TORONTO, May 23, 2014 – Going gluten-free is a fad for some, a necessity for others. One per cent (1 %) of Canadians have celiac disease, approximately five to 10 per cent may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity while a staggering 25 per cent of consumers say they are buying more gluten-free foods1. Food fad or not, gluten-free products have exploded onto the market.

“While pre-packaged gluten-free foods are convenient for people who require this diet, many items are prepared with highly refined starches, gums and fillers, and have lots of added sugar, fat and salt,” said Cara Rosenbloom, registered dietitian. “These added ingredients are a high price to pay for convenience. Opt for natural whole foods instead, such as brown rice. It is a naturally gluten-free whole grain that is a source of fibre, B-vitamins and minerals, and is free of added sugar, fat and salt.”

Domesticated more than 9,000 years ago2, brown rice is the original gluten-free whole grain and has been a dietary staple ever since. Tasty, versatile and nutritious, brown rice is a welcome, economical addition to the whole grains portion of the plate. Specialty gluten-free foods can cost an average of 150 per cent more than regular products3; however, brown rice is half the price of most other grains.

If your family is not used to the taste of brown rice, getting them to like it is easier than you think.

Plate like a pro and your meals will taste better…so says study

To entice family members to eat healthier foods, consider how you plate their meal. A new study published in Appetite in February 2014, offers the first-ever empirical evidence that the visual attractiveness of a food served affects liking for the flavour of the meal, even for healthy foods like brown rice.

In the study, people who were served more attractive plates of food (chicken, brown rice and green beans) rated it as tastier than people who were served the same food on less attractively designed plates. We eat with our eyes first so try a few of the following plating tips to encourage consumption of healthy foods:

  • When serving rice, consider placing cooked rice in a measuring cup and then empty the rice into a neat mound on the plate to provide height and visual interest
  • Arrange a protein (meat, chicken, tofu or fish) leaning against the rice mound
  • Incorporate colourful vegetables or fruits to liven the plate
  • If you have a sauce, place it on the base of the plate or drizzle on top of the meal
  • Arrange food from the centre of the plate and then work outwards
  • Ensure garnishes are fresh and edible

Time crunched? Reduce weeknight prep time with these tips

Canadians spend 15 to 30 minutes preparing the average weeknight meal. To speed up the cooking time of brown rice, consider the following tips that will shorten weekight prep, allowing you to make healthy, tasty meals quickly. Here are three ways to make brown rice in minutes:

  1. One minute method: Try ready-to-serve pre-cooked brown rice in sealed containers, which can be found in the rice section of the grocery store. It’s ready in one minute in the microwave.
  2. Five minute method: Simply reheat frozen brown rice (yes, cooked rice can be frozen, see instructions below).
  3. Ten minute method: Buy parboiled brown rice, which boils to plump perfection in just 10 minutes.

How to Freeze and Reheat Brown Rice:

  1. Cook rice according to package directions.
  2. Let cool about 20 minutes on a flat surface, such as a baking sheet.
  3. Divide cooled rice into single-serve freezer bags or containers.
  4. Freeze.
  5. To reheat: Transfer rice to a microwave-safe container, add 1 to 2 tbsp water for each cup, cover and heat in 1 minute increments for about 3 to 5 minutes until steaming. Fluff and serve.
    Note: You do not need to thaw the rice before reheating

Consider using frozen or fresh, previously cooked, brown rice to make the following nutritious, delicious recipes:

Healthy Bibimbap Rice Bowl

Bibimbap is a traditional Korean dish that means mixed rice. Its rise in popularity might be its simplicity and flavourful kick in every mouthful. What could be easier, or more fun, than tossing vegetables, protein and rice in a bowl, crowning with an egg and then stirring together all the ingredients? Eating it! This spin on bibimbap uses brown rice to boost the nutrition profile of this no-fuss, seven-step dish.

view recipe | click here for hi-res image

Slate Grilled Chicken and Lemon Olive Rice

Slate cooking, a rustic method popularized in France, makes outdoor grilling more versatile and entertaining. Using a sizzling hot slate tile is a great way to grill chicken alongside a delicious side of brown rice, which is not often prepared on the BBQ. Using leftover, cooked or frozen brown rice speeds up the process making this an easy, healthy weeknight meal.

view recipe | click here for hi-res image

Kale, Brown Rice and Butternut Salad

Kale and brown rice are a match made in nutritional heaven. Toss in crunchy slivers of butternut squash and drizzle with this refreshing dressing for a delicious, impressive salad that is ideal for the summer or fall, lunch or dinner any day of the week.

view recipe | click here for hi-res image

Cedar-planked Salmon Stuffed with Brown Rice

Planking is easy, good for the body and deliciously rewarding in this salmon with brown rice recipe. Whether cooked on the BBQ or in the oven, the cedar infuses the salmon with a light smoky flavour and keeps it moist and tender. Consider cooking a larger portion of brown rice on the weekend, freezing it and then reheating it during the week for faster homemade meal prep.

view recipe | click here for hi-res image

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About USA Rice Federation

The USA Rice Federation is a national industry association representing producers, millers, merchants, and allied businesses. It is comprised of the USA Rice Council, USA Rice Producers’ Group, the USA Rice Millers’ Association and the USA Rice Merchants’ Association.