by Staci O’Connor, RD, CLC, CDN
According to ancient Chinese legend, black rice was so rare, tasty and nutritious that only the emperors were allowed to eat it and now you can find it in a grocery store near you. Black rice (also known as “forbidden rice” or “purple rice”) is a whole grain that is high in protein, fiber, and iron with trace amounts of fat and sodium (black rice is also gluten-free for those of you that need to follow a gluten-free diet).
The dark color of the grain comes from its health-promoting anthocyanin antioxidant content. New research from Louisiana State University has found that black rice contains health-promoting anthocyanin antioxidants that are similar to those that are found in blackberries and blueberries. A spoonful of black rice bran or 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice contain the same amount of anthocyanin as a spoonful of fresh blueberries but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E.
For those of you that are interested in trying black rice, expect a mild and nutty taste. If you are or your family are unsure of adding it into your meal, try to add it in gradually (cook half white rice and half black rice, mix it together after they are both cooked and gradually increase the amount of black rice used in cooking). There are also many ways to use black rice besides just eating it as a side dish, you can make black-rice powder by putting the dried kernels into a coffee grinder and add a dusting of the powder on fish or chicken. Black rice is also a healthy substitute for noodles in a pasta salad and you can use it instead of white rice in a rice dish. You can even add black rice to stuffing or use it to make a dessert such as rice pudding. Enjoy!