Despite all of the uncertainty happening in the world right now, I am finding many of my clients are using the opportunity to focus on their nutrition. What better time than now, when we are at home more often and options to eat out are limited. This means we can spend more time meal planning and cooking together as a family. While it does require organization and forethought, there are a whole host of benefits that come along with it, including better nutrient intake, less money spent on food, less food waste, and improved cooking skills for every member of the family. And hey, given that we are homeschooling right now, cooking provides a lot of opportunity for science and math lessons to be incorporated.
If you want to start meal planning and cooking together with your family, the first step is making sure you have the right ingredients, for example by stocking the pantry. And bonus points if you can stock the pantry with versatile ingredients that can be used in more than one dish. One of my faves is U.S.-grown rice. Not only is it budget-friendly (a serving costs ~10 cents), naturally gluten-free, and easy to cook, it’s also nutrient-dense. U.S.-grown rice is a great source of:
- Magnesium which aids in muscle contraction and relaxation, lowering blood pressure, and bone health
- Potassium which plays a critical role in heart function, energy metabolism and blood pressure regulation
- Vitamin B6 which is the master vitamin in the processing of amino acids — the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones, such as serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. Eating rice triggers your brain to produce serotonin, which boosts mood and keeps appetite in check.
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I also love that rice is one of the least allergenic foods out there, making it a great choice for people with a variety of food sensitivities.
Because rice is so easy to cook; the task of cooking it can be assigned to even young kids. I get my 5 and 7-year-old to measure out the rice and water, add a bit of bouillon or rice seasoning, and put in the rice cooker. Twenty minutes later and voila, rice is served! Rice serves up the complex carbohydrates that their young minds and muscles need to function at full throttle. All. Day. Long. I always cook a bigger batch and then refrigerate and/or freeze leftovers to use in rice bowls, fried rice, wraps, soups and homemade sushi.
If you’re looking for more healthy inspo and easy how-to videos for cooking with rice, check out the ‘Think Rice’ Campaign, which is all about 5 different ways rice can be enjoyed on 5 different days, such as Sweet and Salty Brown Rice Granola for breakfast, Vegan Sushi Burritos for lunch, and Fudgy Cherry Brown Rice Squares for dessert. Happy cooking!
Although I was compensated for my time in writing this post, all ideas are mine.