White, Brown, Basmati

Nutrition-wise

The nutritive value of rice depends on the soil where it is grown and the polishing process. However, generally speaking, rice is mainly made of carbohydrate- starch- which constitutes 90% of the dry weight and 87% of the caloric content.

Rice also contains minerals like manganese, selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron and copper and vitamins like thiamine (B1), niacin (B3). It also contains dietary fibre and small amounts of essential fatty acids.

Popular white

The highly polished white rice is the most common and popular variety of rice consumed, especially where it is a staple as in Southeast Asia (including India), the Middle East, and the Far East.

Rice grain is made ready for consumption by removing the husk. It is then polished by removing the bran and the germ. This improves the taste and ‘the look’ but leads to a loss of the vitamins and fatty acids present in the whole grain. What remains is the starchy endosperm.

Starch is of two types: amylose and amylopectin.

Rice such as Basmati, high in amylose, is long grained and does not stick together. Amylose is also resistant starch- healthy fibre. It slows the digestion of starch and prevents blood sugar spikes. It is beneficial to gut bacteria which aid digestion. It also facilitates the formation of fatty acids like butyrate which are said to improve colon health.

Amylopectin is usually found in strains of short grain rice, and its presence is characterised by stickiness on cooking. This starch is highly digestible and not advisable in diabetic diets.

In general, though white rice is of many types and strains, it is mostly starch and is best eaten in limited quantities.

Basmati, the queen of fragrance

This long, slender, fragrant grain is so special that patent wars have been and are being fought over its production. The word ‘Basmati’ itself means ‘fragrant’ in Hindi.

Nutrition-wise, it is no different from any other polished white rice. Yes, it contains amylose as its starchy constituent, and that’s the reason the pulaos and biryanis that are cooked with Basmati have beautiful, separate, long grains giving off the most delectable smells. Compared to the short grained rice varieties, Basmati has the better kind of starch.

Basmati is also more expensive than other rice strains. This fact makes it prone to adulteration. Buy a trusted brand which will give you the best value for money.

Going brown

When only the inedible outer husk of the rice grain is removed, you get brown rice. This is a whole grain with ALL its nutrients – minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, and starch- intact.

There are many benefits to eating brown rice:

It has a low glycemic index, yet is nutrition dense being filled with essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre. This makes it a better choice over white rice for diabetics.

Brown rice is rich in selenium. It is also good for maintaining a healthy cholesterol profile because it contains essential fatty acids. Brown rice, thus, benefits the heart.

Brown rice is full of fibre and is slow to digest. It makes you feel fuller for a longer time, and that’s why it’s an important part of a weight-loss diet. It is also a good digestive aid, preventing constipation and colitis with its higher fibre content.

You get brown Basmati rice too. Choose a good brand and go ahead with all the dishes that you make with the white version.

Brown rice stays fresh for approximately six months. If you are slow to use up your supply, refrigerate it.

Germinated brown rice: seeds of health

This is unpolished brown rice which has been allowed to germinate. Experts recommend soaking brown rice for 4 to 20 hours in warm water (30-40 °C). It can also be soaked for longer hours in cooler water. This activates the germ in brown rice and increases the levels of essential amino acids like gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Soaking brown rice reduces its chewiness and makes it softer and tastier to eat. Remember to discard the water from the soaked rice and cook in fresh water to avoid the smell that develops on soaking grains.

Germinated brown rice adds to the health benefits of eating brown rice.

GABA is good for preventing neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Investigations have pointed out that postpartum depression, mood swings, and psychosomatic health of lactating mothers are benefitted if germinated brown rice is included in their diets.

Brown rice is better that white. It’s just a matter of getting used to the chewiness.

What to eat, what to eat?

There is a whole lot of speculation, tons of advice and innumerable diet fads doing the rounds these days. All of it is supposed to boost health and well-being.

Don’t be misled by the ‘no carbs!’ chant. Carbohydrates are essential to a balanced diet. EXCESS carbohydrates are not.

Healthfulness has to be a way of life. Cannot eat this, do not eat that, must not… rules and principles have to be sustainable and integrated into one’s life. The middle path of ‘no fasting, no feasting’ is advisable because it is sustainable UNLESS there is a health reason, like diabetes for instance, that bans certain foods.

Also, not all of good health is in what you eat: regular exercise and rest are the other two companions. A positive attitude goes a long way too.

We eat because it is a pleasure. ‘No white rice,’ if not acceptable, is better replaced with ‘limited amounts a few times a week’.

The MUST-DO, however, is to adopt the organic way which shuns the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides in agriculture.

What health benefit will you really enjoy if everything is tainted with a dusting and residues of poisonous substances? This is like taking one step forward and two steps backward, with all the benefits being negated by the harm that chemicals cause from allergies to cancers.

What life are we to look forward to when we are busy ruining the very earth that sustains us by destroying the environment and upsetting ecological balances?

THINK! Go organic.

Eating Nuts

Pros of Eating Nuts

The positives that will encourage eating handful of nuts daily includes:

  • Rich in Minerals and Vitamins. Most of the nuts are loaded with essential minerals and vitamins for your good health. These include Vitamins A and B. The minerals found in nuts include copper, selenium, iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. As such, they are always healthy to eat. Though, the level of nutrients may vary in their different types.
  • Aids in Weight Loss. While most of the people will disagree on this point, it is a proven fact that nuts help to shed extra calories if eaten in moderation and with caution. This holds true for nuts like almonds, pistachios, and cashews. They contain a lot of fibers that help to curb your appetite significantly. As such, they control your weight as well.
  • Lower the level of Cholesterol. If you want to lower down LDL blood and total cholesterol in your body, start eating healthy nuts right away. This is primarily due to the content of unsaturated fats in them. They have lots of polyunsaturated as well as monounsaturated fats in them. Also, some raw nuts have higher levels of phytosterol that controls the risk of any cardiovascular ailment or problem.
  • Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Nuts like walnuts are known for their high content of omega 3 fats. They also have lots of ALA along with some other nutrients. Studies have shown that these nutrients collectively help to reduce oxidation or inflammation in your body. So, they are always good for your heart.
  • Reduces chances of Diabetes. Nuts affect the level of insulin and glucose neutrally. As such, they reduce the risk of diabetes. Also, for diabetic patients, they constitute a healthy eating option. Their various forms like peanut butter help to lower the risk of Type- 2 diabetes, especially in women. It is also proven by research that nuts like almonds substantially reduce the chances of postprandial glycemia.
  • Rich in Plant Proteins and Dietary Fibers. Nuts contain lots of plant proteins. It makes them a healthy alternative to meat as well. They maintain the blood vessels with their high content of amino acids. The dietary fibers in nuts are also good for your health.

Cons of Eating Nuts

There are enough reasons to include raw or dry roasted nuts in your daily routine. But there are some hazards associated with eating too many nuts. These include:

  • High-Calorie Count. Almost every nut contains lots of calories. It is not a pleasing fact for calorie and health conscious people. Though, almonds are a better choice with the lowest calorie count of 160 per ounce. To control calories, you should refrain from oil roasted nuts that are heated at high temperatures in harmful oils.
  • High in Fats. Despite their high content of unsaturated fats, nuts tend to put on this extra baggage with processing and flavors. Sometimes, nuts are treated with preservatives and unhealthy chemicals that increase the level of sodium and sugar in them.
  • High level of Oxalates. Mostly, nuts have a considerable amount of oxalates. When these oxalates accumulate in the body fluids and crystallize, they may lead to the formation of stones in kidney.
  • May lead to Acne. Most of the nuts contain some oils that are detrimental to your skin. Those with sensitive skin must eat nuts in moderation to avoid breakout of acne.

About Darjeeling Tea

Types of Darjeeling Tea: Apart from the ordinary differentiation, the perfect taste of this tea depends on the time of harvesting. According to growing season, it is divided into four types like-

  • The First Flush: The first flush tea is the most prized and popular in the market. This type of tea variant only includes the first two green leaves of the plant, which has the most alluring flavour. For this fresh and aromatic flavour, the first flush is known as the “Champagne of Teas”. These early leaves are the most delicate and tender; therefore create a brisk and floral taste.
  • The Second Flush: The time of picking the second flush tea is early April to May or June. In this flush, the leaves become larger and more mature than the first flush. These matured leaves yield a stronger and smoother flavour for a perfect cup of Darjeeling Tea. The second flush tea is known for its full-bodied, matured, fruity touch.
  • The Monsoon Flush: This flush continues its growth from June or July to October. The leaves produced in this flush are larger, which brew into intense colour and bold flavour. The monsoon flush is commonly used in making ice tea or as commercial tea bags.
  • The Autumn Flush: The tealeaves that matured in October to November, is known as Autumn Flush. It is the last and final stage of Darjeeling Tea. In this stage, the leaves become more mature than the previous flushes; it creates a strong copper-colored beverage. In this stage, tea leaves grow slowly and produce a nutty, rich taste.
  • Perfect weather for Darjeeling Tea: To maintain the perfect growth of the tea plant, accurate soil, temperature and moisture is inevitable. As tea is a rain-fed plant, it cannot survive without rain. However, excessive rain can damage the plant entirely. The ideal temperature to grow Darjeeling Tea is between 18 to 30 degrees. The tea plant, can be spoiled, in high temperature and can lost its delicate flavour. Darjeeling’s cool, moist climate and slopping terrains are equally important to produce the muscatel flavor of the tea. Sometimes, strong wind, frost, excessive rainfall creates difficulties in growing the plant.

Key Into Lime Pie

Many cooks and bakers in Florida claim their recipe is the only authentic version. Be that as it may, the filling is rarely disputed: rather, most debates revolve around the crust and topping. Everyone does agree, however, that green food coloring is for amateurs, and a proper version should be pale yellow. Key limes (also called Mexican or West Indian limes) are the most common lime found throughout the world; the U.S. is the exception in preferring the larger Persian lime.

The two contentious versions center around crust and topping. Early pies probably didn’t even have a crust, but now locals vacillate between traditional pie crust and graham cracker. And then there is the topping. The two camps argue meringue vs. whipped cream. (Apparently these folks have a lot of time on their hands.) Contrary to popular belief, what makes the filling creamy is not cream at all but sweetened condensed milk which is thicker than evaporated milk and comes in a can, first introduced by the Borden Dairy company in the late 1800s. It’s possible that if the sponge divers had anything to do with the pie, they indeed had plenty of canned milk, eggs and Key limes on board (and plenty of sponges for clean-up).

In other countries where Key limes grow, they are used more commonly in many dishes and as a popular flavoring. Although grown for centuries in Asian and South America, they didn’t make an appearance in the U.S. until the late 1800s. which means foodie president Thomas Jefferson missed out entirely. (How he would have loved those pies!)

If you visit Key West, pie factories and bakeries abound, and you can literally eat your way from one end to the other, reveling in the different offerings and deciding for yourself which one you like best. There are also shops which sell dozens of products enhanced with Key lime, such as moisturizers, potpourri, candles, soaps, candies and cookies. Unfortunately for much of America, procuring authentic Key limes is not always easy, and using regular limes just won’t do. Oh sure, you can buy bottled juice which the locals would frown on, but for some it’s better than nothing.