Let’s talk rice for a minute, guys. I eat a Babe Bowl almost every day, and rice is a Babe Bowl staple for me, especially on days I workout and need some extra carbs. It’s my base. My foundation. And it tastes good with just about everything. But I don’t often eat brown rice, which may come as a shock to you since I preach so much on getting at least 5 g of fiber with every meal and snack. Brown contains fiber, white rice does not. But, to me, brown rice is chewy and nutty and while some LOVE this about brown rice, I. do. not. I think it sucks, and if you’re with me, keep reading, because I think you’re gonna like what I have to say.
*Side note: if you eat brown rice, GOOD FOR YOU! Keep it up! But keep reading, because I’m going to make a case for white rice and I think I might just convince you to throw it on your grocery list.*
“But Megan, but Megan, white rice has NO NUTRITIONAL VALUE.”
I get it, everything you know about ‘white foods’ aka ‘white satan’ says that white rice is basically eating empty calories. But that’s because you may not be eating the right kind of white rice. The right kind of white rice is actually really good for you, and I guarantee it’s at your grocery store. It’s called parboiled rice. If you look closely at a lot of your basic white rice varieties, you can see on the label if it’s regular rice or if it’s parboiled rice. A lot of Uncle Ben’s rices are parboiled, and I know you know Ben.
So, what’s the difference between white, brown and parboiled rice?
Note: all rice varieties contain a ‘hull’ which must be removed before we can eat it.
Brown rice retains the inner seed coating called rice bran, which is where all the fiber and a many nutrients live. It’s also what makes brown rice brown.
White rice is stripped of the rice bran, which is why it’s less chewy and…white. It’s also why white rice contains very little fiber and must be artificially fortified with vitamins and minerals in order to contain any nutrients.
Parboiled rice (also known as converted rice) is soaked, steamed and dried before the hull is removed. This process totally alters the look and nutritional content of the rice. The grain is somewhat transparent, and it’s less sticky than other types of rice. It also allows some nutrients to transfer from the hull into the grain, so it contains some of the fiber and nutrients that both white and brown rice do not (especially B vitamins).
So, while parboiled rice has about half the amount of fiber as brown rice, it contains a lot more nutrients because the process of parboiling actually transfers nutrients from the hull to the rice grain that we eat. But, this isn’t why I choose parboiled rice over brown, because you know I’m a pretty big fan of fiber and I wouldn’t necessarily throw it to the curb for a few extra B vitamins. There’s still more to the story here.
Something crazy happens when parboiled rice is cooked, then cooled.
It becomes what is called a “resistant starch”. Resistant starches are a type of prebiotic. No, not probiotic, prebiotic. Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates that feed several strains of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Gut health is so so important because it directly impacts the functioning the immune system. And I’m not just talkin’ protecting you from colds, I’m talking about protecting the overall health of your entire body.
So, resistant starches are really good for our guts, and guys, we gotta take care of our guts. I’ll save this for a later post, but I don’t believe taking probiotics are necessary as long as we’re eating the right foods, like parboiled rice! But here’s the one, weird trick – the rice must be cooled first in order for it to be converted to a resistant starch. But we’re cool with that because we’re prepping our rice ahead of time, right? Right.
Parboiled rice = a happy, healthy gut = a high functioning immune system = a happy Megan.
But let’s get real and talk about what’s really interesting about parboiled rice (yes, there’s more!). We know that parboiled rice is a resistant starch, and research has shown that resistant starch might contribute to weight loss. Why? Because they’re awesome blood sugar controllers. We love blood sugar control! It’s why we’re all here! OK maybe you’re not all as excited about controlling blood sugar as I am, but you should be (check out The Blood Sugar Diet to find out why). There definitely still needs to be more research to prove whether or not it can actually affect body weight, but I’m certainly down with anything that can keep my blood sugar in check, because I know having stable blood sugar levels gives me energy and makes me feel good.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, a better-than-Chipotle Cilantro Rice recipe that’s GOOD for you. Now, I don’t over-do it on starchy carbs because too many starchy carbs aren’t great for keeping blood sugar levels stable, but in moderation and especially on days you work out, it’s a totally healthy thing to have a couple times a day. I eat rice just about every day that I work out for extra energy and #bootygainz.
This rice is so so easy, but will mix up your current boring rice routine. It’s a Babe Bowl staple for all of my Mexican or Thai inspired dishes. Or, I’m happy to use it anytime I’m just throwing a bunch of food into a bowl and heating it up on my way out the door. It’s super flavorful, good for you and takes only a few minutes of prep.
- 1 c parboiled rice
- 1⅓ c water
- 1 tsp salt
- Cilantro Slurry
- 1 c chopped cilantro
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp salt
- Place rice, water and 1 tsp salt into a saucepan turn heat up to high.
- Once rice is boiling, cover, turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove rice from heat, give it a quick stir, cover again and let sit for 5 minutes.
- While the rice is resting, place cilantro, lime juice, water and salt into a food processor or mini blender and blend into a slurry.
- If you need to add more water, add a another tablespoon at a time (you can also add more lime, instead, if you like things really lime-y, like me!)
- Add the cilantro slurry to the rice and mix well.
- Taste, adjust seasonings, and add more lime if you'd like!
- Top with more chopped cilantro.