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Blog

This blog started as a way for me to share my recipes + culinary adventures, tips for vibrant health + happiness, thoughts on the latest developments in nutritional medicine + the low down on the Sydney wholefoods scene and beyond...

Filtering by Tag: white rice

Gluten-free grain porridge

Becca Crawford

Every now and again I make a creamy rice porridge for breakfast. My kids love it, especially in winter. It’s the perfect winter breakfast comfort food. The recipe below can be used for any type of gluten-free grains but white rice is our favourite. 

Why we should always soak grains before cooking them, and why I choose white rice over brown rice, is all set out in one of my previous blog posts here.

I inject nutrient-density into this porridge by adding in egg yolks, butter and cream, to provide a creamy, nutritious bowl. There is quite a bit of milk added as I like a very milky hydrating porridge as I find grains can be very drying. If this is too much milk for you, simply use 2 instead of 3 cups.  

Base ingredients:

1 cup gluten-free grain such as hulled buckwheat, rice, millet, amaranth or quinoa
3 cups full fat milk, coconut milk or nut milk of choice
¼ cup currants (optional)
2 tablespoons cream
1.5 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
3-5 egg yolks
1 tsp cinnamon powder
¼ tsp vanilla bean powder

Toppings - any one or more of: 

chopped banana
a handful of fresh berries
a scattering of goji berries
coconut flakes
gluten-free muesli
dusting of raw cacao powder
extra dustings of cinnamon powder or vanilla bean powder
cream or yogurt
a drizzle of honey

Directions:

Soak grains and currants overnight in 2 cups of water in a bowl.  Strain and rinse in filtered water. Transfer to a saucepan and cook in milk of choice covered on a low simmer stirring occasionally until the grains are cooked (completely soft) (approx. 10 mins). Add more liquid if it has all been absorbed. Do not allow to high simmer or boil. 

Turn off heat and stir through the butter or coconut oil, cream, egg yolks, cinnamon powder and vanilla bean powder.

Divide between 3 bowls and serve with any one or more of the suggested toppings.

Serves 3

Variation: instead of cooking the grains in milk cook them in 2 cups of chicken or beef bone broth/stock then once cooked add 1 cup of milk into the saucepan and gently heat. Then add in butter or coconut oil and egg yolks and stir through until well mixed.

Veggie-Packed Fried Rice (and why I prefer white rice over brown rice and why I like to eat my rice cold)

Becca Crawford

My kids LOVE fried rice. Although I try to limit grains as much as possible in favour of more nutrient-dense foods to fill their little bellies, we still do have grains occasionally IF they are properly prepared through soaking, sprouting or fermenting. This proper preparation process adhered to by all traditional societies the world over is important to remove anti-nutrients (such as phytates) found in all grains (as well as nuts, seeds and legumes) that can cause digestive havoc (such as trapping the nutrients found in grains, irritating the lining of the gut making it leaky, and destroying enzymes needed to digest out food). Proper preparation reduces phytates thus liberating the nutrients therein and making the grains more digestible and nutritious (as well as more delicious). 

Rice tends to be favoured as a grain of choice in the ancestral health community because it is doesn’t contain any gluten (the same can be said for buckwheat, amaranth, millet and quinoa). Gluten is another anti-nutrient but, unlike phytates, it is not removed through proper soaking preparation and thus stays in the grain. Gluten can be a difficult protein to digest and for some it can lead to non-celiac gluten sensitivity or in more extreme cases celiac disease which is a full blow auto-immune condition triggered by gluten. Strict proponents of the Paleo diet would say we should avoid gluten grains (wheat, rye, oats and barley) altogether because the risk of gluten causing a leaky gut is too great (and a leaky gut = digestive distress and is one step away from auto-immunity) . For those who do react after they consume gluten then this is sound advice. Life is too short to feel crappy after a meal. For those who do not notice any symptoms after eating gluten, whether or not you should eat it is a matter of great debate and often comes down to your lifestyle choices. You may (or may not) be influenced by whether or not you have the celiac gene which can be determined via a blood test  (and if you do, you might consider it too risky to tempt fate with gluten-containing grains). As a side note if you DO wish to avoid gluten in entirety, it might surprise you to know that grains are not the only place where gluten can be found- there are numerous hidden sources of gluten in non-food everyday household objects as set out in this article here. For those with leaky gut and autoimmunity then all grains (whether they contain gluten or not) are best avoided until the gut wall is fully healed. 

Ok, so back to our friend, rice. White rice contains much less phytates than brown rice because the outer husk has been removed. The outer husk is where most of the phytates are located, so brown rice contains much more phytates that white rice. For almost 10 years as a macrobiotic vegetarian, I was eating brown rice thinking it was healthier than white rice (anything brown must be healthier, right?!?) but as it turns out the opposite was true. Go figure. Even though white rice contains less phytates than brown rice I still do properly prepare it through soaking it overnight then straining and rinsing it to remove as much of the phytates as possible. You can think of white rice as glucose – a source of carbohydrates that (unlike fructose) is well absorbed by the body and taken up as fuel by our cells. Our bodies can handle glucose in moderate amounts. Obviously consumption of too much glucose (in any form) for your energy expenditure will lead to weight gain but in the context of a balanced diet (i.e. along with the consumption of protein and fats from natural sources and above ground veggies rich in phytonutrients) and an active lifestyle,  the occasional or even frequent consumption of white rice shouldn’t be anything to be worried about for those who do not suffer digestive issues. 

Hopefully the above background will explain why I soak rice in this recipe and why I choose white rice over brown rice. People often ask me which TYPE of white rice to buy – short grain, basmati etc. I don’t think the type of white rice really matters. I typically buy short grain white rice as it is the most versatile.  And the reason why I cook rice in bone broth (aka stock) instead of water is because it is a more nutrient-dense way of eating rice – all of the minerals and other goodness in the bone broth get absorbed into the rice, giving you more bang for your buck. Not to mention that it is a hell of a lot more tastier! Why I prefer to eat this meal as leftovers cold the next day is set out at the end.  


Ingredients:

1 cup white rice
2 cups (500ml) chicken bone broth (stock)
1 onion, diced
1 packet of bacon, diced
3 tablespoons natural fat of choice (eg butter, coconut oil, beef, tallow, ghee)
1 punnet (150g) mushrooms, sliced
1 cups frozen peas
1 cup of broccoli florets, finely chopped  
1 cup of cauliflower florets, finely chopped  
1 carrot, grated
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
5 cardamon pods, ground up in a spice/nut/coffee grinder
1 cinnamon quill
1 teaspoon unrefined salt

Directions:

Soak the rice from the day before in a bowl with plenty of filtered water. The following day strain the rice and place in a saucepan with 2 cups of chicken stock (or if no stock, use filtered water).

Cover and bring to boil, then gently simmer until all liquid has been absorbed. The rice should be cooked through and tender.  

In a large frying pan or wok, melt natural fat of choice (I like to use 50/50 butter and coconut oil for this recipe) and sauté the onions and bacon on low heat for a couple minutes.

Add turmeric powder, ground cardamom pods and 1 whole cinnamon quill. Sautee for 5 - 10 minutes or until onions become translucent and golden brown. 

Add mushrooms, peas, broccoli, cauliflower and carrot, and sauté until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt.

Add cooked rice to the frying pan and combine well. Garnish with coriander leaves. 

For a more Asian infusion, omit the turmeric and season at the end with a drizzle of Red Boat fish sauce, tamari and lime juice, and a scattering of chilli flakes and a handful of activated cashews. 

Serves 6.

I purposely made the quantity of this recipe substantial so that there will be plenty of leftovers. Leftovers are terrific eaten the following day cold. Rice that has been cooked and cooled for 24 hours is a form of resistant starch. Resistant starch is one type of prebiotic i.e. food for the good bacteria already in our gut that keeps these little critters alive, healthy and kicking. Unlike cooked and heated rice, cooked and cooled white rice is not digested in the stomach or small intestine, reaching the colon (the large intestine) intact.  Thereby “resisting” digestion.  This explains why resistant starch does not result in spikes in either blood glucose or insulin, and why we do not obtain significant calories from resistant starch.  Once resistant starch reaches the large intestine, bacteria attach to and digest, or ferment, the starch.  This is when we receive the benefits of resistant starch. You can read more about resistant starch in one of my previous blog posts here.

What is resistant starch and why you should consume it

Becca Crawford

Resistant starch is all the rage right now in the ancestral health community. I have been receiving numerous enquiries over the past few months about resistant starch and how to consume it. Firstly I want to point out that I don’t follow trends. I try to understand the science behind something before I alter any of my lifestyle choices. So let’s start with the science and a potted summary of gut health because this is where it all begins….

  • Our health depends on the health of our gut (by “gut” I’m referring to the Gastro-Intestinal tract that runs from the mouth to the anus).
  • The health of our gut in turn depends on the balance, number, location and strains of bacteria that live there (this bacterial film is often referred to as our microbiota, microbiome, or gut flora).
  • The bacteria that live in our gut span the spectrum of good or friendly bacteria (called probiotics or ‘old friends’) on the one hand and bad bacteria (pathogens) at the other end of the spectrum with a heap in between.
  • The good guys should outnumber the bad guys by 85% to 15%. The location of that bacteria is really important: they should mostly be in the colon, the large intestine.
  • When the balance or location or the different strains of bacteria is out of whack, our health is compromised, either in some minor way (eg reduced immunity leading to colds and infections. NB 75% to 80% of the immune cells in the body are in the gut, so changes to your gut microbiome are absolutely going to affect your immunity and your ability to fight off infections) or acutely (eg SIBO, leaky gut, brain and/or skin disorders, autoimmunity).
  • There are a number of factors that affect our intestinal bacteria, diet being one of them (others include antibiotics, the sterility of our environment, C-section versus vaginal birth, the contraceptive pill, acid-stopping drugs, smoking, the use of colonics, environmental toxins, pesticides, heavy metals).
  • Anthropological evidence shows that many strains of good bacteria that appeared in our hunter-gatherer ancestors have permanently disappeared from the modern gut today. We pass on our microbiome down to our children through birth from generation to generation so the state of our health and our lifestyle choices today will affect the health of future generations. As Chris Kresser recently put it “if we change or eliminate certain species of gut flora that have been living in our guts for millions of years or hundreds of thousands of generations and we wipe them out, we’ve permanently changed essentially what it means to be human because we have 10 times more bacterial cells than we do human cells, so it’s a big deal.”
  • I wont go into all the details on what the good bacteria do for our health but without them we can’t survive and we need them for strong immunity, healthy digestion, good brain function, healthy skin, calm nervous system, and a well-functioning metabolism.

A diet rich in lacto-fermented foods provides natural probiotics (good bacteria) that populate our gut. But once the good bacteria are there these essential little critters need to be kept alive and kicking. Enter prebiotics. Prebiotics are the food for the probiotics already in our gut to keep them alive and healthy. So we need a diet rich in both probiotics (to populate our gut with new strains of good bacteria) and prebiotics (as their fuel source). Fortunately a nutrient-dense traditional wholefoods diet can provide, for most people, a good source of both without resorting to over the counter supplements. I always try to obtain my nutrients from wholefood sources wherever possible. Prebiotics are generally classified into three different types: non-starch polysaccharides, soluble fiber, and resistant starch (RS).  Each of these types of prebiotics feeds different species of gut bacteria, but of these, RS is most recently donning the spotlight for its ability to lower blood glucose levels, improve insulin sensitivity (which contributes to fat loss), act as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and maintain the integrity of our gut by decreasing intestinal permeability. RS is a type of starch that is not digested in the stomach or small intestine, reaching the colon (the large intestine) intact.  Thereby “resisting” digestion.  This explains why RS does not result in spikes in either blood glucose or insulin, and why we do not obtain significant calories from RS.  Once RS reaches the large intestine, bacteria attach to and digest, or ferment, the starch.  This is when we receive the benefits of RS.

Examples of RS include:  

(a)  starch found in grains, seeds, and legumes;
(b) starch found in raw potatoes, green (unripe) bananas, and raw plantains.  Cooking these foods causes changes in the starch making it digestible to us, and thus removing the RS;
(c) retrograde RS since this type of RS forms after RS found in foods listed in (a) or (b) above are cooked and then cooled for 24 hours.  Examples include cooked and cooled parboiled rice, cooked and cooled potatoes, and cooked and cooled properly prepared (soaked or sprouted) legumes.

Since many of my clients and people who follow a nutrient-dense traditional wholefoods diet do not eat much if any grains, seeds and legumes, and since raw potatoes and green unripe bananas are not so tasty and since plantains are rare as hens teeth in Australia well that just leavescooked and cooled potatoes as our most practical wholefood source of RS. To that end I have put together the following 2 simple recipes incorporating cooked and cooled potatoes that I am now incorporating into my and my kids’ diet:

In the coming weeks I will also post recipes for avocado and raw salmon nori rolls and Greek rice pudding (both incorporating cooked and cooled white rice- properly soaked then rinsed before being cooked then cooled).

Kids typically love all of the above dishes so adding them into your culinary repertoire shouldn’t be a hardship. They are a convenient lunch box idea (obviously make them the day before) as well as fun summer time food perfect for picnics and easy dinners when you don’t feel like eating hot food. At it’s most simplest level you could get into the habit of adding some chopped potatoes to your evening steamed veggies then pop all or some of them in the fridge to be consumed the following day in kids’ school lunch boxes and into your salad for lunch. Just a thought.

How often do I eat cooked and cooled potatoes? At least once  if not twice a week. A little less often in the case of cooked and cooled white rice.  So I guess this has been a change for me, in a practical sense, since reading about RS. I’m not sure how important the 24 hours of cooling is prior to consuming the cooked and cooled potatoes. In my household sometimes these dishes get consumed in less than 24 hours of being cooked but if you can be a little organised and prepare ahead of time then all the more power (and prebiotics) to you!

To read a more comprehensive article on prebiotics and RS written by Chris Kresser click here  (I have essentially condensed and summarised the punch lines for you in this blog post). In his article Chris points out that if you are on a low carbohydrate diet or don’t tolerate potatoes well you can add RS to your diet via unmodified Potato Starch (NOT potato flour), plantain flour and/or green banana flour (by adding to cold or room temperature water, almond milk, or mixed into smoothies). His article comes with the usual caveat that if you suffer gastro-intestinal tract distress with even small amounts of RS, this may be an indication of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or microbial dysbiosis, and you may need to consider working with a healthcare practitioner to establish a more balanced gut microbiome through the use of herbal antimicrobials and probiotics before adding RS or other prebiotics. To that end for those of you living in Sydney I highly recommend working with a holistic practitioner on the same nutritional page such as integrative GP Dr Min Yeo or natropath/herbalist Anthia Koullouros (both at  Ovvio Paddington 5 Ways). If you live in Melbourne I have a list of like-minded practitioners that I can email you