Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends 5 to 12 servings of grain products per day. One cup of rice provides 2 servings of grain products. The Canadian diet should provide 55 per cent of energy as carbohydrates including cereal, breads, and other grain products, fruits and vegetables.

Rice is an inexpensive staple in any kitchen and a hot item on the grocery shelf. Over the last 15 years in Canada, we’ve seen an increase of over 100 per cent in rice consumption, about 17.6 pounds/person annually. Low in calories and virtually fat free; this ancient grain is filling, and a source of energy-sustaining complex carbohydrates and B vitamins.

When cooking rice, always cook up a double batch so you’re guaranteed a quick and easy meal solution another day. Rice can be easily refrigerated or frozen, and reheated in minutes. It’s so easy, just toss in your favourite ingredients or leftover chicken and vegetables-versatile rice takes on the flavours of your fridge.

Brown Rice is low in fat. It is a source of dietary fibre, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, phosphorus and zinc. It is also a source of magnesium. The advantages of brown rice are its much higher fibre content and the presence of vitamins and minerals that are lost in white rice. The disadvantage is its longer cooking time and its perishability; Brown rice must be refrigerated and used within a month.

White rice offers two advantages – yearlong shelf life and relatively quick cooking. It is fat-free. When cooked without salt, it is sodium free. Long grain regular rice has the best nutrient value of the white rice and is a source of niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc.

Rice Bran is high in dietary fibre and sodium-free. It is a source of Vitamin E, folacin, zinc and potassium, and a good source of pantothenic acid, and an excellent source of thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.

Care, Storage and Reheating

Uncooked Rice

Milled Rice – regular-milled, parboiled or pre-cooked- if stored properly, will keep almost indefinitely on the pantry shelf. Once opened, rice should be stored in a tightly closed container that keeps out dust, moisture, and other contaminants.

Brown Rice – because of the oil in the bran layer, it has a limited shelf life- approximately 6 months. For extended storage, a cool place, such as a refrigerator or freezer, is recommended.

Cooked Rice

Storage – Cooked rice can spoil and is subject to food poisoning so needs to be refrigerated. If not eaten immediately, cooked rice should be stored in a shallow container, covered tightly, and refrigerated. Cooked rice can be kept in the refrigerator for six days or frozen for up to six months.

Reheating Rice – Cooked rice, which has been properly cooled and refrigerated or frozen, may be reheated. For each cup of cooked rice, add 2 tbsp (25 mL) liquid. Cover and heat on the stove or in the oven for about 5 minutes or until heated through. In a microwave, cover and cook on High about 1 minute per cup, or until heated through. Frozen rice may be cooked 2 minutes on High power for each cup. Fluff with a fork.

Rice Stir Ins

Here are some quick and easy ways to create new and exciting dishes by adding a “pinch” of this and a “handful” of that to hot, cooked rice. Great twists for leftover rice that don’t require a lot of time or ingredients:

Baked, but not Potato: Add crumbled bacon and sour cream.

How Sweet It is: Add cinnamon, sugar and butter.

Maui Wowi: Add crushed pineapple and green pepper slices.

Cantonese Please: Add broccoli flowerets, sesame oil, and chopped toasted cashews.

Rice Ole: Add black beans, minced red onion, chopped sweet pepper, chopped cilantro, and vinaigrette.

Veggie Medley: Add garbanzo beans, shredded carrots, ripe pitted olives, parsley, and ricotta cheese.

Mock Apple Cobbler: Add sliced apples, cinnamon, brown sugar, chopped nuts, and vanilla yogurt.

South of the Border: Add diced tomatoes, sliced green onions, shredded Monterey Jack cheese and chopped cilantro.

Let’s Salsa: Add cooked beans, salsa and shredded cheese.

By Barb Sanderson, Home Economist

For more information, contact: R.I.C.E. Information Centre & Educational Resources, Mississauga, ON Tel (905) 206-0577, Fax: (905) 206-0581, or check website @http://www.riceinfo.com