave according to package directions. Chop bacon and set aside. Add salt and pepper to soup to taste. To serve, ladle soup into bowls; sprinkle with bacon.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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