Tue, Mar

Mom Always Said "Eat Your Veggies", But What About Your Whole Grains?

Every cause has a day, or month, and why should grains be any different? So, courtesy of the Whole Grains Council, and the US Rice Federation, September is now, officially, the first-ever National Whole Grains Month.

ARLINGTON, Va. - Every cause has a day, or month, and why should grains be any different? So, courtesy of the Whole Grains Council, and the US Rice Federation, September is now, officially, the first-ever National Whole Grains Month.

But, there are lots of other good reasons to eat whole grains too.

Whole grains have the entire grain intact and help reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, type II diabetes and potentially aid in weight maintenance. Whole grains also contain phytonutrients, trace minerals, and more fiber than their enriched counterparts. This September, the group suggests you celebrate with 100 percent whole grain brown rice, a versatile great-tasting familiar whole grain that partners well with other healthy foods.

Cynthia Harriman director of food and nutrition strategies at the Whole Grains Council says, "Eating better is not an all-or-nothing choice; every little improvement helps."

September is also National Rice Month. This healthy global staple has an acient history and dates back over 5,000 years. Rice is an ancient cereal grain that sustains more than half of the world's population. It provides energy, carbohydrates, fiber, antioxidant phytonutrients and vitamins and minerals that are essential for life, is the perfect foundation for today's healthier eating.


"Brown Rice is a 100% whole grain that is familiar to consumers," said Anne Banville, vice president of domestic promotion, USA Rice Federation. "With National Rice Month and the first-ever National Whole Grains Month this September, it's a good time to point out how easy and beneficial it is to include enriched and whole grains like white and brown rice in a healthy diet."

U.S. grown rice is widely available, easy to prepare, and costs just a few cents per serving. Rice companies have stepped up the convenience factor with quicker cooking and ready-to-eat versions of this kitchen staple. It also combines well with other healthy foods. Some reasons to like rice:

-- The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid recommend eating three or more servings of whole grain foods per day with the remaining grain servings coming from either enriched or whole grain foods, like whole grain brown rice and enriched white rice

-- One cup of cooked brown rice equals two of the three recommended daily whole grain servings.

-- U.S. grown white rice is a wholesome choice to meet your grain intake requirements; it is enriched with the important nutrients niacin, thiamin and iron and fortified with folic acid

-- With an average of 100 calories, each half-cup serving of cooked rice equals one grain serving

-- Rice is a complex carbohydrate that is naturally sodium-, gluten- and cholesterol-free and contains no saturated or trans fats

-- Rice is highly digestible and non-allergenic and can be enjoyed by young and old alike, including individuals who are sensitive or intolerant to gluten

-- A recent Iowa State University study found that people who eat rice have healthier diets overall because they eat more fruits and vegetables, consume less added sugar and fat, and are likely to have a lower body mass index than non-rice eaters

-- Rice can be a time-saver -- rice cookers offer no-tend preparation and complete meals can be prepared using them

About the USA Rice Federation: They are the national advocate for all segments of the rice industry, conducting programs to build awareness and usage of U.S.-grown rice. Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Missouri produce high-quality varieties of short, medium and long grain rice, as well as specialty rices including jasmine, basmati, arborio, red aromatic and black japonica, among others.


Yield: Makes 6 servings.

-- 1 cup uncooked organic brown rice

-- 2 tablespoons organic soy sauce

-- 2 cups fresh broccoli florets, blanched

-- 2 cups organic tofu, lightly sauteed in ghee or organic olive oil

-- 1 1/2 cups shredded organic mozzarella cheese, divided

-- 1/2 cup sliced organic almonds, toasted

-- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

-- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

-- Pinch ground nutmeg

Cook rice according to package directions, substituting soy sauce for 2 tablespoons water.

Combine cooked rice, broccoli, chicken, 1/2 cup cheese, almonds, black pepper, garlic powder and nutmeg in large bowl. Place in greased 3-quart baking dish or in individual greased baking dishes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake at 350 degrees 20 to 25 minutes.

For more information: www.wholegrainscouncil.org.