If you are anything like me, I know you were mortified to hear about the high levels of arsenic found in rice. This includes brown and white, organic and regular, long and short-grain as well as products made from it including cereal, rice drinks, baby food, etc… Long-term exposure has been found to increase your risk for heart disease, kidney failure and many cancers. Before I continue, I should explain that arsenic is an element found in nature, and in man-made products, including some pesticides. Low levels are found in our soil, water and air which explains how it made it’s way into our food.
For many cultures, rice is a staple and so it’s hard to figure out how to move beyond this side dish. I promise you there are many options. First, you can incorporate seasonal root vegetables such as squash, beets, zucchini, potatoes, etc. This is the perfect time to do so as they are abundant, always on sale this time of year, and taste delicious without much effort. Need more options? Click here for a cool online calendar of seasonal produce. Another option is to diversify your grains by introducing other dishes (which also happen to be gluten-free) to your meals including amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa. And remember, the goal is to reduce your portion size and frequency of consumption. I’ve been having lots of fun thinking of new side dishes, you can check them out here on instagram.
That leads me to my next point. At the SPEACH, we believe the best way to achieve long-term success it to ease into new habits. As a result of the new findings, I did the opposite of what you might think… I went out and purchased rice! BUT it was whole grain rice blend variety which includes wild rice. My family is already used to eating brown rice so this was opportunity to kick it up a notch. And, as you will see by the recipe below, I soaked the heck out of it. According to Dr. Oz, it can reduce arsenic levels by up to 30%. And guess what? Wild rice is not even a grain. Actually it is the seed of a native North American long-grain marsh grass. It has a delicious nutty flavor, a chewy texture and looks beautiful (particularly during the Fall) when paired with other seasonal items on your plate. And if that doesn’t entice you, it contains almost twice the protein and fiber as brown rice, and is also high in B vitamins, manganese, zinc, potassium, phosphorous and magnesium, while being relatively low in calories.
Related Posts: “Keepin It Real” Recipes
Autumn Whole Grain Rice Blend with Peas and Carrots
Yield: 2 cups
Total Time: 55 minutes
2 Cups Whole Grain Rice Blend
2 Cups Vegetable Stock
2 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Reduced-Sodium Tamari
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Fresh Carrots (I used purple because they're pretty!)
1/2 Cup Frozen Organic Sweet Peas
1-1" Slice of Kombu
- Begin by placing 2 cups of rice in a large bowl and rinsing it until the water runs clear, then set aside for overnight soaking. In the morning rinse again. And finally rinse one more time before cooking.
- If using a rice cooker: add all ingredients (except the carrots and peas) and cover until it shuts off automatically.
- If using a pot: Put all ingredients into the pot with tight-fitting lid. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, peel and cut the carrots into thin medallions, and work on the other items that you are pairing with your meal (tip: you can also utilize this time to set your table and take care of any dishes used during preparations!)
- After 45 minutes or when the rice cooker shuts off, fluff your rice with a fork and then add the sliced carrots and sweet peas. Cover for an additional 10 minutes.
- Discard Kombu and serve. Bon appétit!