Monday, September 17, 2012

Forbidden No More

A few weeks ago I discovered Forbidden Rice (sold by Lotus Foods). My local Whole Foods sells it in the bulk section. Forbidden rice is amazing! I am seriously in love with it. It's this beautiful rich deep purple, almost black colour. So gorgeous. It has a similar nutritional profile to brown rice, but with lots of additional antioxidants* due to its rich colouring. The flavour is slightly nutty, and the texture is chewy. Legend says that the only ones allowed to eat it in imperial China were the Emperor and his family... but lucky for us, we get to play king (or queen!) for a day now! 

I was looking for a good recipe to try this week with my forbidden rice and came across this one by Giada Di Laurentiis on the Food Network. It looked interesting so I thought I'd give it a try, with a few modifications. So here's my version of Giada's recipe for:

Forbidden Rice with Peaches and Peas
Yield: about 6 meal-sized servings (more if using as a side)

3 1/2 cups (875 ml) water
2 cups (500 ml) forbidden rice
1/2 tsp (2 ml) sea salt
2 1/2 cups (625 ml) snap peas
2 large peaches

1/4 cup (60 ml) toasted sesame seeds

1 Tbsp + 2 tsp (25 ml) seasoned rice vinegar
1/8 cup (30 ml) flaxseed oil
1.5 Tbsp (22 ml) agave nectar
1 Tbsp (15 ml) soy sauce

1) Rinse rice and place in a saucepan. Add 3.5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Let sit for five minutes, then fluff with a fork and transfer to a large salad bowl.

2) Cut the snap peas into 1" sized pieces.

3) Pit the peaches then slice them.

4) Spray a large non-stick frying pan with oil, then heat to medium-high. 

5) When drops of water "dance" on the pan, add the snap peas. Cook, stirring frequently, for two minutes. They should be shiny and starting to get soft.

6) Add the peach slices and cook for another two minutes.

7) Add the hot peas and peaches to the same bowl as the rice.

8) Whisk together the rice vinegar, flaxseed oil, agave nectar, and soy sauce until cloudy-looking.

9) Pour the dressing over the rice mixture and toss well.

You can eat this "salad" either warm as we did this evening, or at room temperature which is what we'll likely do tomorrow. The flavour was good, but it seemed to be missing something. The hubby had a brilliant idea - putting toasted sesame seeds on top! So that's what we did for the leftovers we'll have for lunch tomorrow. The sesame seeds added a good additional flavour, and they also contrast nicely against the black, green, and peachy colours of the other ingredients.

I'm already dreaming of other recipes I might try with forbidden rice... I've heard it makes an amazing rice pudding. I'll let you know if I try it!

* A note on antioxidants... when I asked my Grade 11/12 students today what an "antioxidant" was, almost nobody in the class could give me an answer. Finally, a tentative student put up his hand and said, "um, they prevent cancer?" He was basically right. I find that there are many "healthy food" words thrown around and a lot of the time, most people have no idea what they actually mean. Antioxidants prevent free radicals, which are these nasty bad guys that go around our bodies wreaking havoc, from causing harm. Free radicals have been associated with a number of diseases, most notably cancer. Consequently, antioxidants are probably best known for helping prevent cancer. But beware of supplementation - taking antioxidants in supplement form is not the same as getting them from real, whole foods. Supplementing can actually do the reverse for you and cause you harm. Always go for the real stuff! Not only is it much tastier, but there are all kinds of other nutrients in antioxidant-rich foods as well! Antioxidants are usually found in foods with beautiful, deep colours like berries, or this forbidden rice. Colour is a great way to choose your food - if it looks pretty, it's probably good for you!

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