I believe that America, as a country, has a really shitty diet. I won’t enumerate the statistics about obesity and its human and economic costs in our country, firstly because you can read it in a million other places and secondly because I’m too lazy. Obesity is epidemic here, and I think that it is critical that we educate people – especially young people – about healthy eating and make natural, nutritious, and affordable food available to all Americans.
But I also think that telling people they need to begin eating only kale, seitan, and buckwheat groats starting tomorrow is counterproductive. Just as I believe the foodie community scares off newbies, I believe that the Nutrition Brigade scares the hell out of your average eater. Combine this with the fact that agribusiness is continually telling consumers about a new critical nutrient they can only get from 3 bowls of Sugar Blobs as part of healthy breakfast, and you wind up with a lot of confused people. Not to mention some fat ones.
But there are small changes to your diet that are easy to make and come with a pretty strong scientific consensus behind them, like eating less processed food and more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
And one easy way to replace an empty carbohydrate with a healthful whole grain is to toss that 25 pound bag of white rice and start cooking brown rice instead.
The recipe: Same as white rice, but with a bit more water. Combine brown rice (about a half cup per person) with a little more than twice that amount of water. Boil, then reduce heat to as low as you can get it. Cover and cook until all the water has evaporated (check by boring a little hole to the bottom of the pot with a butter knife), usually about 30 minutes. An added bonus here is that brown rice is WAY harder to burn onto the bottom of the pot than white.
That’s all there is to it. Some people will tell you to rinse the rice first, but I almost never do. You can add butter to the cooking liquid if it strikes your fancy, but it’s not necessary. My only other direction is to make a little extra for fried rice the next day. (That recipe is to follow.)
Additionally, if the conventional method is too slow for you, check out Mark Bittman’s shortcut.
Not everyone likes brown rice the first time they try it. I didn’t. But try it with a dish you know you like (some take-out chinese perhaps or a little homemade curry) and try it a couple times before you give up on it. Add some butter. Cook it in coconut milk. Eat it fried or in soup. Give it a fair chance, and I bet you’ll come around.
And if not, no big deal. Not everyone likes everything, and there’s enough good food options out there that you can have a pretty long list of dislikes before you’re in trouble.
And I promise not to tell the Nutrition Brigade.