Diabetes Diet Getting Dull? Maybe It’s Time To Go Wild

Wild rice is one of those foods that, by serving it occasionally (or often), makes healthy eating an adventure in texture and taste.

Besides corn, wild rice is the only other commonly eaten grain native to North America. However, wild rice is not actually rice.

Officially called zinzania aquatica, wild rice is a semiaquatic grass that naturally grows in the bays, lakes, and tidal rivers of Minnesota and Manitoba. Today, uncultivated Minnesota wild rice is harvested, by law, using traditional Native American methods, while most commercially grown wild rice is farmed in California.

Because wild rice is a low-yield plant that is difficult to grow it typically costs more than other grains, but it mixes well with brown or white rice—and doing that brings the cost of serving it down.

Wild Rice Benefits

Whether served alone or in tandem with other grains, wild rice adds plenty of nutritional value to our meals. Its nutrients benefit people with diabetes by supporting the digestive, immune, and cardiovascular systems:

  • The protein content of wild rice is a bit higher than in most other whole grains.
  • Wild rice is a good source of fiber - something many of us do not get enough of. Fiber aids glucose control and weight loss because it slows digestion, and helps us feel full longer after meals.
  • Helpful amounts of folate, niacin, and vitamin B6 are in wild rice.
  • Wild rice gives us the minerals magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.

Though research into the health benefits of wild rice is scarce, available studies show that wild rice has a high antioxidant content—its antioxidant activity being 30 times greater than that of white rice. Wild rice may also help lower cholesterol and other fats in our bloodstream.

A one cup serving of cooked wild rice has about 166 calories, 35 grams of carbohydrate (32 g non-fiber carbs, 1.2 g sugar, 3.0 g fiber), and contains 6.54 grams of protein.

Wild Rice Tips

Anyone who can turn on a stove burner, boil water, and use a measuring cup can prepare wild rice:

  1. In a saucepan, combine one cup uncooked wild rice with about three cups water, or broth.
  2. Heat until boiling, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer the rice for 35 to 50 minutes. Add a favorite herb, if desired.
  3. Fluff with a fork, and serve.

It’s easy to know when wild rice is done since it bursts open when cooked. However, before turning off the heat, taste a few grains. If the rice not tender enough for your family’s taste, simmer it a few minutes more.

Cooked, drained, and put into a tightly sealed container, wild rice will keep up to a week in the fridge, and for about six months in the freezer. Wild rice can add interest and nutritional value to vegetable dishes, salads, casseroles, soups, stir fries, scrambled eggs, or omelettes.

And remember, “Rice is great if you're really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something.” ~ Mitch Hedberg

Source: Whole Grains Council; Fatsecret/Wild Rice
Photo credit: Superior National Forest

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