Battle of the Brown Rice

I usually default to brown rice. It tastes just as good as white rice, it’s better for me, plus it’s one easy, healthy choice I can make.   But if you’ve read any posts of late, you’re keenly aware that I’m in a lazy cooking slump. As in, most of my meals I made this weekend consisted of salads, hummus, chicken pot stickers, canned soup, spaghetti, peanut butter or frozen meals. Sad, I know, but it’s more economical than eating out all the time. I did try a new place this weekend that hit the spot, though: Bayou Bakery.

I rallied last night and went for an easy, 20 minute, one-pan Chickpea Curry Tomato Stew. (How is it possible I haven’t posted about this recipe before?! I make it at least once a month. Double the spices, by the way). It’s my version of quick, healthy Indian. In deciding what to serve the stew over, my options included:

  • Trader Joe’s Quinoa– Ready in 20 minutes 
  • Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice packets– Ready in 3 minutes
  • Trader Joe’s precooked brown rice pouch – Ready in 90 seconds
  • Whole grain brown rice – Ready in 60 minutes if you’re lucky
  • Uncle Ben’s brown rice pouch – Ready in 90 seconds

My brown rice recommendations, in order of preference – based on ease and quality:

1. TJ’s frozen brown rice packets. The little bit of steaming in the microwave fluffs up the grains, and 3 minutes is still fast as can be.

2. TJ’s quinoa. I like the feeling of the quinoa grains bursting a bit in my mouth. I know this isn’t a rice, but its nutritional profile supersedes all other grains and it was in the running for dinner. The time requirement is the limiting factor for why it’s not #1 on my list. Tip: Don’t over-water quinoa, as it easily turns soggy.

3. TJ’s precooked rice pouch. The rice grains are a little more chewy, less fluffy, and a bit tougher than the frozen rice. Don’t let this rice cool or it’ll dehydrate quickly. But still, the ingredient list is simple and I can handle a 90 second wait.

4. Uncle Ben’s precooked rice pouch. The ingredient list on this one is oddly long. Check all of Uncle Ben’s packets; many contain palm oil, hydrogenated oil, sugar, corn syrup, and unknown ‘natural flavors.’ It also feels a bit greasy on the tongue.

5. It’s pretty obvious, right? Whole grain brown rice and I aren’t friends. It takes FOR-EV-ERRR (said in a Sandlot voice), and is perpetually either undercooked or burned. I know it’s economical, but it’s just not worth the waste of soggy or crunchy rice.

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