I was never a big fan of rice. I ate it occasionally but it wasn’t something that I ever went out of my way to make. That is until I first had basmati rice. The taste and texture of it appeals to me in ways which I cannot describe. I’m now craving it so much I have to tell myself to relax and space out my meals that include rice. After all, foods that are white are bad for you, right?
Well, it all depends what we’re talking about. Whole grain bread, pasta, and rice will contain more fiber than their processed, white counterparts. Whole grain rice also has more calcium and vitamin E than white rice. But is all white rice bad?
Something that’s common to all rice–white or whole grain–is that it’s virtually fat-free, low in sodium, and it’s gluten-free, too. People who have legitimate conditions where they cannot consume gluten can eat all the rice they want. White and whole grain rice also contains eight essential amino acids, vitamins, iron, and potassium. So white rice isn’t something that should be written off completely the way some people say all white bread is bad.
I think the key to eating rice is to have it as part of a meal rather than your entire meal. Sure, I could sit down and eat an entire bowl full of basmati rice with nothing else, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll use a bit of basmati rice as the base and then add things into it to complement it. A little bit of chicken and a lot of vegetables combined with the rice is a healthy way to satisfy my craving for rice while enjoying a balanced meal that’s delicious and filling.
Pasta has gotten a bit of a bad rap. Most people would agree that if you’re looking to lose weight or simply to maintain your weight loss, it’s best to cut out pasta completely. This isn’t necessarily true, though. As is the case with everything, moderation is key. Don’t eat it for dinner each night, and when you do, keep your serving size to a minimum. People tend to eat A LOT of pasta–certainly more than the single-serving that’s suggested on the side of the pasta box.
Along with limiting the quanity of pasta you consume, consider experimenting with other types of pasta as well. No, I don’t mean switching up your rotini for fusilli or your linguine for fettuccine. Traditional pasta that we all know and love is made with refined white durum flour. Think of this type of pasta as the white bread of the pasta world. We all know if you’re watching your waistline, you should avoid white bread and other refined starches. Fortunately there are many other options.
Switching from “normal” pasta to whole wheat pasta is definitely a healthier option, but it’s definitely an acquired taste. The texture just isn’t the same, but if you’re looking for a pasta fix, this is a suitable replacement. Just make sure that you keep the creamy sauces to a minimum, opting for a thick and chunky tomato-based sauce that will fill you up more than a thinner creamy sauce. An added bonus: whole wheat pasta has a lot more fiber than traditional pasta, which can also help you to feel more full.
Those on a gluten-free kick will likely be aware of the ever-growing availability of corn and rice-based pastas lining store shelves. These will likely seem like the healthiest option, but a quick comparison between nutrition labels will reveal that these gluten-free pastas tend to have more carbs and less fiber than the gluten-based pastas. So, unless you’re choosing gluten-free out of genuine health concerns, there’s likely a better option.
So what’s the best compromise if you want the taste and texture of traditional pasta but with the benefits of whole wheat pasta? Check out multigrain pastas at your local grocery store. They’re the best of both worlds, providing you with the increased fiber from whole wheat pasta with the familiar taste and texture from regular pasta.