Understanding What Rice Is

by iupilon

Is Rice a Vegetable? Is brown rice a vegetable? Is rice a fruit?

There is often some confusion when non-rice eaters begin consuming rice, for whatever reasons there are. Since rice comes from a plant, then it has to be a vegetable or a fruit, right? The answer is no; it is neither of these things. Rice technically comes a type of grass that produces grains on the stalk. Therefore, rice is a type of grain, and in the US food pyramid, it occupies the same space as cereals and other grains regularly consumed in the United States and elsewhere.

Is White Rice OK On a Plant-based Diet?

Generally speaking, white rice should only be moderately consumed if you plan to focus on a plant-based diet. The reason for this cautioning is that white rice has already been highly processed, and it has a glycemic load. Foods with high glycemic loads can cause a huge spike in blood glucose levels (leading to satiation). However, blood glucose levels can also ‘crash’ afterward, leading to a feeling of hunger. A person can end up overeating white rice if there isn’t sufficient variety in the diet.

The same warning applies to folks who think that they can get away with consuming just fruit juices instead of eating whole foods with more variety. Fruit juices are not equivalent to the source fruits indicated by the labels. Commercial fruit juices have often added calories from high fructose corn syrup or white sugar, which also increases the initial glycemic load of this beverage type.

An ideal plant-based diet should be comprised mostly of vegetables (less of the starchy vegetables like potatoes and commercial products like French fries), fruits of different types, lots of water, whole grains (white rice is not whole grain), and whole-grain products like whole-grain pasta. Refined flours and white rice should only be eating sparingly if you are trying to control your blood sugar levels and your weight. As for proteins, you can opt for poultry sources and fish (including seafood). You should also reduce your consumption of all kinds of red meat and cold cut products. Bacon and other processed-meat products should also be minimized or eliminated from your diet.

Take note that a plant-based diet does not mean that you are going vegetarian or vegan. It only emphasizes vegetables and whole grain and not the complete removal of animal-based proteins. Healthy plant foods are great for the body, but the body still needs complete proteins readily available in fish and seafood. Dairy is still part of your diet, as doctors continue to encourage people to consume skimmed milk, low-fat milk, and whole milk products.

As we have said before, not all plant-based diets are ideal. For example, a person who only eats cheese and potatoes can say that he is on a plant-based diet, but the quality of his meals is poor, and he will likely increase in weight and get the conditions that we are trying to beat with the right diet. High-fat foods like French fries are never considered part of the “plant-based” component of plant-based diets because they contain too much trans fats and saturated fats. Overemphasizing white flour and white rice also beats the purpose of a plant-based diet as they introduce too many carbohydrates to the body.

Different Types of Rice

International cuisines wouldn’t be the same without rice, regardless of the type. There are several kinds of rice known to the global community, and we are going to take a peek at the most familiar ones.

Bomba Rice

This rice variant is also called Valencia. This was the original grain type that was used extensively for making and developing the paella tradition. What makes this type of rice interesting is that it has an almost completely round shape. The grains emphasize their broadness instead of length, and when you cook it, the grains remain width-emphasized and round, not to mention plump, too.

Another fascinating characteristic of Bomba Rice is that it can absorb a hefty 300% of its water content without bursting at the seams. To compare, Asian, white rice can only successfully hold on to twice its capacity in water before it bursts and dissolves in the excess moisture. This means it is difficult to overcook Bomba Rice, and you are going to get a nice texture and consistency each time. The exterior of Bomba Rice grains will be relatively firm, but the insides are going to remain tender and delicious.

Camargue Rice

Also called the French Red Rice, Camargue is a variant of red rice with its hull still intact. Because the hull is still there, it has a naturally nutty flavor that lends well to many dishes. If you can’t find brown rice, get some Camargue because the experience is going to be the same, and the flavors too. What people love about Camargue is that it can successfully soak up different soups and sauces without bursting, too. If you love adding broth to your paella, then Camargue is a good choice. It can be successfully used in a rice salad, pilafs, or specialty grain bowl soup. 

Black Rice

Black rice is another whole grain example, and yes, the hull is still there. White rice does not have any hull (which would explain why it’s white in the first place). Health-wise black rice has a lot of antioxidants, and it is comparable to berries in this respect. This grain type looks black as dry grain, and then it turns into a beautiful purple hue when you are done cooking it. Take note that it requires a longer cooking time than other kinds of rice, but the effort is well worth it. There are two variants of black rice – one is glutinous, while the other isn’t. The glutinous variety can be used for a variety of dessert recipes.

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