Gnowfglins: Soaking Grains

I’m wrapping up Lesson 2 in the GNOWFGLINS e-course on healthy and traditional cooking, and tonight’s dinner featured a technique I learned this week: soaking grains. Well, I actually learned this last month in the Nourished Kitchen Real Food Challenge, but for that challenge, I soaked flour for baking. Today, I soaked rice and made it from scratch.

I’ve never made “real” rice before; all of my rice experience is of the boil-in-bag, instant variety. This was the other extreme!

It’s important to soak grains to prepare their nutrition to be fully utilized by the body. Whole grains contain enzyme inhibitors and other natural substances that can actually interfere with digestion and block absorption of minerals and vitamins. Soaking the grains in an acidic solution neutralizes these substances to make the grains’ nutrients more available in digestion.

I started with a cup of dry brown basmati rice. I soaked the rice in 2 cups of filtered water with 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar. (Lemon juice or other acidic liquids could also be used). I let my rice soak for 9 hours, though overnight is even better. One benefit (besides the nutritional benefits) – this process cuts down the actual cooking time of the rice.

When my rice was ready to go, I drained the soaking liquid and replaced it with filtered water (though you could cook the rice in the soaking liquid – I wasn’t sure if I’d like the tang of the vinegar in my rice, so I played it safe).

Then, I cooked the rice and turned it into Nutty Carrot Rice!

To go with my rice, I made an Italian breaded chicken breast. I actually get 2 meals out of 1 chicken breast, so I made 2, which should feed me well next week.

Add some baby spinach with vinaigrette on the side, and you’ve got… dinner!

Chicken and riceThe rice was very good – a nice departure from plain ol’ boring rice. It had a bit of a kick to it – I guessed at the cayenne pepper and used 1/4 teaspoon, and I think I probably should have cut back to 1/8th. (I like spicy food, but “spicy” to me is “mild” to the rest of the world). It complemented the chicken very well, and had a nice, nutty flavor. Nutty rice with a kick! Mozzarella cheese would have been good on the chicken, too. I didn’t have any!

The rice recipe makes 6-8 servings (I ended up with 7), so I’ll be eating rice for a while….

Try it out! This was an easy combo, and the whole meal clocked in around a half hour prep, a half hour cook time, and around 375 calories (assuming you eat the entire chicken breast). Lots of vitamin A, too.

[recipe-show recipe=nutty-carrot-rice]

[recipe-show recipe=italian-breaded-chicken]