Technique, Cooking Whole Grains
Pasta is always a favorite family food, because it’s quick, easy and tasty. But is it healthy? It can be. The trick is to watch your portion sizes and to make the switch to the whole-grain varieties.
Whole-grain pasta tends to have a chewier texture than white pasta, which some people prefer. But if you’re having trouble making the switch, start by trying half white pasta and half wheat. Or, you can start out with one of the whole-grain/white flour blends that are now available at the supermarket. They’re less chewy than 100 percent whole-grain varieties, but they still offer more nutrition than traditional white pasta.
Both whole-grain and white pasta are cooked by boiling in a big pot of water. Whole grain pastas don’t necessarily take any longer to cook. Follow the package directions and be careful not to overcook, because over-cooking can make your pasta turn out kind of gummy. Allow 2 ounces of any shape pasta per person, which cooks up to be one cup.
Just like whole-grain pasta, brown rice is much more nutritious than its white form. But it does take longer to cook than white rice.
Long-grain brown rice cooks up fluffier than the short-grain varieties. Many times, you’ll find this rice in stores just called “long grain.” Some special varieties of long-grain rice are called Basmati, Texmati, Carolina and Jasmine. Short-grain varieties include sushi and Calrose.
If you’ve bought a particular brand of rice, you should follow the instructions on the back of the bag or box. If you’ve bought brown rice from a bulk bin, just remember “two to one”: two cups boiling water to one cup of rice. That amount will make three cups of cooked rice, which is six one-half cup servings. (The ratio of water to rice for short-grain brown rice is 2.25 cups water to one cup rice.)
Pour the rice into the boiling water, stir it once, reduce heat to low, cover the pan and let it cook for 50 minutes. Use a pan with a tight-fitting lid. If you think your lid isn’t tight enough, cover the pan with foil and then put the lid on top. After 50 minutes, take the pan off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes before you take the lid off.
Store the leftover cup in the refrigerator for up to three days. It’s easy to heat up in the microwave. It’s good cold for lunch, too. Try it tossed with some chopped parsley, lemon juice and olive oil.
Store uncooked rice in a sealed container in a dry, dark, and cool place. Due to the bran, the shelf life of brown rice is less than white rice—a few months rather than years. Brown rice can and will get rancid. Store it in the refrigerator and it will last longer.
Article copyright © 2011 American Heart Association. This article is brought to you by the American Heart Association’s Simple Cooking with Heart Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.