R is for Rice

When you first learn about the gluten free diet, your are told no wheat, rye or barely.  But rice is nice. Maybe you thought, OK, that is simple, easy, and boring.

Au contraire. Rice is a staple all over the world. Think of standard dishes like Latin American arroz con pollo, Indian curries, Asian fried rice, Southern hopping john, Spanish paella, Italian risotto, Japanese sushi. These are some mighty tasty dishes.


field-of-rice photo by USA Rice

Rice forms

Did you think, “white on rice?” You know what I am picturing, plain white rice. But there is so much more to sample. Imagine, 7000 different kinds of rice  grown around the world! With every combination of color, shape, and size that you can think of. See rice and chicken salad with whole grain rice blend below.

Rice is available as a whole grain or refined, enriched or not. Refined rice has the bran and the germ removed. It is white and is less nutritious than whole grain rice. Unless it is enriched-with iron, niacin, thiamin and folic acid.

Dry rice is available raw, partially or fully cooked. Converted rice is steamed under pressure with the hull on, to force some of the nutrients into the grain. It is then refined to remove the hull. It cooks quicker than whole grain rice, but not quite as quickly as white does.

Instant rice is fully cooked rice that is dehydrated and packaged. It is usually blah and mushy, I am not a fan. Some kinds of fully cooked rice are now available, needing only 90 seconds to warm. These are usually seasoned and you must read the label for gluten containing ingredients.


7-kinds-of-rice photo by vsimon

from the top and clockwise- basmati, arborio, just a tiny bit of forbidden, black glutinous (it isn’t all black), black and mahogany blend, whole grain blend, long-grain brown and wild rice blend


Whole grain rice comes in many colors including brown, red, mahogany, and black. And even several scents. Jasmine really does smell like Jasmine flowers, and Wehani rice smells like popcorn when it is cooked. That is enough to get your taste buds going.


Long grain rice– think long and lanky. The grains stay separate and fluffy when cooked and are perfect for dishes like rice pilaf, or as a bed for saucy dishes. Basmati and Jasmine are common kinds of long grain rice.

Medium grain rice– shorter with a bit thicker grain, average in every way. Use it in average dishes. 🙂

Short grain rice– the short fat guys of the rice world. The grains are especially starchy and sticky. I think we should use short grain rice more often.

  • Arborio is a type of refined short grain rice and perfect for tender white risotto and rice pudding. The rice gives the creamy consistency even without adding cream.
  • Sushi rice is another short type and the grains stick together well.
  • Sweet or glutinous rice is a form of short grain rice. Although it is called glutinous because it is sticky, it does not have any gluten in it. I use sweet rice flour all the time to thicken sauces, even for clients that are not gluten free. It simply works better than wheat flour, does not clump after being frozen and thawed, and it is inexpensive. It imparts no flavor or color to the sauce.
  • I use sweet brown rice, dried fruit and spice to make breakfast risotto in my crock-pot overnight. This risotto is a bit toothsome with a sweet syrupy base. Think about inhaling deeply as you arise to the fragrance of warm cinnamon. I will post this recipe in the cool fall.


It is all small, but some kinds are smaller than others. Really small, only ¼ of an inch long. It is cute and it cooks quickly.


white rice photo by USA Rice

Cooking rice

Whole grain rice can take 30-45 minutes on the stovetop. But I cook it in the pressure cooker all the time. This usually takes only 10-15 minutes.

White rice takes about 15 minutes on the stovetop.

Dry instant rice can be ready in 5-10 minutes.

Many people swear by their rice cookers. And some more just swear at them. I have not tried a rice cooker, so cannot comment on them. I simply do not want another space taking tool in the kitchen.


I like whole grain, just as nature intended. All the pretty colors and fiber intact. Though any rice, even whole grain, is not really a high fiber food. Enriched rice is lower in fiber, but higher in iron, niacin, thiamin and folic acid. It is higher than the original whole grain rice the processors started with. Especially for folate.

One cup of cooked enriched white rice provides about 1/3 the daily requirement for folic acid. Maybe that is important to you. Or maybe you take a daily multivitamin and it does not really matter.

ricesalad (2)

rice-chicken-red-grape-salad-with-whole-grain-rice-blend  photo by vsimon

Whole Grain Rice, Chicken, and Red Grape Salad

This is adapted long ago from a “country” magazine,                                                 but I am sorry I do not know which one.

Serves 6                                              Metric measures

1 cup whole grain rice blend               170 gm

2 cups water                                       500 ml

1 pound cooked, diced chicken           1/2 kg

1 1/2 cup red grapes                          150 gm

1 cup peas, fresh or frozen                 150 gm

2 celery ribs, sliced                              same

4 green onions, sliced                         same

2 tablespoons vinegar                        30 ml

1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce   15 ml

2 tsp toasted sesame oil                    10 ml

1/2 cup slivered almonds                    60 gm

Put rice and broth in a pressure cooker. Lock and bring to pressure. Cook rice for 15 minutes. Allow to cool naturally. Or cook on the stovetop according to package directions.

Allow rice to cool. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Serve chilled, room temperature, or warmed.

*I have attempted to add metric measures for our friends in the rest of the world. Please let me know if some of it makes no sense.

What is your favorite rice, and your favorite rice dish?