Fit Food Spotlight: Black Forbidden Rice

By Kathleen Papandrea, R.D. and By Mary Parsons, M.S., R.D.

It’s hard not to be captivated by the dark and mysterious grain that’s popping up everywhere on grocery store shelves. But what is black forbidden rice, and what’s so forbidden about it?

While it’s a novelty in the U.S., black rice is a staple food for nearly half the world’s population. The name comes from ancient China, where the elegant grain was banned from commoners and reserved strictly for royalty and nobility. Thankfully, these days you don’t have to be a king to enjoy black rice’s deliciously nutty flavor and all of its nutrition benefits!

As a whole grain, black forbidden rice is very rich in fiber, as well as iron, vitamin E and other crucial minerals – just like brown rice. The main nutritional difference between the two is that black rice also contains antioxidants known as anthocyanins. These are the same disease-fighting compounds found in blueberries, red grapes, and purple cabbage, and they’re also the reason that black rice takes on a gorgeous deep purple color after cooking.

So how can you incorporate this superfood into your family’s meals? Follow these tips from Healthy Dining’s dietitians to make it both delicious and effortless:

  • Cook a double-batch. Cook once, eat twice! Since whole grains take longer to cook than refined ones, it’s easier to cook up a huge batch and refrigerate to include in meals all week.
  • Keep it simple! Just because it’s a new ingredient, it doesn’t mean you have to seek out new recipes. Include cooked black rice in all of your go-to dishes like soups, stir-fries and burritos.
  • Mix up a grain salad. Cold black rice makes a filling foundation for a satisfying salad. Add your favorite chopped crunchy vegetables, nuts, and fresh herbs, then toss in fresh or dried fruits for a touch of sweetness – some of our favorites are mangoes, apples, and dried cranberries.
  • Bring it to the breakfast table. Make a savory scramble by beating eggs and mixing in black rice and vegetables leftover from last night’s meal.