Aug 28, 2013

Grain Challenge - September: Rice & Wild Rice

September is not only Whole Grains Month, but also National Rice Month – and the month traditionally celebrated as Wild Rice Month, as well. While these two versatile, nutritious, gluten-free whole grains have similar names, wild rice is not actually a kind of rice, and each grain has a full story of its own. So this month we’re offering two full Grain of the Month features.
Continue reading below for our feature on rice.
Click here to access our feature on wild rice.


Rice [Oryza sativa] provides about half the calories for up to half of the world’s population, especially in parts of Asia, South America and the Indies. Worldwide, it’s second in production to corn – but first in its contribution to human food, since corn is used for many other purposes.
Rice can be traced to both South Asia and Africa, originally, but today it is grown on every continent except Antarctica. It grows everywhere from flatlands to steep mountainsides – its only requirement is plenty of water. Traditionally, rice fields are flooded to kill weeds and pests that aren’t as water-loving as the young rice plants. Then, just as the rice plants are saying, “enough water, already!” the fields are drained. Rice can actually grow without flooding, but greater pest- and weed-control measures will be needed. Want to watch a rice field growing, day by day? Click here for a cool tour from Lundberg Farms.
After rice is harvested, its inedible hull must be removed, resulting in a whole grain (often brown) rice kernel. If the rice is milled further, the bran and germ are removed, resulting in white rice, with lower levels of nutrients.
Rice is often classified by size and texture. There’s long-, medium-, and short-grain rices, with the former quite elongated and the latter nearly round. Some short-grain rices are known as “sticky” rice because of the extra amylopectin (a kind of starch) that they contain; this stickiness makes them easier to manipulate with chopsticks, and perfect for sushi. Aromatic rices have a special fragrance and taste. We’re all familiar with the wonderful fragrance of Basmati or Texmati rice; in India Ambemohar rice, with the fragrance of mango blossoms, is a big favorite.
Rice growing in fields and paddies has three edible parts – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm – just like all other whole grains. Most of us think of “brown rice” as being synonymous with whole grain rice, but in fact whole grain rice can be many different colors, depending on the variety of rice. Most rice varieties look similarly white once they’re milled to remove the bran and germ – but trace them back to their origins, and you’ll see a vibrant range of colors.
Rice growing in a field
Rice is generally grown as an annual crop, with seedlings planted or seeds sown in late spring and harvest about six months later. Flooding at various stages in the plant's life keep pests and weeds at bay. Depending on the variety and on soil and weather conditions, rice plants can grow to anywhere from 3' to 6' tall (1-2m).
Close-up of Rice Growing
In this photo, you can see the rice "heads" filling with kernels.

Long Grain Brown Rice
Long grain rice has a long, slender kernel, four to five times longer than its width.  Cooked grains are separate, light, and fluffy.
Medium Grain Brown Rice 
Medium grain rice has a shorter, wider kernel (two to three times longer than its width) than long grain rice.  Cooked grains are more moist and tender, and have a greater tendency to cling together than long grain.
Short Grain Brown Rice
Short grain rice has a short, plump, almost round kernel.  Cooked grains are soft and cling together. 
Sweet Brown Rice
Sweet rice is short and plump with a chalky white, opaque kernel.  When cooked, sweet rice loses its shape and is very sticky.
Wehani® Rice
This long-grain honey-red rice was naturally-bred and developed from an Indian Basmati-type seed. Like other aromatic rices, it has a distinctive nutty fragrance when cooked.
(Lundberg Family Farms developed this variety of rice. While we don't usually use brand names, we're including Wehani rice here to illustrate the diversity of rice varieties available, and to make the point that new varieties are being developed all the time.)
Brown Basmati Rice
India is well known for its fragrant Basmati rice, another aromatic long-grain rice with a distinct "popcorn" aroma.
Himalayan Red Rice
Also imported from India, this long-grain rice has a reddish bran layer and a nutty, complex flavor that adds visual and taste delight to any dish.
Colusari Red Rice
Grown in the Sacramento Valley of the U.S., Colusari Red Rice originated in a seed bank in Maryland. When  cooked, it adds an upscale burgundy color to the plate.
(As with the Wehani rice above, this rice was custom-developed, through natural breeding – this time, for Indian Harvest Specialtifoods.)
Purple Thai Rice
Slightly sweeter than some other rices, Purple Thai rice was traditionally used in dessert recipes, but is now turning up in savory dishes too. Add other ingredients at the last minute, unless you want them to take on the distinctive reddish-blue hue of this rice!
Chinese Black Rice
Chinese Black Rice is a medium-grain rice with white kernels inside the black bran. Cooked, it takes on a deep purplish color.
Brown rice has much higher levels of many vitamins and minerals than white rice. Click here to see a comparision of the nutrient levels in brown and white rice.  Other colored rices have similarly higher nutrient levels, but aren’t as well studied as brown rice.
Brown rice is an excellent source of manganese. Just one cup of cooked brown rice provides 88% of your daily need for manganese, a mineral that helps us digest fats and get the most from the proteins and carbohydrates we eat. Manganese also may help protect against free radicals. It’s also a good source of selenium.
Studies indicate that whole grain brown rice may
•    cut diabetes risk
•    lower cholesterol
•    helped maintain a healthy weight
Sprouting brown rice may confer additional health benefits (the most studied sprouted grain).


Cooking common varieties of brown rice is simple. In general, combine 1 cup uncooked brown rice with about two cups liquid (such as water or broth) in a 2-3 quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes. If rice is not quite tender or liquid is not absorbed, replace lid and cook 2 to 4 minutes longer. Fluff with a fork and serve. Yields 3-4 cups.
Other varieties of whole grain rice may take different amounts of time. Bhutanese red rice, for instance, takes only about 20 minutes to cook. Check the package of any rice for specific instructions. While many people swear by their rice cookers, we want everyone to know that a simple saucepan is all it takes to cook rice!
Tips for perfect rice:
  • Keep lid on pot during cooking
  • Don’t stir – unless you like sticky rice. Stirring releases extra starch. (That's the reason for all that stirring when making risotto!)
  • If rice (or any other grain) is sticking to the pot, add a little water, turn off the heat, and let it steam for a few extra minutes. Usually the rice will release from the pot.
Whole grain rice comes in many quick-cooking forms these days too. These brown rice options are partially (or completely) pre-cooked, so all you have to do is warm them up for ten minutes – or even as little as 90 seconds in the microwave. So brown rice can have a place on your table even when you’re in a hurry.
Storing and freezing brown rice. Store uncooked brown rice at room temperature for up to six months, or in your fridge or freezer for longer periods. Cooked rice can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, or in the freezer for several months. It’s easy to cook a big batch of brown rice, freeze it in batches sized for your household, and simply warm it up at mealtime.



Want to win big at Trivial Pursuit next time the subject is rice? Here's what you need to know: 
  • The Japanese word for cooked rice is the same as the word for meal.
  • In India, rice is the first food a new bride offers her husband. It is also the first food offered a newborn. There is a saying that grains of rice should be like two brothers — close, but not stuck together.
  • Instead of saying "How are you?" as a typical greeting, the Chinese ask "Have you had your rice today?"
  • There are more than 40,000 different known varieties of rice, but of these only about 100 are commonly grown world-wide, and just a few of these are commercially marketed and sold.
  • Rice is a symbol of life and fertility, which led to the tradition of throwing rice at weddings.
  • Rice is cultivated in over 100 countries and on every continent except Antarctica.
  • There are over 29,000 grains of rice in one pound of long grain rice.
  • On cooking, rice swells to at least three times its original weight.
  • 96% of the world’s rice is eaten in the area in which it is grown.
  • Thailand, Vietnam, India, and the USA are the top 4 rice-exporting countries in the world.
  • 85% of the rice consumed in the U.S. is grown there. The major rice producing states are Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Missouri.  Almost half of the U.S. rice crop is exported to over 100 countries.
  • More than 1 billion people throughout the world are actively involved in growing rice.
  • Americans eat about 26 pounds of rice per person each year. Asians eat as much as 300 pounds per person each year, while in the United Arab Emirates it is about 450 pounds, and in France about 10 pounds.
*post from

Grain Challenge: July/August - Wheat (Kamut/Spelt)

July’s Grain of the Month is Wheat. Worldwide, wheat is the third most-produced grain, trailing only corn (maize) and rice. In the United States, wheat accounts for about two-thirds of all grains consumed. However, much of the wheat we eat is refined (missing its nutritious bran and germ) or enriched (refined grain with just five of the dozens of missing or reduced nutrients added back in). So it’s important to remember that this page celebrates whole grain wheat.


Imagine you’re part of a nomadic tribe chasing wild game, and today you’ve come up empty. Nothing to do but chew on a handful of grass seeds to alleviate your hunger. But wait! This grass tastes better than the grass we used to eat… The seeds in question were from a clan of wild grasses known as Triticeae, the early ancestors of wheat, barley and rye. Some of the earliest varieties – einkorn and emmer – are still enjoyed today in the areas where they are thought to have originated: einkorn in Georgia, Armenia, and Turkey, and emmer (farro) in the Central Mediterranean. 

Einkorn is like most plants in that it is a diploid meaning it contains 2 sets of chromosomes.  About 2,000 years after einkorn wheat, emmer wheat was created by the hybridization of 2 wild grasses.  Consequently, emmer has 4 sets of chromosomes.  Kamut and Durum wheat are both descendents of emmer. Spelt is the result of hybridization between cultivated emmer and another wild grass and so contains six sets of chromosomes.  Modern wheat is a descendent of spelt. As you can see, einkorn is the purest and most ancient form of wheat available as it only has 2 sets of chromosomes (so only 14 total) and is naturally very low in gluten!

Early largely-extinct wild wheat varieties had fourteen chromosomes (diploid), ancient-but-extant varieties such as durum wheat and Kamut® have 28 chromosomes (tetraploid), while most modern wheats have forty-two chromosomes (hexaploid).
As agrarian civilization replaced hunters and gatherers, newer varieties of wheat became favorite grains for two main reasons: the seeds were easy to separate from the inedible parts of the grain, and the dough became elastic when mixed with liquid. This meant it was easy to harvest the grain, and to create a wide range of interesting foods, from breads, to porridges, to pastas using wheat.
Red Wheat BerriesTriticum aestivum L.
Individual wheat kernels are usually referred to as "wheat berries" when they're sold in stores. You can cook these whole kernels, or berries, just as you'd cook rice – to enjoy as a side dish.
Red Wheat is the most commonly-grown wheat in the U.S. An albino variety of wheat, called White Wheat, has a lighter color and milder taste but is equally nutritious.
Triticum spelta L.
Spelt is perhaps the best known of the "ancient" wheats. Some eight centuries ago, when spelt had already been cultivated for several millennia, Hildegard von Bingen wrote of spelt, "The spelt is the best of grains. It is rich and nourishing and milder than other grain. It produces a strong body and healthy blood to those who eat it and makes the spirit of man light and cheerful."  Today, once again, spelt breads and pastas are fairly widely available. 
Khorosan WheatTriticum turgidum, ssp. turanicum
Khorosan wheat, often sold under the brand name Kamut®, is considered a type of durum wheat. As part of the brand identity, Kamut® khorosan is always organic, and is higher in zinc, magnesium and especially selenium, when compared to modern wheat. Kamut® khorosan is especially popular in Italy, a country responsible for about half of world-wide production. Click here for more.
Emmer or FarroTriticum turgidum L. group dicoccum
Emmer, also known as Farro, is one of the oldest forms of wheat we know. Pliny the Elder, natural historian of the Roman Empire, wrote about emmer as already ancient in his time; he described how it was formerly called adoreum (or "glory") and played a major role in religious sacrifices.
Wheat Flakes
We're used to seeing oats in flaked (rolled) form. You may be surprised to know that wheat flakes are also widely available (we bought these at our local health food store) and make a fun addition to baked goods or a tasty breakfast cereal.
Spelt Flakes
Ditto everything above, but this time these are spelt flakes.
Kamut® Puffs
Any kind of wheat can be puffed. These puffs just happen to be made from  Kamut®. Unlike corn, amaranth, and sorghum, all of which can be puffed (think popped!) in your kitchen, it takes industrial machinery to get wheat to pop open like this.
Bulgur Wheat
Bulgur is not a variety of wheat like those above – it's a traditional way of processing wheat. To make bulgur, the wheat kernels are cooked, then dried, then broken up into smaller pieces. Because bulgur is largely pre-cooked, you can "finish it off" in your kitchen in about 15-20 minutes.
Two kinds of bulgur are pictured here: red wheat bulgur on the left and white wheat bulgur on the right.
Whole Wheat Flours
Yes, these are BOTH whole wheat flours. On the left you see traditional whole wheat flour, made from red wheat, and on the right, it's white whole wheat flour, made from white wheat.


In truth there are many, many varieties of wheat not pictured above. But these two seemed especially important to mention.
Durum Wheat [Triticum turgidum L. group Durum Desf.]
Durum is a hard wheat, high in protein, that's commonly used to make pasta and couscous. Most durum wheat grown today is amber durum, which has a delightful golden color.  Durum wheat grows well without irrigation, making it well suited to dry climates.
Einkorn [Triticum monococcum L]
Generally thought to be the most ancient of wheat varieties available today, einkorn is still grown in Austria, southern France (where it’s called petit ├ępeautre), Germany, and some eastern European countries. Studies show that compared to modern wheat it’s higher in protein, phosphorus, potassium, and beta-carotene, among other nutrients. Very low in gluten!
Did you know that some ancient wheats such as Emmer (Farro) and Einkorn may be much higher in antioxidants and may be digested differently than common wheat? (many people have problems digesting today's modern wheat, but can handle more ancient forms with less gluten).


We cook whole wheat at home in four main ways: as flour in baked goods; as wheat berries for side dishes and in casseroles; as bulgur; and as pasta or couscous. 
Flour. Whole wheat flour behaves a bit differently in recipes than refined all-purpose flour. As a rule of thumb, you can generally substitute whole wheat flour for up to half the all-purpose flour in a recipe. To make foods using more whole wheat, we recommend you start with recipes specifically designed to be their most delicious with whole wheat.
In general, whole white wheat flour is milder in flavor and smoother in texture than "regular" whole wheat flour. There are also special flours available that combine whole white wheat flour and all-purpose flour in the same bag, to make it even easier to transition your taste buds over to whole grains.
Wheat Berries. Whole wheat kernels are usually described as "wheat berries." You cook them in water or broth (about 2 1/2 cups liquid for each cup of wheat berries) for about 45-60 minutes. As always when cooking grains, taste a few as cooking progresses. When the grains are soft enough for you, they're done. You can add more liquid and cook longer, or drain extra liquid off if the grains are done to your taste before all the liquid is absorbed.
Bulgur. Bulgur is wheat that's been pre-cooked and broken into pieces, so you can quickly "finish it off" in your kitchen. Generally, you can simply add boiling water or broth to bulgur (about 1 3/4 to 2 cups liquid per cup of bulgur) and let it soak for about 20-25 minutes in a covered pot.
Pasta and couscous: Couscous is not a grain (there is no couscous plant!) – it's more like a small grain-shaped pasta. Whole wheat couscous is so small it can usually be "cooked" simply by soaking in boiling water, while pasta takes about 8 minutes to cook.


Try kamut or spelt in any recipe to substitute for wheat. Or if you have digestive issues with some of today's modern wheat, try soaked grain recipes. 



some of this info from the Whole Foods Council


2 c. flour (whole grain)
1/4 c.  sweetener (if liquid, mix with wet ingredients)
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. sea salt
2 T butter
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. walnuts, chopped
1 c. buttermilk (or milk with 1t. lemon juice, or yogurt/water)
1. Mix dry ingredients together; cut in butter until crumbly.
2. Stir in cranberries and walnuts.
3. Carefully stir in buttermilk to form a ball.  Knead lightly a few times until sticky--don't overknead)
4. Divide dough in half.  On a lightly floured surface, pat or roll each portion into an 8” round, about 1/2” thick.  Cut each round into 8 triangles.  Place the scones on the baking sheet.  Brush the tops with buttermilk.  Sprinkle with a pinch of brown sugar, if desired.  Bake for 14 – 18 minutes.  Serve warm. 
**We like to make this when we drink our infusions (herbal tea). It's like a cookie biscuit.

Aug 15, 2013

Basic frittata (dairy-free)

Our whole family loves quiche and frittata and mom makes it all the time. However, I've been a little dismayed by all the recipes out there always using tons of milk and cream and cheese, etc. And I don't like taking lots of time in the morning, so I rarely like doing a crust, though they are yummy additions. So I finally have refined my quiche recipe to what works for me and is super moist. Paul said it was his favorite quiche...which surprised me, since there's no yummy extras that would generally make it so, according to others.

There is no crust. And the bread inside it kind of disappears and makes it very moist! But, here it is--again, no milk or cheese, so don't use this recipe if you're dying to have those in it.

2-4 bread slices, broken in pieces (4 is more moist; I use light sprouted wheat bread--like white)
2 T butter, melted in glass dish
5 eggs (you can use 4 if needed)
1c.+ water (I'll add a few extra Tablespoons of water so it's 1 1/4, but not needful, esp if only 4 eggs)
1/2 c.+ cooked ground pork sausage (or bacon, but the flavor isn't as savory)
1/2 onion, diced (or just dash of powder to save time)
1 garlic clove, minced (or powder to save time)
2 handfuls spinach, cut into thin strips so it's small
1/2 c. red pepper, diced (opt.)
1/4 t. sage powder (optional--with bacon--but super yummy with sausage! Fresh sage = 1 t.)
salt and pepper to taste

1 c cubed baked potato pieces

1. Put butter into the glass pie pan and place in oven while it preheats to 350 (watch so it doesn't burn). Pull it out and make sure butter covers the whole pan.
2. Mix egg and water together in a bowl.
3. Add remaining ingredients.
4. Pour into greased pie pan and bake for 30 minutes.

double the amount of eggs for feeding larger family/guests and put in 9x13 dish.