Rice is a continuing source of debate in both the online world and my own. Sites like the Perfect Health Diet encourage rice as a “safe” starch, and other Paleo/Primal folks like Mark Sisson consider it okay provided everything else is going well in your diet. However, most Paleo dieters shun this gluten-free food due to its high glycemic index and label as a “grain”.
For the first couple weeks after starting the Paleo diet I was feeling great, with more energy than I had felt in years. And then I totally crashed, and was more tired than my usual constantly-tired state. I felt that it was probably because my body had run out of fat to burn (I was getting scarily skinny), and I just couldn’t eat enough fat to keep my body going, even after reintroducing dairy fats like butter and cream. So I reintroduced rice and potatoes in limited amounts, and felt great again. But then I felt guilty, that I wasn’t being “orthodox Paleo”, so I started to cut them out again. This time I tracked everything I ate through myfitnesspal.com (great food tracker, btw), and cut my total daily carbs down to about 40g a day, almost all of it from veggies and some fruit. My tiredness returned in full force. In comes rice again (100-150g of carbs/day, the Primal Blueprint maintenance range), and I feel great again.
I may experiment with my diet again in the future, but for now, I’m sticking with rice. I simply can’t eat enough fat in one day to keep me from shrinking to near-starvation levels on a carb-free diet. 100-150g of carbs from rice and potatoes seems to make me feel the best.
In celebration, here’s how I cook basmati rice on a stovetop (we have a nice Zojirushi rice maker, but basmati never comes out right).
2 cups uncooked basmati rice
one large potato, sweet potato, yam
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp tumeric or 1 pinch saffron (I used tumeric this time)
Step one, soak the rice in water. 20 minutes is the minimum, but you can do it for a couple hours if you’d like. Drain and rinse it.
Boil it in lightly-salted water for about seven minutes, until the rice starts to float to the top. Drain the rice and leave it while you do the next step.
Slice the potato into large rings and line the bottom of the pot with them. Add the coconut oil. Melt the butter and mix it with the tumeric or saffron.
Gently scoop the rice on top of the potatoes, making a pyramid shape. Be careful not to compact the rice. Pour the butter mixture on top in a swirling motion.
Place a cloth over the rice and then put the lid on top. Set it to medium heat and let it boil for about five minutes. Then lower the heat to med/low and let it simmer for another 45 minutes.
Mix the rice gently with a rice paddle. I sometimes add a potato from the bottom of the pot (now browned on one side) to go with the rice on each dish. Because it looks nice.
The rice is perfect for curry (chicken tikka masala)…
…but is also great the next day with breakfast, or for frying.