by Malia Kirby L.Ac.
If there’s one thing I find myself telling patients about grocery shopping more than anything else, it’s
that they should shop the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid going into the aisles as much as
possible. The perimeter is where you’ll find your fresh foods—fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs,
mushrooms, meats and seafood, eggs and dairy, breads and baked goods, and if you’re lucky, fresh
pastas, artisan cheeses and meats, olives and antipasti, and a bulk section. The aisles, well, that’s where
you’re going to find your heavily salted and HFCS-laden food-stuffs that have had the actual food
content over processed right on out of them, hence the need for all the salt and sweetener to keep
them from tasting exactly like sawdust.
I’ll admit I get a little hyperactive about this particular issue, especially since fresh foods just taste better
than the junk that can be displayed neatly on a shelf without spoiling for months (or years!) upon end,
but considering that we’re reliant on our post-heaven qi, part of which includes what we’re taking in
from food and beverage, it’s hardly a leap to see that it’s absolutely vital that what we’re eating should
have as much of its natural nutritional content as possible in order to thrive. Plus, considering the
widespread problems of hypertension and diabetes mellitus, it’s kind of a no-brainer that as a whole, we
could all do with a little less salt and sugar in our lives.
Most of the time, my patients are 100% on board with me. We’re lucky enough to live in Boulder,
where shopping at the Farmer’s Market is a time-honored tradition and CSA shares are as common as
medicinal marijuana prescriptions. If anything, I’m more likely to explain to a patient that it’s really ok
that they savored some Jamon Iberico ham over the weekend and that they really don’t need to feel
guilty about it. Most recently, one of my discussions with a patient included her guilt over the fact that
she has repeatedly tried to make rice pilaf at home, but she had been so frustrated with what she had
come up with, that she was back to making Uncle Ben’s on the stove in order to get her husband and
kids to eat something resembling a grain.
Granted, there’s not anything really wrong with that. I figure it’s better to get grains in the system
rather than in the garbage disposal, but after a quick chat regarding her family’s food preferences, this
was actually a fairly easy fix. I scribbled out a quick recipe for her to toss in her rice cooker (specifically,
if you’re in the market, I recommend a Zojirushi neuro fuzzy cooker, a small appliance that I personally
consider to be a godsend in the kitchen. If it ever dies, I will immediately leave the house and buy
another. Stovetop burner real estate is precious in our home), and at her appointment last week, she
was all smiles. Her hubby and kids told her that whatever flavor it was that she switched to should be
what she buys at the store from now on, and she had the personal satisfaction of knowing that her
family was eating something much, much healthier for them. If that isn’t a small victory, I don’t know
what is. What follows from here is the exact recipe I wrote out for her in that appointment a few weeks
ago. I hope you enjoy it as much as her family does.
Note: Bear in mind, you can toss all the ingredients in the rice cooker together and make it a one-step
process, but your mushrooms and veggies will be much softer in texture and I like a little more tooth to
them. Sautéing them separately at the end will result in a much better texture, but if you’re more
concerned with ease and one pot cooking, don’t let me stop you. Also, I’ve recommended Lundberg’s
wild rice blend here because I like it more than blends with white rice. If you choose a blend with white
rice, you will significantly reduce your cooking time—roughly to 25-30 minutes. I’d recommend using a
semibrown setting over a mixed rice setting; in my experience, wild rice cooks better that way.
Mushroom & Herb Wild Rice Pilaf
1 c Lundberg’s wild rice blend, rinsed
1 ½ - 2 c chicken or vegetable broth (dependent on cooking method)
2 T butter or olive oil, divided
1 bay leaf
2 t fresh thyme, minced
1 t fresh oregano, minced
½ t fresh marjoram, minced
Pinch fresh rosemary, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic confit, pureed
1 c mixed mushrooms, cut to small dice
¼ c celery, cut to small dice
¼ c carrot, cut to small dice
½ t fresh basil, minced
1 T fresh parsley, minced
Rice cooker method:
Place the wild rice blend, 1 ½ broth, 1 T of the butter or olive oil, bay, thyme, oregano, marjoram,
rosemary, shallot, and garlic confit in the rice cooker and cook on the brown rice setting, which should
cook for approximately 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the model.
Heat 2 c of broth in a medium saucepan to boiling, the add the wild rice blend, chosen fat, bay, thyme,
oregano, marjoram, rosemary, shallot, and garlic confit. Reduce to a simmer and cover for 45 minutes
or until cooked through.
During the last five minutes of cooking time, regardless of whether you’re using a rice cooker or on the
stovetop, sauté the mushrooms, celery, and carrot in the remaining tablespoon of butter or olive oil
until tender, approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle with the minced basil and parsley,
then toss with the cooked wild rice blend. Serve immediately.
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