In the post where I discussed MyPlate and some basic tips for eating healthy, I briefly mentioned that you should consume more whole grains and ditch refined. Although this may seem like no biggie, for those who’re extremely attached to white bread, white rice, baked goods, etc, this is no easy task. Take Tim for instance. He wanted to have nothing to do with whole wheat bread, brown rice, and so on, but now he chooses them even without me nagging at him. Well, except for one..when it comes to rice, he likes it white as snow. Personally, I appreciate and embrace the nutty, hearty flavor of whole grains.
There are so many varieties of whole grains…barley, wheat berry, buckwheat, millet, oats, brown rice, spelt, farro, rye, sorghum…to name a few.
While shopping at Homegoods (gotta love that place!), I came across this cookbook.
What a glorious find! As the authors’ mission is to make whole grains the heart of a recipe’s flavors, it challenges you to think beyond oats. Not only do the recipes appeal to me and the pictures make me salivate, I love the informative, in-depth look at each grain – What’s the history? Flavor? Presoak or not? Preferred cooking method?…
I’m so inspired by this book that I decided it would be great to showcase each of the whole grains and include a easy, healthful recipe to go along with it.
To kick things off, I want to talk about brown rice. Why? As a Korean, rice is ubiquitous. Growing up, I don’t ever recall a day without rice in the house. Even if there was nothing to eat, the pot in the rice maker was never lonely.
White rice was all that I knew for most of my life. However, as we’re becoming more health-conscious and aware of the benefits of whole grains, white rice is no longer as common in homes and restaurants. In fact, at our house, the rice is getting “scarier” and darker as Tim would say.
Whole-grain rice is far superior to the white rice, not only in terms of nutrition but also in taste. It’s distinctively bold, nutty and has a chewy texture. While rice is usually served as a side dish along with kimchi, various side dishes, and soup, it should take center stage more often.
Right now, I want to share with you a recipe that’s super easy to prepare and takes no time at all. This is a versatile recipe that can be adjusted according to your taste. Throw in any other vegetables that you like (I think broccoli would be an excellent choice), different protein sources, etc.
Brown Rice Kung Pao Chicken Salad
adapted from Grain Mains
- 2 1/4 cups water *
- 1 cup long-grain brown rice, such as brown basmati or jasmine *
- Mushrooms of your choice
- 1 Tbs sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp salt & pepper
- 2 tsp EVOO
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 med yellow onion, sliced thinnly
- 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped
- 1 1/2- 2 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbs rice vinegar
- 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
- 3 Tbs green onion, chopped
- 2 tsp honey
* If you have a rice maker (which I highly recommend), use 3 cups cooked rice.
- Combine water and rice in med sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 40 min, or until rice is tender and the water has been absorbed. Set aside, covered, to steam for 10 min.
- Meanwhile, coat a large nonstick skillet with 2 tsp EVOO and heat grill pan over medium heat. Rub the sesame oil and s+p into the chicken breasts. Chop them into bite-sized pieces for quick cooking. Cook in the pan until well browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Sauté sliced onions and mushrooms in the same pan to pick up all the brown bits left behind, approx 5 min or until onions are translucent and slightly caramelized and the mushrooms are softened.
- In a small bowl, mix together soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar, honey, green onion, and peanuts.
- Dump the cooked rice along with all the ingredients into a bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Serve.
So there you have it – quick, delicious, and nutritious.
My challenge to you – consciously eat more whole grains, and not just as an after thought. Stay tuned for more in my “whole grains series.”