Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Brown Rice

Rice is a staple of many diets, and it’s commonly served as a side dish to entrees at Mexican and Asian restaurants.   The kind that’s served at restaurants (and perhaps in your very own home) is usually of the white variety, meaning it provides calories, starch, and little else in the way of nutrition.  There is, however, a much healthier alternative out there in the form of unprocessed, whole grain, brown rice.  Brown rice is white rice before it’s been processed – it contains the whole rice grain, including the fiber-rich bran and germ.  Brown rice is also a naturally good source of certain B vitamins, iron, and magnesium, which are all lost when it gets processed into white rice.  Nowadays, it’s very common for restaurants to serve brown rice as an alternative to white – you just have to ask for it.  Substituting brown rice for white is such an easy way to make any meal a little more nutritious, so why not give it a try the next time you make or order your favorite rice-containing meal?  Or, you can start from scratch and use brown rice in a new and non-traditional way, like in the recipe below.

Meatless Meatballs

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
½ small onion, chopped
¼ cup mushrooms, chopped
¼ cup raw sunflower kernels
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1 can (15.5 oz) red kidney beans, drained
1 large egg, or ¼ cup egg substitute
¼ cup panko bread crumbs (preferably whole wheat)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Black pepper, to taste
Olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil that’s been coated with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Add carrot, onion, and mushrooms to food processor; pulse until very finely chopped.
  3. Add sunflower seeds; pulse 2-3 times. Add rice; pulse 3-4 times.   Add beans, pulse 2-3 times.
  4. Stir mixture together and pulse an additional 2-3 times.
  5. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Add egg, panko, Italian seasoning, cheese, and pepper to bowl; mix to combine.
  6. Scoop out 2 tablespoons of the mixture; roll in hands until smooth and even.
  7. Arrange balls on baking sheet. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until balls are lightly browned, turning after 10 minutes of cook time. Serve with your favorite pasta and sauce.  Makes about 2 dozen balls.

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