Grains of Goodness: All About Rice

Simply steamed, baked, or used in a stir-fry, a savory sauté, or as the key component of a main-dish salad, rice provides flavor, texture, and even color to a variety of Phase 2 dishes.Whether you’d like to try a robust rice and vegetable bake that takes just 10 minutes to assemble, a colorful rice and bean salad to serve on greens, or a zesty shrimp and tomato sauté served over wild rice, you’ll find plenty of reasons to call rice nice.

Here’s a guide to the best rice varieties to choose once you’re on Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet.

Basmati: Both white and brown basmati rice are permissible on Phase 2, with brown basmati having more fiber and nutrients than white basmati. White basmati rice is allowed because it is lower on the glycemic index than regular white rice and, as a result, won’t cause the blood sugar swings that could occur with eating regular white rice. Brown basmati rice gets a burst of flavor in our Southwestern Rice & Pinto Bean Salad, thanks to the ground cumin, crushed garlic, and sherry vinegar. The rice is tossed with pinto beans, and chopped bell pepper and scallions, and can be served on a bed of greens, if desired.

Black: This medium-grain rice turns a deep purplish color when cooked and has a pleasantly soft texture and nutty, earthy flavor. It can be prepared as you would brown rice and is a beautiful side dish when sprinkled with the fresh herbs of your choice. A few thinly sliced fresh basil leaves make a lovely topping on black rice. For extra flavor, stir in a little grated Parmesan cheese.

Brown: Nutritious brown rice has a light tan color, chewy texture, and nutty flavor. Use it in place of white rice in stir-fries, pilafs, and casseroles. For a slightly exotic rice dish, sauté brown rice with sliced onion in a little olive oil in a medium saucepan, then add water (twice as much water as rice), along with some ground cardamom, and pinches of curry powder, ground cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Simmer, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. The next time you have company, try our Curried Brown Rice with Mushrooms and Peas, in which the rice is sautéed in an ovenproof saucepan with leeks and mushrooms, then combined with vegetable broth, peas, cilantro, hot sauce, and reduced-sodium soy sauce, and baked to perfection.

Wild: Wild rice is actually the seeds of an aquatic grass that grows in freshwater lakes and rivers. It’s high in protein and fiber, and is delicious when paired with brown rice. Try cooking wild rice in vegetable broth or lower-sodium chicken broth, then tossing it with chopped fresh parsley, thinly sliced scallions, a pinch of kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Wild rice is also delicious in this Savory Shrimp over Wild Rice, where it’s served as the base for a colorful shrimp and cherry tomato sauté seasoned with garlic, parsley, and paprika.

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