Make Mine Brown

I snuggled my buttocks onto the wooden chair, pulled the chair eagerly to give me a full arms reach of the menu card, pretended to browse through it, and quickly signaled the waiter and ordered my usual, Sinigang na Sugpo sa Bayabas. I was very hungry and knew exactly what I wanted for dinner! My husband orders Chicken Barbecue, of course.

Courteously the waiter asked, “How would you like to have your rice, Sir?” Of course he meant, would it be plain steamed white rice, Java Rice, or Garlic Rice. My husband orders a double java rice. He too must be very hungry! Then the waiter throws me a how about you-look. And with a thwarted smile for not asking me first, I said, “Oh, make mine brown!”

brown rice-02Puzzled, he said said “Ma’am, red po yung java rice, ’yun po ba?” Of course, I was just kidding the waiter, knowing that this restaurant does not offer brown rice. I responded, “No, I changed my mind. Make that white rice.” And the waiter nodded, went off scratching his head and placed our orders.

My husband and I have been eating brown rice alternately with brown rice at home. It’s sad that we are only able to do this at home. We enjoy eating it for its interesting texture and flavor. It certainly adds another layer of texture to the meal. We did not feel the usual bloated feeling after a heavy meal. What a blissful feeling (no guilt). We also observed that we ate less rice when it was brown and not white, with the same level of satiety. Doing the long sits and pushing at the toilet were no longer necessary, too. Regular eating of brown rice certainly did my body a favor.

What exactly is brown rice? Rice or bigas comes from the palea of the seed called palay. Dehulling and milling the palay reveals the white interior of the grain referred to as polished white rice, the preferred staple food among Filipinos. Contrary to usual perception, brown rice is not necessarily brown in color. All unmilled rice, regardless of the predominant pigment, is referred to as brown rice. Locally, all brown rice is called Pinawa.

Brown rice is an excellent source of energy, B vitamins, minerals, fiber and an important source of anti-oxidants. The higher fiber content due to unmilling provides the greater bulk and higher satiety value of this food. Fiber contributes to the faster transit time of food from the stomach to the larger intestines, reducing the amounts of nutrients that may be absorbed in the gut. The fiber also helps reduce the digestion of food, leaving less of these absorbed, especially the macronutrients like carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. A cup of cooked brown rice easily provides about 2 grams crude fiber. This may meet about about 8% of the daily fiber requirement of a female adult. So, eating thrice a day makes a neat 24% of your daily requirement! No need to go for the expensive muesli bars!


The high level of pigment of the unmilled rice also work wonders for our health. Pigments in brown rice, including anthcyanin, are phytochemicals that help scavenge free radicals often associated with cancer. While vegetables and fruits compares higher in terms of pigment content, eating brown rice boosts the levels further up the scale. Brown rice also contains some essential oils, those that contain fatty acids that our bodies need and cannot produce. This is really an add-on missing in white rice.

Truly, no natural rice can beat brown rice in terms of health and nutrition goodness. It is available, affordable, local, sustainable, and delicious! Last Christmas, everyone got a bag of brown rice from me as a present. As I mentioned at one of our corporate meetings, “Why don’t we give health on Christmas day?” I personally gave tips on how to cook it. “Cook it as you would white rice, but with a ratio of 3 cups water to 1 cup brown rice.” I also gifted some of them with my e-book on Philippine Ingredients Volume 2, which features rice, grains, nuts, and seeds, and beans and legumes that are indigenous to our country. There is a special section on brown rice.

I am now scouting for restaurants that offer brown rice to their clients. And, I hope that the waiter will nod enthusiastically when I say, “make mine brown!”.



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