Finding recipes that incorporate natural, wild, and healthy whole grains is difficult. Wild rice is one of those grains for me. I love it's nutty, aromatic flavor, but have a difficult time finding unique ways to serve it.
This recipe has become a staple for us. It is easy to make, delicious, and even the kiddos enjoy it.
There are some steps to this, but nothing elaborate. It is best if left to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours/overnight before serving. It also makes a an easy make ahead lunch idea for adults and kids alike.
Wild Rice is not technically a rice, although it is a distant cousin. It is the seed of a marsh grass found in the northern regions of the world. The most commonly eaten species come from North America and China. Wild Rice is an ancient grain that has been eaten since the primitive times. Native American culture of North America used the grain for trade, and as a staple in cooking. They used it in soups and doughs. One Traditional recipe stewed Wild Rice grains in Venison broth and Maple Syrup…actually sounds pretty tasty.
Wild Rice use to be a popular wild grain. It has lost a little favor over the years to some other exotic grains (Quinoa). Unlike Quinoa, Wild Rice is cultivated here in the US and does not need to imported. Like Quinoa, Wild Rice is a rich, whole grain source of protein, fat, fiber, minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients. Wild Rice has double the protein of brown rice, the same amount as Quinoa, specifically high in Lysine. Here are some more Wild Rice Nutrition Highlights:
Wild Rice is a super nutritious, whole grain option. For those of you who want the nutritional benefits of Quinoa, but are concerned about the political complications and the importation, should try homegrown Wild Rice.
Sweet Potato and Wild Rice Salad
This filling is so versatile. I make these a lot during the fall, when my chard is exceptionally prolific. It can be used with any green. I have made it with Spinach, Chard, Kale, and Beet Greens.
Many of us know that we need to eat our greens, but we often find it hard to find ways to incorporate it into our daily diet. Especially with kids. They can be pretty picky. My 7 year old loves this recipe, and even asked me make it for her birthday.
With all of the herbs and the Spinach, these filling is a nutritional powerhouse.
Spinach is your richest source of plant based minerals. It is also one of the highest in Oxalic Acid. Please see my blog post on Oxalic Acid. Cooking spinach unlocks it mineral profile, making it much more absorbable. Buying Organic Spinach is important, as it is highly fertilized and sprayed with pesticides, which destroy its enzyme profile.
I cup of Spinach gives you all your Vitamin K for the day. Vitamin K is an important vitamin for blood clotting and healing. It is becoming an increased problem for women who are pregnant. (hence the standard of care protocol for Vitamin K shots for babies at birth).
I think many people forget, or don't realize that the plants we use to season our food also have nutritional value.
Many of us just look at the vitamins and minerals in foods, and miss out on all the other important compounds that affect our health.
sPANAKOPITA - sPINACH & fETA pIE
Option 1 - Pie Crusts
Option 2 - Phyllo Dough Appetizer Sized
Do you save your extra ripe bananas? I do. We can never seem to make it through our banana bunches fast enough. I don't like bananas, honestly, but LOVE banana bread. So, maybe part of me actually wants them get over ripe so I can save them up for a big batch of this amazing bread. Freezing them makes them extra juicy and the bread extra moist as well.
I recently had enough bananas saved up to make 3x this recipe. The girls and I had a great afternoon whipping up batch after batch. Two of the loaves went back into the freezer for future deliciousness.
Of course, I have to mess with recipes. I cannot just love a recipe and make it the same every time. I am always experimenting. This one came out great, and the kiddos loved it. My original recipe called for equal parts sugar and flour. To me that is just crazy sweet, and it drowns out the flavor of the bananas, no need for that much sugar. So, not only did I cut it down, but I replaced 50% with coconut sugar. I also used sprouted, whole grain flour, and I added Chia Seeds, and Cinnamon.
Chia seeds are these super tiny, super cute seeds. YES, they are the same seeds that we used as kids to make those awesome Chia Pets grow. Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia! I sing it every time I pull out the bag.
In Oriental Nutrition, Chia Seeds are a Qi Tonic that treats dryness in the body. They moisten and lubricate not only the intestines, but the skin and hair as well. They give the body a burst of sustained and usable energy. In Native American cultures Chia Seeds were consumed before contests and battles to give those who consumed them long lasting energy.
Chia Seeds are second only to Flax in the amount of Omega 3 Fatty Acids they contain, and unlike Flax, they do not need to be ground in order to access these EFA's.
The Nutritional Profile of Chia Seeds help make it a good food for reducing inflammation and treating insulin resistance (a growing problem in all age groups.). The Magnesium in Chia Seeds regulates the secretion of insulin and its uptake into the cells. The high fiber content is slow to break down and reduces insulin spikes. Overall, Chia Seeds have been shown to slow the secretion of glucose into the blood.
No one in my house has issues with insulin resistance, but that doesn't mean I don't want to prevent it. So, I take steps in my cooking, especially when baking or making sweet treats, to keep the sugar levels down, and add ingredients that lessen the effects of sugar in the body. Cinnamon is a great addition to sweet breads like this one.
In Oriental Medicine Cinnamon is not only for culinary use, but is a medical herb found in the Materia Medica. It's uses are vast. Considered a Warming/Sweet/Acrid herb, it is used to treat conditions of; common colds, joint pain, menstrual irregularity, asthma, increases circulation, night sweats and wasting and thirsting disease (diabetes).
Cinnamon and Sugar....it just sounds right doesn't it. There is conflicting research on Cinnamon for lowering blood sugar. Most of these focus on long term supplemental use of high doses of cinnamon not associated with a meal. One study I found researched what happened when Cinnamon was added to sugar. In this study, there was a slowing of the absorption of the sugar in the group that consumed equal amounts of cinnamon with the sugar. The theory, based on this study, is that cinnamon binds to the sugar molecules and slows their digestion and absorption into the blood stream.
Coconut Sugar is still a sugar. It is a lower glycemic sweetener, YES, but it is fructose and fructose is not measured by the glycemic index. The glycemic index does measure how quickly a foods raises your blood sugar. So in that regard, coconut sugar is better than regular sugar. Some other benefits of coconut sugar are that, unlike granulated sugar, it is full of minerals like zinc and iron, and an array of antioxidants. It also has a high Inulin content. A fiber that isn't digested but works as a prebiotic feeding the good bacteria in your digestive system. So, overall, there are more benefits to using it over granulated white sugar.
Fructose does not affect your blood sugar, it does however affect your Liver. Unlike glucose, which can be metabolized in every cell in your body, fructose can only be metabolized in the liver. It's metabolism mimics that of alcohol. Too much fructose, like too much alcohol, can cause the same myriad of health issues. The key is moderation. Coconut Sugar is 39% Fructose.
Caution: Just because it has a better profile that granulated sugar, does not mean you can eat it until your hearts content. All sweets and sugars should be monitored and not overeaten. Naturally occurring sweets, occasionally, is not bad, and if you are making good choices that give you added nutrition long with it, you should be just fine. Those who have inflammatory, or auto-immune issues should be wary and monitor their sugar (of any kind) intake.
Banana Walnut Chia Seed Bread
***NOTE: AS MUCH AS I HAVE TRIED TO KEEP THE GLYCEMIC VALUES DOWN, IT IS STILL NOT THE BEST. BANANAS IN GENERAL ARE A NO-NO FOOD FOR THOSE NEEDING TO CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS, AND COOKING THEM INCREASES THEIR BLOOD SUGAR RAISING QUALITIES. THAT BEING SAID, HERE ARE THE LEVELS I WAS ABLE TO REACH, AND THESE ARE ROUGH, SO IT COULD VARY BASED ON THE INGREDIENTS YOU USE AND HOW BIG YOUR SERVING SIZE IS.