If you're looking for healthier grain options other than quinoa, barley and couscous, then maybe it's time to give wild rice a look. For most of us, the only time we get to enjoy wild rice is when we need a quick meal side dish and opt for a quick-fix white-and-wild-rice package. But wild rice doesn't need to take a backseat to the softer rice varieties and can be a great way to add fiber to a number of delicious recipes.
Health Benefits of Wild Rice
Wild rice is native to North America, and to the surprise of many, it is not a rice grain at all. Wild rice is actually a semi-aquatic grass that historically has grown in lakes, tidal rivers and bays. Here are some of the wonderful health benefits of wild rice:
- Contains a whopping 10 grams of fiber per serving.
- Gluten-free with twice the protein of brown rice.
- Contains no sodium, making it a good choice for diabetics.
- Rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, C and E.
Since a serving of wild rice is lower in calories than any other rice variety, you can enjoy more of the health benefits. Some mistakenly believe that wild rice is too hard on the digestive system. But quite the contrary: Wild rice enhances digestion and contributes to regularity.
How to Include Wild Rice in Your Diet
When you cook wild rice, you will add 3 cups of water per 1 cup of uncooked rice. After it comes to a boil, simmer the rice for up to 50 minutes, depending on your tastes. When the wild rice grains burst open, you know that it is done, but you can cook longer to obtain your desired tenderness. Here are five ways to include wild rice in your diet:
- Stuffed portobello mushrooms. Stuff the mushroom cavity with a mixture of wild rice and chopped onions, as well as garlic, basil, and oregano that has been sauteed along with chopped pancetta.
- Apple and wild rice salad. Mix together chopped celery, currants and apple with wild rice, then toss with a light olive oil and Dijon mustard dressing.
- Onion and wild rice soup. Make your favorite onion soup recipe and add wild rice while simmering to perfection. Your onion soup will be heartier, more filling and can serve as a main dish.
- Wild rice mushroom pilaf. Using your favorite rice pilaf recipe, substitute half of the white or yellow rice with wild rice and add chopped or sliced mushrooms for a deep, richly flavored side dish.
- Wild rice-stuffed game hen. The next time you roast a hen, use a boxed white-and-wild-rice mix along with chopped mushrooms and crushed rosemary for an incredibly delicious stuffing.
You can always enjoy the health benefits of wild rice by substituting half of your white or brown rice dishes with wild rice. You will notice a more robust flavor and your rice dishes will be more satisfying.
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