Wide World of Whole Grains

Let’s talk about brown rice. It gets a pretty bad rap. Some people suffer through it because it’s a health food, but most people dismiss it immediately and just stick with white rice or nothing. Rice has been available for human consumption for over 5,000 years. The average American eats about ten pounds of rice over the course of a year. In Asia, that number is closer to 100 pounds. Most of that rice is white.

But I have news: brown rice is actually delicious.

As someone who grew up in a Cuban household, white rice is the go-to starch–black beans and rice, arroz con pollo, albondigas y arroz--the list goes on. And the brown rice you find popping up at restaurants and in the Uncle Ben’s instant packages don’t make me want to ditch the white rice either.

And yet… I know the facts. Brown rice is a whole grain. Because only the hull is removed, brown rice is the healthiest rice product. As it turns out, if you take care of your brown rice and cook it properly, it can be just as tasty as its white bi-product.

Some notes for properly preparing whole grains:

  • Because they still contain the protein-rich germ, whole grains smell slightly sweet or have no odor and need to be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to keep fresh. If you’re going to use it soon after purchasing it, store it in a cool, dry place.
  • Rinse whole grains in a strainer in a water-filled bowl before using. Change the water repeatedly until it is clear. While rinsing, sift through the grains with your fingers to make sure there are no small rocks in the mix.
  • Toast your grains before cooking them in order to bring out the sweet nuttiness that gives whole grains their special flavor.
  • When cooking whole grains for a salad, like wheat berries, cook in salted boiling water like pasta.

With the bounty of fresh produce that’s coming our way, try serving some of those tasty greens on top of a bed of farro or freekeh this week. Or, check out my recipe for great brown rice below.


1 cup long grain brown rice

1 3/4 cups water

pinch of salt


Wash and drain rice (as explained above).

In a saucepan on medium heat, roast the rice until it is dry and slightly aromatic. Do not use any fat (butter, oil, etc.) and be careful not to let it burn. This should only take a couple of minutes.

Boil the water and add the boiling water and salt to the rice. Cover and return to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes without lifting the lid. Turn off the heat and let it steam for 15 more minutes without removing the lid.

Fluff with a fork and serve.

Keep on Noshing

Curry Coconut Chicken with Split Peas

I didn’t grow up with spices like turmeric, curry or even cumin, but the more I have tried experimenting with these ...

Valentine’s Day Recipe: Manischewitz Pasta

It’s February. You’re going about life as usual. Work, eat, sleep. Eat, sleep, work. Eat some more. Then you realize ...

Dairy Made Easy: Hasselback Baguette

We are currently in the midst of “The Three Weeks,” a time of grieving for Jews in remembrance of the ...