Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...
Part of a healthy lifestyle is a healthy diet. Joshua Rosenthal, author of Integrative Nutrition, suggests increasing whole grains as a means to increase your life energy, particularly if you follow his 10 tips to get the most from your grains. Here are his secrets to cooking the best grains as well as his recipe for Very Easy Fried Rice.
Cut the processed junk foods, not the carbs
Though many fashionable Western diet theories advise people to cut the carbs to lose weight, some of the world's healthiest and slimmest cultures consume grains as a staple in their diets.
Rosenthal points out that whole grains have been a central element of the human diet since the beginning of time, particularly when agrarian societies took root. Whole grains are not the culprit in the obesity crisis in the United States.
He says, "People are gaining weight today because they eat too much chemicalized, artificial junk food, and consume too much caffeine, sugar, nicotine and alcohol. Oddly enough, people will eat all kinds of junk food, while skipping natural, whole grains, which might significantly benefit their health."
Whole grains maintain your blood sugar
According to Rosenthal, whole grains can help Americans with one of their basic health problems, an inability to maintain a steady level of blood sugar. Whole grains, as opposed to processed grains, release sugar into the blood stream slowly.
Refined sugar products, white flour products and sodas release sugar in a sudden rush that ultimately ends in an energy crash. Steady blood sugar will not only keep you energized and in a good mood, it can prevent you from overeating and gaining weight.
Consume a variety of grains
Instead of instant white rice, which has very little nutritional value, try a variety of different rices and whole grains. Amaranth, brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff are all wholesome grains that will add taste and texture to your meals, not to mention nutritional value.
Get the most from your grains
Here are Rosenthal's top 10 tips for cooking whole grains.
1. Go organic. Use organic, unrefined whole grains. As with all foods, quality matters.
2. Keep fresh. Store your grains in an airtight container at in a cool dry place.
3. Rinse and rinse again. Gently wash your grains in cold water. According to Rosenthal, this reawakens their dormant energy.
4. Soak. Place rinsed grains in cold water and let them soak for at least one and up to 12 hours. This will eliminate phytic acid and help with digestion.
5. Toast for flavor. Place grains in a dry skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring, until they smell nutty. Toasting enhances their natural flavor, allows them to cook more evenly and decreases bitterness.
6. Season naturally. Use a pinch of sea salt or add pieces of sea vegetables. This adds flavor and nutritional value.
7. Add healthy fat. Add just a splash of heart-healthy olive oil to help prevent grains from sticking together and to add a mild flavor.
8. Let them be. While grains are steaming in the pot, do not stir them. Stirring makes them mushy and lets cooking water evaporate too quickly.
9. Simmer on low. When grains hit boiling point, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for the suggested time.
10. Let them rest. Fluff cooked grains in the cooking pot, allowing them to gently steam. Cover for 10 minutes before serving.
The 11th secret: Rosenthal says your energy as a cook is just as important as the quality of the ingredients that you are using. Keep your energy positive and joyful around food. What you put into the food will come back when you eat it. Be a happy cook!
Very Easy Fried Rice
Put your grain cooking skills to the test and cook long grain brown rice following Rosenthal's top 10 tips, then transform it into this delicious but simply made fried rice. Fried rice is a tasty change for breakfast (be sure to add the eggs) and can be enjoyed as a side dish for many main meals.
Ingredients: 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 small onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 carrot, diced 1/2 bunch scallions or green onions 1 tablespoon grated fresh gingerroot 4 cups cooked long grain brown rice Water 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Directions: 1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add garlic and carrot and cook, stirring for 4 minutes. Add scallions and ginger and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes.
2. Add rice and sprinkle with water to give it a little extra steam. Add tamari and sesame oil and lower heat to medium low. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally, to blend the flavors. Serve warm.
TIP: Beat a couple of eggs together with the tamari and sesame oil. Pour this mixture into the pan and move it around quickly with a fork to spread the egg as it gently cooks.