Try Some Healthy New Rice Dishes

In light of today’s many low-carb and carb-free diets, a tasty and versatile grain has sadly lost much of its significance. Rice is an important staple for countless cultures around the world. It is used not only as a side dish, but often is the basis of main courses, found in salads, and even makes delicious desserts.

Thankfully, just as there are good carbs and bad carbs, there are also many healthful rice dishes. The stage of refinement often determines the amount of nutrients found in the rice. Brown rice, for example, goes through less treatment and stripping and contains more vitamins and fiber than thoroughly refined white rice.

Parboiled or converted white rice goes through an industrial steaming process which preserves nutrients in the kernel, thus creating a grain with more vitamins and minerals than traditional white rice.

Certain breeds of rice are healthier than others. Native American wild rice and other American Aromatics are nutritious and delicious alternatives to wild rice. Of course, adding fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats to rice provides for delicious and healthy meals. Try these recipes for tasty rice dishes from around the world:

Arborio Risotto with Artichokes and Asparagus

  • 6 cups chicken broth, fresh or canned
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup chopped pickled artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

Bring chicken stock to a boil, then simmer on low heat. In separate skillet, heat olive oil. Add garlic and brown. Stir in uncooked rice and heat for about a minute, stirring constantly.

Add half a cup of the warm both to the rice mixture and simmer on medium-low heat until rice has absorbed the liquid. Continue adding broth a half a cup at a time and stir frequently as the rice absorbs the broth.

With the last of the broth, toss in chopped artichoke hearts and asparagus, then sprinkle with salt and white pepper and mix well. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until rice is al dente and creamy. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese before serving.

Serves four. Risotto also makes for a wonderful appetizer.

Spicy Shrimp Paella

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red chile pepper
  • 2 chorizo sausages, cubed
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp, de-shelled
  • ½ teaspoon saffron
  • pinch salt and black pepper
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups Valencia (Spanish-style) rice
  • ½ cup green peas
  • ½ cup carrots, cubed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add onion, garlic and chile pepper and simmer until garlic browns. Add sausage and shrimp and slightly brown, turning shrimp onto both sides. Mix in rice and simmer until rice turns golden.

Add saffron, salt and pepper, chicken stock and chopped tomatoes, and continue simmering for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a baking dish. Arrange peas and carrots on top of the rice mixture, then bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until rice is soft. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe serves six. For more spice, increase the amount of red chile in recipe or serve with hot sauce.

Brown Rice and Chickpea Salad

  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 pound cooked chickpeas, fresh or canned
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 large diced green pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon white pepper

Cook brown rice and chickpeas as indicated on packaging. Let cool. In large bowl, mix together rice, chickpeas, almonds, green pepper, and basil, then refrigerate.

In separate bowl, blend lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and white pepper to make salad dressing. Set aside and toss salad with dressing just before serving. Recipe serves four.

Curry Coconut Chicken and Rice

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ½ pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small cubes
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 1 ½ cups coconut milk
  • 1 ½ cups water

Heat oil in large skillet, then add onions, salt, curry powder and ginger and sauté until onions are glassy. Add chicken breast and slightly brown. Add uncooked rice and sauté for about a minute.

Mix in coconut milk and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until rice is fully cooked.

Recipe serves four. Add your choice of vegetables or substitute chicken for other meats or seafood for variations.

Brown Rice and Peach Crisp

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 cups peaches, fresh or canned
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ up flour
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together rice and peaches and pour into a baking dish. In separate bowl, mix flour, cinnamon and nutmeg, then add butter and hand-mix until the mixture is flaky.

Crumble flour and butter mixture on top of rice and peaches. Top with almonds and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, until top is golden brown. Serves six. Garnish with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping if desired.

Wild Rice and Vegetable Medley

  • 1 package long grain and wild rice mix (additional ingredients may be required, as indicated on package)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 clove finely minced garlic
  • ½ cup red onions, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced zucchini
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced red peppers
  • ½ cup corn

Heat oil in large skillet, then add garlic and brown. Add the onions, zucchini, mushrooms, pepper and corn and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, until vegetables are thoroughly cooked. Set aside.

Prepare long grain and wild rice mixture as indicated on package, then add rice to vegetable medley and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes. Spoon mixture into individual bowls and garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro before serving. Recipe serves four.