Sometimes I think as food bloggers we feel compelled to come up with exciting and eye catching foods to wow our readers. But lately I've been getting some emails and questions that have grounded me again, and reminded me that some people are still struggling with the very basics of cooking healthy, gluten free meals that are quick and budget friendly.
Hence the inspiration for the new recipe section I'll be putting together in the next couple of days: Gluten Free, Done Dirt Cheap. Yup, insert AC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap tune here.
Brown Rice, Tapioca Starch
Done Dirt Cheap
Gluten free and it's done dirt cheap
Gluten free and it's done dirt cheap
I gotta lotta gluten free
Done dirt cheap!
Yes, I'm an uber nerd and these are the things that go through my head when I'm in my kitchen doing things like rolling out gluten free pie dough.
Anyway, in honour of doing gluten free on a budget, I'm sharing how I cook big honkin' batches of brown rice and freeze them for super quick dinners! Brown rice is naturally gluten free and cheap! BUT brown rice seems to be daunting for some. It can be a teeny bit more time consuming to cook than white so some people avoid it, but making and freezing big batches can make healthy dinners quick and easy.
You may now commence head banging in your kitchen.
Every couple of weeks I make a big batch of brown rice and freeze it. Then, if I'm in a rush or don't feel like cooking a complicated dinner, I can pull a container out of the freezer, defrost it, and serve it with some steamed veggies and bang! There's dinner.
Here's how I do it.
Ingredients (for 12 servings):
3 cups dried brown rice
5 1/2 cups filtered water
2 Tbsp butter (optional)
1. In a large bowl, rinse rice under cool water. Swish and drain. Repeat until water begins to run clear. Although not necessary, you may choose at this point to soak your rice before cooking, for added health benefits. (See note below directions)
2. In a large pot, add rice, water and butter, if using. Bring water to a boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, until water is absorbed and rice is soft. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and cool.
3. Scoop into freezer safe containers. I use large, old yogurt containers and label them with the date and contents to make it easy to find in my freezer. Each container holds about 3 -3.5 cups of rice, or 4 servings. So I use 3 containers. For 2 people, we end up with about 6-8 meals.
*To defrost: If planning ahead, remove from freezer the night before and let defrost in the fridge. Heat in a pot over medium heat or microwave, adding a few drops of water to rehydrate rice for better texture.
* To defrost in a pot: Run container briefly under warm water and pop rice chunk out into a medium-sized pot. Reheat over medium-low heat, turning rice chunk regularly and breaking off bits. Add a few drops of water to hydrate.
* For a quick defrost in microwave: Run container briefly under warm water and pop rice chunk into a large, microwaveable bowl. Run on defrost setting, stopping every couple of minutes to turn rice chunk and break off bits. Add a few drops of water to hydrate and improve texture.
You may choose to soak your rice prior to cooking, for added health benefits. It has been found that soaking rice for 8-24 hours prior to cooking can:
* Increase the fibre content up to 4 times
* Increase B vitamins and magnesium by 3 times
* Increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (a.k.a. GABA, an amino acid) by 10 times
* Decrease the phytic acid in brown rice. Phytic acid hinders the absorption of nutrients, so by decreasing the phytic acid by soaking helps make the nutrients more readily absorbed.
So soaking is certainly a good idea, if you can plan ahead. If not, no worries, brown rice is still good for you.
Using brown rice for quick, cheap gluten free meals
1. Use brown rice alongside steamed vegetables, like broccoli and carrots, with a bit of gluten free GF Tamari or Coconut Aminos (a gluten and soy free soy sauce alternative) drizzled over the rice and some lemon juice and salt and pepper on the veggies.
2. Serve stir-fried veggies over a bed of brown rice (like this Easy, Versatile Gluten Free Soy Free Stir Fry Recipe)
3. Or try this GF, soy free Thai Eggplant Stir Fry
4. Chop up some cucumber and make these Brown Rice Cucumber Sushi Rolls
5. Turn some of it into Brown Rice and Lentil Crackers
6. Toss cooked rice instead of quinoa into either Cannelini Beans and Swiss Chard Stem Stew or Apple Cinnamon Cabbage Stew
How to do you like your brown rice?
 Monica Eng "Rice joins growing field of sprouted food choices, But is it worth all the work, money?" Chicago Tribune, July 24, 2013