Grains

Whole grains are whole foods.  This simply means that these grains are less processed; the only thing done to them is that the inedible hull is removed.  What’s left is a beautifully built little grain.  This (usually not white) version has it’s germ and bran intact.  That’s where you’ll find the B vitamins, Vitamin E and fiber.  Whole grains in general are complex carbs meaning they burn slowly in the body.  That’s good. Whole grains contain phytic acids which bind with minerals in the digestive tract and escort them out of the body.  This leads to bone loss among other deficiencies.  To prevent this from happening, it’s essential to 1) soak 2) sprout or 3) ferment the grain.  Since I cook rice the most often, I usually just soak it overnight.  1cup rice:2 cups water + 1T of lemon juice or vinegar.  This simple process increases B6 by 40%!

Long Grain Brown Rice:

Rice; the staple food of my childhood.  To be honest, as a kid I never saw long grain brown rice.  The staple food of my childhood was white rice.  It wasn’t uncommon to eat it for all 3 meals.  As long as there was rice in the house, all was well.  It’s still like that at my mom’s…except now she cooks long grain brown rice:)

Brown rice is a whole food.  White rice isn’t.  Just get used to eating brown rice, whether is long or short grain, basmati or jasmine.  You’ll acquire a taste for it and never go back because the white stuff will taste like styrofoam.  Seriously.

To prepare:  We’ll work with 1 C rice.  Rinse rice thoroughly.  Place it in a bowl or saucepan and fill with water.  Swish around for a bit until water gets cloudy.  Discard water and repeat until the water is clear.  Then, soak the rice in 2 C water and 1T acid for at least 8 hours.  (Do it overnight if you remember.)

To cook:  Place water AND soaking water in a saucepan, add a pinch of salt and a 1T of olive oil.  Over high heat, let it come to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid.  Let the rice cook on low heat for about 35-40min.  You’ll want to check it quickly because you don’t want too much of that steam escaping from the saucepan.  You’re looking for dry rice (water has completely evaporated) and for “holes” throughout.  See pic.  Please do not stick a spoon or any other utensil into the pot to stir.  Leave the rice alone and it will do what you want it to…cook to perfection.

(For a more al dente rice, use 1 3/4 C water (or stock) instead.)

*This is not how I was taught to cook rice in school, so to all my chefs, sorry!  It’s just that this is the way the rice ALWAYS comes out perfectly for me.

P.S. Sometimes I forget to soak or I decide day of that I want rice. It doesn’t happen often, so I don’t beat myself up about it. In this case though I rinse as above and dry toast in saucepan then add oil and salt and let it get fragrant and yummy before adding water. To reduce potential stickiness, you could boil the 2C water before adding it to the rice. Everything else stays the same:)
Quinoa:

To prepare:  We’ll work with 1 C quinoa.  There is argument about this step, but I always do it because I have found a difference in taste so here it is.  Place quinoa in a bowl and fill with water.  Swish around for a bit until water gets sudsy.  Let soak for 15-20 minutes then rinse thoroughly.  (I do this for all quinoa.)

To cook:  Place quinoa and 2 C water or stock in a saucepan, add a pinch of salt and a 1T of olive oil.  Over high heat, let it come to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover.  Quinoa will be done in about 15 minutes.  You’ll know it’s done when the quinoa is fluffy and the seeds have “germinated”.  Alternatively, after rinsing, you can dry toast (I usually add oil in this stage when quinoa is mostly dry) until aromatic before adding liquid.

Polenta:

Often associated with Italian cuisine, polenta has a much further reach than our Mediterranean Mecca of foods.  (Well, one of our Meccas anyway!)  Polenta is usually the coarsest grind of dried corn, but corn meal, corn flour and atole are all versions of the same thing, just a much finer grind.  We know that these goods are used all over the Americas from tortillas to tamales, cakes (tortas) to soups, etc.

To prepare:  Just be sure you’re using the right grind for what you want!  This cooking method is for polenta (=the coarse grind) though corn meal could be added for a smoother, creamier texture.  Also, there is soft and hard polenta.  The soft is creamy and eaten in a bowl with whatever topping you’re planning.  (It’s DELISH for breakfast!)  Hard polenta is usually cut up and grilled or baked and served in pieces.  Both are delicious and each has their own purpose.

To cook:  Hard Polenta:

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