Happy New Year!!
To celebrate the new year, my fiance and I are making a pledge to eat healthier. People assume that Japanese food is healthy but really it can be just as junk ridden as food anywhere else in the industrialized world. You wouldn't believe the amount of products with HFCS and the like in it. So let the healthy eating begin!Brown rice might seem like a lame thing to be posting about, but you still have entire nations that don't know that brown rice kicks the ass of white rice any day of the week. White rice is just as bad as bleached flour, a bunch of essentially empty carb calories. But with brown rice your stomach gets an instant injection of thiamine, magnesium, iron and more. In fact, if you want to avoid Beriberi Disease, brown rice is the way to go!
So what makes brown rice brown and white rice white? Brown rice is basically the rice straight off the stalk; just the husk has been removed. White rice has the bran and germ removed, which is where the vast majority of rice's nutrients come from. So why the heck do we eat white rice? Probably for the same reasons we eat white bread and deep fried Coca Cola, we're idiots!
One important thing to remember about brown rice (and whole grains in general) is they do go rancid quickly. If you don't think you'll use your brown rice often, keep it in the fridge or cook large batches in advance and freeze them into individual servings.
How to Prepare
Hopefully you have a rice cooker. If you do, just fill your rice cup with brown rice, dump it in the cooker, and fill the water to the brown rice line. Push start and you're good to go! If you don't have a rice cooker, you should run out and buy one RIGHT NOW. But in the meantime, boil four cups of water, throw in one cup of brown rice, cover, and cook for 40 minutes or until the water has disappeared like magic and you have fluffy rice.
There's also the GABA system, which most modern rice cookers have a button for. You basically stew the brown rice in warm water for 20 hours before cooking, causing the rice to germinate and release more nutritional goodness. I've never tried this since my rice cooker is ancient and needs to be put out to pasture but once I buy a new rice cooker I definitely plan on getting one with a GABA function.
Easy Brown Rice Recipe
For this recipe, we're going to cheat altogether and use puffed brown rice. Normally a bland cereal your hippie aunt would force you to eat, we're going to transform it into magical deliciousness.
Homemade Granola Bars
Makes about 24 bars
- 2 cups oats
- 1/2 cup wheat germ OR rice bran (if you live in Japan, you can pick this up for free at any Ookini Shokudou!) OR ground flaxseed etc etc (this is going to help act like cement for the bars)
- 1 cup puffed brown rice 玄米パフ (can find in the cereal aisle of Japanese supermarkets and Whole Foods)
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds OR sunflower seeds OR shredded coconut
- 1 cup crushed almonds OR peanuts OR walnuts (I think you're getting the idea)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- large handful of dried cranberries OR raisins OR chocolate chips blah blah etc etc
1. Mix together the oats, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, and nuts in a baking dish with sides. Toast them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that they don’t get burned. (If you don't have an oven, toast them on your stove with your frying pan).
2. Line a glass baking dish with parchment paper.
3. Put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken. Stirring is important, you don't want it to burn!
4. Mix everything together in a large bowl. Your toasty goods, your gooey goods, and your fruity goods.
5. Mix everything like you're making Rice Krispies Treats. The better you coat everything with the sugar mix, the better your granola bars will hold together. Next, put your mix onto your prepped parchment paper.
7. Just like Rice Krispies Treats, spread everything out evenly in the dish with a wooden spoon. Then use another piece of parchment paper to press down on the bars like you're attempting to make diamonds out of them. The tighter you press them together, the better they'll hold up!
8. Wait 2-3 hours until the bars have cooled down completely. Remove the top layer of parchment paper, and lift the granola out onto a cutting board.
9. Cut it up into bars and wrap them up for chowing on whenever you need a snack!
This recipe can be modded easily for whatever your tastes are. I've made them with peanut butter and chocolate chips and I've made them with toasted soy nuts and dried figs. Whatever you fancy can be done!