Side dishes can make or break a diet.
So when it comes to making smart choices, a veteran restaurant critic I know offers this rule of thumb: Never eat a starch unless it is “out of the ordinary.”
That effectively eliminates most mashed potatoes, french fries, pastas and white rice — largely empty carbohydrates with low nutritional value and just average flavor. What’s left?
Brown rice, whose chewy texture can break up mealtime monotony and boost nutrition.
The government recently advised Americans to eat three servings daily of whole grains, which have been linked to a lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The bran covering on brown rice gives it more protein, fiber and iron than white rice. Brown rice is also higher in trace elements such as selenium, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
“I think people are really hearing the message,” says Katie Brown, president of the Kansas City Dietetic Association. “Eat whole grains instead of bread. It’s a great, easy way to get fiber.”
Brown rice also has more flavor than white rice. “It has that nutty flavor that means you’re satisfied more on less,” Brown says. “And if you fill up more on sides, you’ll eat less of the main entrée, which is usually meat.”
The Star’s Brown Rice Pilaf takes on a Mediterranean flair after you stir eggplant and cherry tomatoes into the mix. Although eggplant typically soaks up a lot of oil, the recipe achieves a rich taste with only a modest amount of oil.