Wild rice is one of the most nutritious types of rice available from the many varieties in stores and markets around the world. This rice actually comes from a specific strain of rice called Zizania, which is a grain that grows most prominently in North America and China. This type of rice is very different from Asian rice, and grows in shallow water, low-level lakes and even babbling brooks and streams. It grows ‘wild,’ thus its name, but is also farmed for both the stalk and the grain it provides. There are three species native to North America, and one to China.
Wild rice has a very high nutritional content. Several Native American tribes considered this rice to be a staple (base) food in their diet due to its healthful benefits. It is high in an important amino acid called lysine, contains a lot of protein and is very low in fat. It also contains some important trace minerals such as potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin and thiamine, the latter of which we know as vitamins B1 and B3. Wild rice is almost an ideal food. It lacks only vitamin C and a few other amino acids that the body requires.
Wild rice can be purchased processed, meaning it is still whole, and has not been polished like white rice, where the shaft is milled from the hull, leaving only the endoderm; it can also be purchased hand-picked which is considered some of the finest rice available. Commercially grown ‘wild’ is often darker in color than hand-picked. Due to the efficiency of commercially grown rice, it is often much cheaper, but for real food connoisseurs; you can try hand-picked as many small farms follow the harvesting traditions of Native American Indians such as push pole navigation. The very finest wild rice is both hand-picked and certified organic; so it will retain the utmost nutritional value all the way from the fields to your plate. Just check packaging carefully to know what you are purchasing, especially if you are paying a premium price.
If you are wondering how to cook wild rice, there are quite a few healthy and delicious recipes. Wild stuffing is a favorite dish at most households during Thanksgiving holidays, and can be prepared in many ways, including adding cranberries, dried or dehydrated oranges, mushrooms, onions, hazelnuts, and even fresh thyme and parsley. It is an aromatic and satisfying dish, so for those of you preparing a meal for vegetarians, it suffices alone, or can be served with Turkey as part of a delightful holiday feast. You can pop wild rice, like popcorn to use as a garnish in salads during summer and spring, and even make appetizing rice casseroles or soups and other nourishing items during cold winter months. Wild rice can be mixed with fruit for a fruit and rice salad too. As you can see, there are many methods available on how to cook rice. One of the easiest ‘wild’ recipes ever is to mix cooked rice with pre-canned chicken soup. It makes for a tasty nutritious meal.
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