Healthy Bites for September: National Rice Month

Rice bowlLooking for healthy, budget-friendly foods that are also delicious? Rice is a healthy, versatile, and economical dish. September is National Rice Month, and rice is the most popular grain globally, supplying energy, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Check out the following tips and information on the recommendations and nutritional value of rice as well as ways to use rice in dishes.

Rice to Know Information and Tips:

  • MyPlate and rice. The amount of grains you need to eat depends on your age, gender, and level of physical activity. Recommended daily amounts are listed below. Most Americans consume enough grains, but few are whole grains. At least half of all the grains eaten should be whole grains.
  • Whole grain goodness. Whole-grain rice can be brown, black, red or wild.  The whole grain is the entire seed of a plant which includes the bran, germ and endosperm.  Together, these provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and other important nutrients. Enhance your next meal with the whole- grain goodness of brown, red, black or wild rice to add flavor, color and crunch to your dish. Nutritional value. Rice is sodium- and cholesterol-free, as well as gluten-free and the least allergenic of all grains. It is a nutrient-dense food and contributes over 15 vitamins and minerals, including folate and other B vitamins, iron and zinc. Brown rice is a 100 percent whole grain. Rice has approximately 100 calories per half-cup serving. Rice provides more than 15 vitamins and minerals, including B-vitamins, iron, and zinc.
  • Rice economics. At approximately 10 cents per half-cup serving, rice is economical, easy to prepare and pairs well with other healthy foods such as vegetables, meat, seafood and soy foods. Cooked rice may be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days or frozen for two to three months. So prepare batches of rice ahead of time to use with meals throughout the week.
  • Reheating rice. Add 2 tablespoons of liquid per cup of rice. For reheating on range top, cover and heat about 5 minutes until heated throughout. Use low heat for best results. The amount of time may vary slightly depending on how much you're reheating. Fluff with a fork. For microwave reheating, cover and cook on high about 1 minute per cup. Cook frozen rice 2 minutes on high for each cup. Fluff with a fork.
  • Adding rice to meals. Try combining white and brown rice in one dish or add brown rice in soups, stews, salads, casseroles or stir-fries. Mix up rice in the stuffing for baked green peppers or tomatoes. Create a whole-grain pilaf with a mixture of barley, wild rice, brown rice, broth and spices. For a special touch, stir in toasted nuts or chopped dried fruit.

Feel free to use/adapt Healthy Bites material (with credit) for your own articles, blogs, handouts, etc. An example credit line would be: Authored by or Adapted from Lisa Franzen-Castle, PhD, RD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Nutrition Specialist. Healthy Bites Newsletter,, September 2014.

Download a printable copy of this month's Healthy Bites Newsletter (PDF, 435 KB)

More resources:

 Now, you're cooking with brown rice! This site has tips for storing, selecting, and reheating rice as well as recipes such as Greek rice salad, Mexican skillet rice, and orange mint salad.

Black Bean & Rice Salad Recipe. This is a great basic recipe. Adjust the ingredients according to your preferences.

How Sweet It Is: Pineapple Rice Bake Recipe. Use brown rice in this recipe for Pineapple Rice Bake for added fiber and nutrients. The pineapple adds a nice touch of sweetness to this dish.

Fried Rice from the Fridge. Here's a quick one-dish meal that can be made from ingredients easily available from your refrigerator.

Cook Once, Eat Twice. By planning ahead you can make some of the dinner tasks you're constantly juggling easier. Spend a few extra minutes planning complementary menus where you "cook once and eat twice."

UNL Extension Calendar — National Food Days, Weeks, and Months for September.

All the Healthy Bites! Healthy Bites is a newsletter that focuses on a different food, nutrition and /or health theme for each month.