There is nothing I like better than starch. I have no idea why God made me this way, but she sure as heck did! And for that very reason this is the kind of dish that I simply can not resist! But I should at least try, especially when we dine out at one of our favorite restaurants! After all, I’m not getting any younger. Any lingering dreams of ever weighing 128 lbs. again like I did in college have gone the way of the dodo bird. (With just about as much grace as one of those extinct flightless birds, I might add!) But seriously, I almost always look at a menu with an eye to what kind of starch is being served with each entrée. And routinely, even if the entrée features one of my favorites, like duck, if the starchy side dish is not to my liking, I will pass on that duck dish as fast as Superman can save Lois Lane from the arms of the Mad Hatter. (I don’t get out much, so please excuse if I don’t have all the names of Superman’s arch enemies down pat!)
But that’s restaurant dining where I tend to indulge myself. When I want the same kind of starchy side dish at home, I tend to be much more realistic about the ingredients I use and the preparation method. I use much less fat, much less salt, and try to incorporate other ingredients to ramp up the nutritional content. But I refuse to skimp on the flavor. I want my starchy side dishes to have as much flavor as any dish I can order in a restaurant.
So in truth, this pilaf is pretty healthy for being a part of the class of dishes thought by some to be detrimental to good health. (You know, the wicked starch prejudice thing.) But in truth, brown rice is a fairly nutritious ingredient. And there is very little fat in this dish, and even then it’s good fat, along with some vegetable action in the form of onion, garlic, and vegetable stock. And last but not least, nutrient rich almonds which help promote heart health. All things considered, not a bad choice as a fairly healthy side dish. Of course, there is still the small matter of the number of calories in a serving of this pilaf, but no dish is perfect! So when I serve this pilaf I keep my portion fairly small. But even a small serving is enough to assuage my starch cravings and not coincidentally get some well needed vitamins and minerals into my body. So give this ever so tasty brown rice dish a try. Even if you are strongly committed to white rice and have never enjoyed the flavor of brown rice or worse yet even given brown rice a try, I am positive you will be pleasantly surprised. You will soon become an advocate for this amazing grain.
Some interesting facts about the difference between brown rice and white rice:
According to the www.whfoods.org web site (the “wh” stands for world’s healthiest), “Our food ranking system qualified brown rice as an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and niacin (vitamin B3). The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. By law in the United States, fully milled and polished white rice must be “enriched” with vitamins B1, B3, and iron. But the form of these nutrients when added back into the processed rice is not the same as in the original unprocessed version, and at least 11 lost nutrients are not replaced in any form even with rice “enrichment.”
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 c. long grain brown rice
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ½ c. vegetable broth (I use 2½ cups water and 2 teaspoons Better Then Bouillon Vegetable Base)
- ¼ c. slivered almonds, toasted, opt.
Pour oil into a small covered sauce pan. Add onion and garlic and fry for about 4 minutes. Add rice and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the broth (or water and bouillon base), and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 45-50 minutes. Stir rice occasionally. (If the rice is not done after 45 minutes and there is still a lot of liquid, remove the cover and cook an additional 10-15 minutes.) When the liquid has all been absorbed and the rice is tender, remove from heat, adjust seasonings, and let stand for about 5 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the toasted almonds.