What’s the best way to cook rice?

Preparing rice is one of those things passed down through generations. You never really need to read the instructions on the packet, it’s just in-grained (excuse the pun). Now we have so many different types of rice available to us, we don’t necessarily know the ins and outs of cooking every different grain. 

If you are a health nut like us, you’ll also prefer eating whole grains. That’s why we tend to stick to brown rice over white rice because of it’s higher fibre content, higher mineral levels, better protein, nutrient profile and because it’s generally less processed. 

The challenges with cooking rice are two-fold. Rice in general, contains arsenic, a heavy metal that our bodies don’t love too much of. Brown rice specifically, contains phytic acid, an antinutrient which can stop you properly absorbing all that healthy stuff that comes with it. 

That’s why preparing brown rice properly is key and requires only a little forward thinking. Just soak it in filtered water for 24 hours which releases most of the nasties!

So here’s our quick guide on how to cook the lesser cooked rice:

  1. Soak the brown rice for 24 hours in filtered water before cooking. This ensures that the phytic acid (antinutrient) and arsenic content is significantly lowered and it reduces cooking time. 
  2. After 24 hours, rinse the rice with filtered water. 
  3. If using a rice cooker, set it to “multigrain” and cover with water about 3cm above the top of the rice. 
  4. If using a pot, cover with water about half an inch above the rice boil on medium heat, uncovered for 20 minutes.

Voila, healthy and delicious!

Grow Your Own Way

Gardening isn’t just for those with access to outdoor space; indeed, as urban dwellers, we need to find nifty ways to make use of our more compact, mostly indoor spaces. Not only is it utterly satisfying to unearth your green fingers – pun intended – but it can also vastly improve your day-to-day life and help save the environment.

For starters, anything that gets us off our phones is considered a winner! There is something incredibly rewarding about creating things with your very own hands and watching the fruits of your labour flourish (oops I punned again). A guaranteed stress reliever, it’ll give your weary brain a break from daily stressors as you concentrate on the task at hand. You can make it a solo or a team effort – get the kids involved.

When it comes to what you should grow, let’s start off slowly. An herb garden is simple: there’s minimal commitment in terms of “real estate” and upkeep; it’s cost-effective; and it says goodbye to that nasty plastic packaging shop-bought herbs come in. Plus, how can you beat the freshness? The easiest herbs to grow indoors include parsley, coriander, chives, basil and thyme. Moreover, sprouting is even easier and it’s even more cost effective!  Another perk is that sprouting increases vitamin B and C and also the fibre content…. talk about benefits!

So, take your pick from seeds, legumes and beans, with mung beans, alfalfa and lentils being the best for beginners.  But you can pretty much sprout anything – from Chia seeds to onions, and even chickpeas or kale…if you’re feel a bit more adventurous!

The Responsible Alcoholic

Once in a while I do enjoy a fun night out… especially a girls night out when you can really let loose.

I have been thinking for a while now about how I can be more sustainable in my habits, which include my regular social activities.  To be honest, drinking is definitely one of my most enjoyable “habits”. Conversations about alcohol almost always focuses on safe alcohol consumption, which is certainly important. What’s missing however is any mention about sustainable alcohol consumption.

As a strong believer of the “power of the dollar,” I thought about my consumption trends to see where opportunities may exist – and of course, alcohol is definitely an important aspect.  

Let’s be honest, the holiday season is here and yes, I am not going to lie: I do enjoy drinking (responsibly).  From attending wine tastings with my husband, to trying fun cocktail recipes with my friends, to have a refreshing beer while catching up on college football games, I enjoy all types of fun (and safe) drinking (and it’s such a great way to unwind after the kids go to bed 😉 !  The glass of wine I pour for myself after the kids goes to bed feels like a well deserved award that I have earned and sometimes I reward myself a few times (glasses) over.    

So I thought I’d start by sharing a bit about what I’ve been learning about “sustainable” drinking. I read through many articles and chatted with some of my friends who are more knowledgeable with the alcohol manufacturing process and found that some major focuses include:

  • Water management – the amount of water that’s used, as well as where the water is sourced (whether from water scarce locations or not); 
  • Energy management – the amount of energy consumed during the manufacturing process and the type of energy (renewable or traditional grid energy);
  • Packaging materials – the amount of packaging that’s used and whether these materials are recyclable or not.

Of course there are other considerations including employee health and safety, sourcing of other raw materials (i.e., grapes for wine, wheat/barley for beers and liquors, etc.); and there are certainly no ‘easy’ or simple choices as it depends on the company’s policies and practices and also what may be most/more important to you (i.e., water usage vs. packaging materials, etc.) and of course carbon foot print.  

From what I’ve gathered, drinking locally is best – it minimizes the transportation impact on the environment, it generally involves greater use of local materials, and of course, it supports your community! Everyone has their drink of choice and there is no easy, perfectly sustainable choice per se. But here are some considerations that I thought were interesting to share:

  • Wine uses less water than beer and liquor, but leaves a bigger environmental footprint through the transportation process;
  • Local breweries for beers are the best. For imported beers (requires far traveling), cans may be better than bottle (lighter) and typically easier to recycle;
  • Liquor’s distillation process is probably the most energy and water consuming of all, but depending on the company’s policies and practices, there can be room for improvement in terms of reducing its environmental impacts.

So next time when you are thinking about grabbing a drink, think about some of the considerations before making a selection. It would be ideal to drink responsibly in a personal and environmental way!