Quick Tip: Brown Rice is Better (and Not That Hard to Cook)

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/16/2008 12:08 PM   :  227 comments

It's a staple in cuisines around the world, from Chinese to Japanese, Indian to Thai, even Italian, African and Caribbean. It comes in an array of colors and all different lengths and shapes. It's found in dishes sweet and savory.
Rice, it seems, is a pretty versatile food. So why are you still eating run-of-the-mill white rice (with butter, no less)?

Step away from the boil-in-bag, and say no to the white rice. (Whose bright idea was it to create rice that doesn't clump together? Have you ever tried to eat it? It's mushy and hard to keep on your fork!) There's better rice out there.

Brown rice.


I've heard the arguments: It takes longer to cook. It's hard to cook. I don't like it.

Today we're going debunk all those excuses.
Brown rice is better, and it's better for you!

Brown rice (1 cup long grain)
217 calories
1.8 g fat
45 g carbs
3.5 g fiber
5 g protein
vs.
White rice
205 calories
.4 g fat
44.5 g carbs
.6 g fiber
4.3 g protein

(Long grain has fewer calories per cup compared with short grain rice.)
Brown rice is full of vitamins and minerals, too. According to whfoods.com:
"The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1 [thiamin], 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be "enriched" with vitamins B1, B3 and iron."

Brown rice has a stronger taste and firmer texture than white rice, but the taste doesn't overwhelm even the most delicate of sauces. If you've tried it before and disliked it, give it another try. Studies show that it can take a few tries before we learn to like a new food.

Ask for brown rice at restaurants. It's not as ubiquitous as white or--gasp--fried rice, but many restaurants offer it. Pair it with stir-fries, stews and soups. Ask for it in your sushi rolls. Eat it with curries, throw it in casseroles and even use it to make risotto!

I make my kimchi fried rice with brown rice (or sometimes quinoa--more info coming soon)! No one can tell the difference.



It's really quite versatile. Use it almost any recipe.

Excuse: It's too hard to cook! (And it takes too long!)

No matter how you cook it, brown rice isn't that hard to cook. Yes, it does take longer to cook than white rice, but you can make a large batch and keep it on hand for quick meals.

The easiest way to cook it is on the stovetop: Heat 2 cups of water to a boil, then add one cup of brown rice. Bring to a boil again, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes or until rice is as tender as you'd prefer. Store leftovers in fridge for a few days or freeze in single serve portions.

Brown rice can also be cooked in the microwave, an oven, or the slow cooker.

Still not convinced? If all else fails, just buy it in the freezer case!

Do you prefer white rice or a brown rice? Will you make the switch?


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Comments

  • 177
    I do like the taste of brown rice, even plain but I have a hard time getting consistent results in cooking it. I read a recommendation that it be soaked for few hours before cooking to release nutrients. When I do this it comes out too mushy. However, when I don't soak it, it sometimes comes out too hard. I notice here that your recipe and P30GRAVES baked recipe, use much less water than the reccommendation on the packages that I buy. I will try these out and see what happens. - 12/15/2008   10:56:29 AM
  • TERESAL2
    176
    I had the most deliceous wild rice and chicken salad dish served at he Peach Tree Tea Room in Fredricksburg, Tx. The only problem is my wild rice turns out soft, In this recipe it was crunchy with a nutty taste. HELP - 12/8/2008   7:11:27 PM
  • 175
    I cook wild rice, brown rice and red Camargue rice, as well as quinoa and lots of other grains - they're all lovely and well worth the extra effort for the goodness and taste they offer!! - 12/8/2008   2:19:21 PM
  • KMARIA187
    174
    I tried to make this and it just took a long time to cook and it was still kinda hard ?? I usully let the white rice simmer for 20 min. and its done it was 30 min. and it still was not done??? - 12/8/2008   1:37:13 PM
  • 173
    One more comment:

    I was reading through the comments and a couple of people mentioned that they really don't like the flavor of brown rice.

    There are literally hundreds of varieties of rice. The cheapest kind generally have the worst taste and texture (good for fried rice or other dishes where the flavor is masked, but not good for eating alone or in delicate sauces). Before you completely give up on brown rice, try getting a small sample of every variety you can find at a co-op or other bulk-food store. The co-op near my apartment sells 6 different varieties of brown rice - long grain, short grain, brown jasmine, and organics of all three.

    I discovered that I like the regular short grain the best. It has the mildest flavor and sticks together well for eating alone (getting it on the fork) as a side dish or topped with stir-fry, fajita filling (as opposed to in a tortilla), etc. The long-grain has a stronger flavor that I don't really like, and the organics taste very similar, but are quite a bit more expensive.

    I also discovered something rather interesting regarding wild rice. Normally, wild rice has an unpleasant smell when you cook it. Because of that smell, I tend to just cook a huge batch and freeze portions so it doesn't stink up my kitchen every time I want some wild rice. Well, the wild rice from White Earth reservation, though about twice the cost, doesn't smell at all when you cook it! Weird, huh? The only major difference between commercially grown wild rice and White Earth wild rice is that White Earth is truly wild - it is not planted or fertilized. The Native Americans who live on the reservation literally just go out and harvest it out of protected waterways. - 12/8/2008   11:18:53 AM
  • 172
    We made the complete switch to brown rice a long time ago. As we live in Minnesota, I also make good use of wild rice. We cook brown rice in the rice cooker (it turns out perfectly every time), but I cook wild rice on the stove. Different varieties and different harvests all cook differently, so I prefer to watch it closely, which I can't really do in the rice cooker.

    The only thing I use white rice for now is rice pudding. I've tried several different kinds of brown rice in rice pudding, and unless I add a ton of cinnamon, they all taste a little odd. Since rice pudding is only an occasional treat, I don't feel like it's a waste. Better low-fat rice pudding with raisins and made with skim milk than high-fat ice cream! - 12/8/2008   11:09:06 AM
  • 171
    Like MOM2ACAT, I use my rice cooker to cook brown rice and it is perfect everytime. It just takes a little bit more water than with the same amount of white rice. And I even cook quinoa in my rice cooker and it turns out perfect, too! - 12/8/2008   1:14:27 AM
  • P30GRAVES
    170
    I love brown rice but used to be intimidated with cooking it until I found Alton Brown's recipe for Baked Brown Rice. Here it is, enjoy!
    1 1/2 cups brown rice, medium or short grain
    2 1/2 cups water
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

    Place the rice into an 8-inch square glass baking dish.

    Bring the water, butter, and salt just to a boil in a kettle or covered saucepan. Once the water boils, pour it over the rice, stir to combine, and cover the dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour.

    After 1 hour, remove cover and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve immediately. - 12/7/2008   11:06:39 PM
  • BOOGALOOSHRIMPY
    169
    I love brown rice and get all the varieties to go with whatever dish I am eating. However, I have not yet found the short grain risotto rice. I use the white as I love eating and making risotto. I think instant rice whether brown or white is just GROSS! - 12/7/2008   10:18:24 PM
  • 168
    I only eat brown rice...tastes much better than white rice! - 12/7/2008   6:24:36 PM
  • ALC71261
    167
    I prefer brown rice. It has more nutritional value, but also adds color and flavor to the dishes. - 12/7/2008   3:55:03 PM
  • 166
    Brown rice all the way...used to eat white now I can not stand the stuff. When I cook rice I have to cook the brown for me and the white for hubby..he won't budge...same with pasta. so with both I have to double cook but it's way worth the time for me. - 12/7/2008   3:22:48 PM
  • BARBARA10013
    165
    Trader Joe's has a frozen brown rice with 3 pkts. enclosed in box. 3 Min. in
    microwave and it's ready to eat. Each pkt. will feed 4 1/2 Cup serv. Love this
    as can add so many seasonings to it! - 12/7/2008   1:40:05 PM
  • 164
    i am just learning about brown rice and this sounds great. thanks! I am already using natural pasta in our house and no one noticed. Only thing is no one like rice except me and one daughter. We shall see. I will ask for a rice cooker for Christmas. lol - 12/6/2008   1:31:26 PM
  • 163
    I like brown rice. I recently bought a bag that I really don't like though. You have to soak it first. Then the water has not been fully absorbed after the recommended cooking time. And the rice is still crunchy not soft. Uncle Ben's makes a 90 second microwaveable bag. I'll stick to that or a quicker cooking variety. Hope the nutrition is close. - 12/6/2008   10:32:13 AM
  • 162
    I think it is strawberry, I treat white rice like cake... recently for a procedure I had to spend a day eating a low fiber diet, I took advantage and ate white jasmine. Usually I make my own "lundburg's wild rice mix" with brown jasmine, red, black, wild and white jasmine in equal proportions. - 12/6/2008   4:31:36 AM
  • BETHPROVERBS31
    161
    I posted a recipe for a Middle Eastern brown rice, lentil, and onion pilaf called M'jedra if anyone is interested in looking it up on SparkRecipes.com. It is a wonderful dish with healthy fats, beans, and grains. I love the nutty flavor and chewier texture of brown rice, but my DH does not, so when I make brown rice, I always steam him a quick cooking pouch of the white stuff! BLAH! - 12/5/2008   6:36:16 PM
  • 160
    Love brown rice !I just allow enough time to cook if I'm preparing something with it that doesn't take long to cook.I especially like to use low sodium ,fat free chicken broth instead of water. - 12/5/2008   6:22:33 PM
  • 81GODDESS
    159
    I used to be white rice lover......a couple years ago I switched to brown rice when trying Dr. Ian Smith "The Fat Smash Diet". I have been stuck every since. I must admit I don't how to cook the long cooking kind though. I usually buy Minute's Instant Brown rice, Bird's Eye Frozen Steamfresh Whole Grain Brown Rice, or Success Boil and a Bag. I don't know much of a difference between that and while rice. I LOVE brown rice. I can't anything but that now. Almost like my skim milk....I can't even touch whole milk anymore. - 12/4/2008   1:36:11 PM
  • 158
    I love brown rice and cook it in the microwave. I have type 2 diabetes and white rice causes my blood glucose to go sky high, brown rice doesn't have that effect. - 12/3/2008   9:12:26 AM
  • DARLENEK04
    157
    I like both Brown and White(Jasmine) Rice. I try to use the Brown wherever
    possible due to health benefits. - 12/2/2008   1:35:20 PM
  • 156
    I love brown rice. I had never made it before, but after reading on this site it was better for you, out I went and had a look for it. Uncle Ben's makes a 10 minute brown rice. I gave it to my husband and he said ewwwwww what is this. I said just eat it. And then he said WOW this has so much more flavour than white rice. So now that is all we have. It is easy and tastes great! - 12/2/2008   11:21:17 AM
  • GAGIRL54
    155
    I'm not a huge rice fan, but my husband, who was born and raised in the SE could eat it every day. I made the switch a few years ago and found that I like brown better than white rice. He found that he prefers brown to white, too. We never buy or use white rice anymore. - 12/2/2008   10:01:33 AM
  • RUBERSDOTTER
    154
    In addition to being better for us, brown rice is just more filling than the white rices. I love it and wish more of my family members did too, but we're about evenly divided, taste buds wise. I coax them into eating it as often as possible. The non-brown rice lovers very much enjoy jasmine rice, so we eat both kinds. - 11/12/2008   2:04:45 PM
  • BRIDIE5
    153
    If you can find red rice..popular rice in Sri lanka..it's the best of all IMHO. - 11/11/2008   6:46:47 PM
  • 152
    I switched to brown rice a while ago and different rices (Jasmine, etc). I have a small rice cooker and cook up a bunch ahead of time and freeze it in 1 cup containers. Then when I have a recipe I want to try and I don't have a lot of time, I pop it in the microwave and defrost it and then use it that way. The other night I made a quick Chicken Enchilada Casserole where I used Rice (that I had precooked), chicken breast (that I had precooked and prediced), some whole wheat tortillas, green chilies, and some cheese and 1 small can of enchilada sauce. I layered it up like a lasagne. It turned out pretty good and I froze some for left overs. The rice adds so much more nuturients and less meat so it's a good quick filler! - 11/11/2008   9:27:12 AM
  • 151
    All I use is brown rice - I'm by myself - I can cook dinner w/ brown rice from start to finish in 15 minutes. Birdseye has a frozen brown rice that you steam in the microwave - I make a bag, pour out half - which is one serving and sprinkle some herb seasoning or a little sea salt - a while ago I figured why I use butter is for the little bit of salt it adds to a dish. So I eliminate the fat and just give a sprinkle of salt. In the microwave the brown rice takes 4.5 minutes - while that cooks I saute 2 chicken tenders, once the rice is done I pop a bag of frozen veggies in the microwave - wa la - a healthy dinner in under 15 minutes. If you watch the sales you can buy the frozen brown rice and steam in bag veggies for a dollar a bag - that comes to $.50 per serving for the rice - I eat the whole bag of veggies - that's $1.00 - Add whatever meat/protein you want and you can have dinner for one under $5.00!
    No reason not to eat healthy - including brown rice! - 10/26/2008   7:36:26 PM
  • 150
    well I dont like brown rice I have tryed it so many ways with broth, lil butter, gravy any way that rice could be cooked so I will be eating white rice but just less of it - 10/25/2008   12:25:43 PM
  • 149
    Well I bought a box of instant brown rice. I really tried to to enjoy it,but could not. I found it to be really gross ! Maybe the long cooking one is better so I'll give that a try. So many folks here are singing its praises . We'll see :) - 10/22/2008   4:04:02 AM
  • 148
    I grew up on brown rice and introduce my friends to it whenever I get a chance. White rice just doesn't taste like rice to me! - 10/21/2008   7:13:00 PM
  • 147
    Brown Rice - Love it! Anyway you cook it - it rocks! - 10/21/2008   6:27:08 PM
  • LISALU910
    146
    I LOVE brown rice and I eat it several times a week. Since I switched a year ago, I don't even want to eat white rice anymore. If you think you don't like it, try Uncle Ben's. I'm not sure what the difference is, but it cooks up almost as fluffy as white rice and has a great flavor and texture. - 10/21/2008   11:50:07 AM
  • 145
    I love brown rice, wild rice, and basmati for my curries! Cooking longer makes the difference, I find al dente rice isnt what most people enjoy. - 10/21/2008   8:38:47 AM
  • 144
    I have stopped buying white rice. When I first tried brown rice I found that it was very hard to cook, it never seemed to get tender. Now I use Uncle Bens instant brown rice and I love it. Has anyone tried making long grain brown rice in a steamer or crockpot? I am curious to see if that works better since the instant is more expensive. - 10/21/2008   8:19:49 AM
  • 143
    Eden Organics does a variety of canned brown rice/bean mixtures that are seasoned and taste great! These are great alone with a little low fat cheese sprinked on top or topped with other foods that might, otherwise, wind up on top of bread. Try BBQ on top for a healthy change. - 10/21/2008   7:39:43 AM
  • 142
    I've been using the "instant" brown rice you can buy at any Walmart or Hannaford store. It tastes better than white, and I was raised on white with butter and salt! The long cooking brown is a bit too iron tasting for me. I'm sure that i'm not getting quite as much nutrition as long cooking but for me it's an easy and good meal.

    i like to take leftover brown rice and add apple sauce to it. equall parts. microwave to warm it up nicely and that's a great breakfast! - 10/21/2008   7:00:48 AM
  • 141
    I love our rice cooker . . . it can also be used to steam vegetables so it has multiple purposes. More importantly the rice cooker can prepare brown rice so your family will love it. We made the transition to brown rice by adding an extra cup of water and allowing the rice to soak for 15 minutes before cooking. The rice was fluffy and tasty. Now we prefer brown rice . . . in fact, we eat rice at least once a week for a main meal and twice a week for lunch. - 10/20/2008   11:21:45 PM
  • 140
    I absolutely love brown rice. It has such a nice nutty flavor and the texture isn't so mushy. It's yummy straight out of the pan. - 10/20/2008   9:32:24 PM
  • 139
    I prefer brown rice over white. Just not a big fan of rice. - 10/20/2008   7:15:25 PM
  • 138
    I am finally getting used to it. I still can't cook it, my husband always does, but the taste doesn't bother me and I know it is a small step toward a healthier me.

    Karen Syed
    http://klsyed.blogspot.com - 10/20/2008   5:07:11 PM
  • 137
    Yeah, I love the brown rice over white rice any day-- like the wild rice, too. - 10/20/2008   8:55:32 AM
  • 136
    I love brown rice. Most of our family recipes work well with brown instead of white. Sometimes my hubby rebels and asks for white but the rest of us have transitioned well. I even like the Success boil in bag brown rice which is ready in like 10 minutes. Try it, you might be surprised! - 10/19/2008   6:06:04 PM
  • 135
    I tried to switch the family to brown rice as I prefer it. My husband and boys rebelled and switched back to jasmine rice. Now when I cook nobody wants to eat the rice. - 10/19/2008   2:08:57 PM
  • 134
    Sorry, I CAN'T eat brown rice. It triggers migraines. :-p I'm experimenting with other whole grains, but for me brown rice is not an option. :( - 10/19/2008   11:15:27 AM
  • MISSRITAFAYE
    133
    I love the texture of brown rice and I really need that extra fiber. Bye bye white rice. - 10/19/2008   8:25:10 AM
  • 132
    It definitely took me a few tries to figure out how i like brown rice (I was never a big fan of rice in general), but I've found cooking it longer and adding seasonings into the water makes it really good. - 10/18/2008   9:35:11 PM
  • 131
    We've learned to like brown rice also. Thanks for posting about it. - 10/18/2008   9:17:24 PM
  • 130
    I LOVE brown rice! - 10/18/2008   5:49:07 PM
  • 129
    I like brown rice, i used to eat nothing but white and then my doctor told me to try to stay from white foods and that may help me with my weight loss. - 10/18/2008   1:00:11 PM
  • 128
    There's parboiled brown rice that's just as easy & fast to cook as white! I hope it hasn't gone through some process that takes away some of the nutrients...Does anyone know? Sometimes I'll mix the white & brown for my family but I think they really don't care now, they've gotten used to it. Good stuff! - 10/18/2008   12:58:42 PM

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