Trendy Bits: Black Rice

Courtesy of

White or brown rice? White, please. White or wheat bread? White, of course. Ice cream or sorbet? Ice cream, always. I am definitely not a health nut. And I don’t even aspire to change my ways.  Still the recent number of black rice related articles had me wondering – So what’s the deal? Why is black rice being dubbed the “new super food?”

I’ve heard of black rice once or twice before on some episode of Top Chef or on the Food Network maybe. At the time, I probably just as casually dismissed it as I would the possibility of adding whole grain pasta to my repertoire. But now, I’ve seen black rice headlines twice this week and I decided there might be something to this trend.

More antioxidants than blueberries?

In a rare moment when I was reading up on Fashion and Beauty rather than Recipes and Food, I still managed to stumble across food related news. Glamour magazine’s “Vitamin G” Daily Health and Fitness blog recently featured a post on Black Rice. In summary, the article reveals that black rice is an ancient Chinese ingredient and now, Louisiana State University researchers have discovered that black rice is loaded with antioxidants.

In fact, black rice was a royal food eaten by the Emperor. In ancient China, it was considered sacred and reserved for exclusive consumption by royalty. Black rice is an heirloom plan that produces Indonesian Black Rice, called “forbidden rice” because it was forbidden to the regular population.  According to scientists, black rice is rich source of fiber and vitamin-E; and it’s nutritional value is bolstered by a rich iron content. The combination of health promoting antioxidants, fiber and vitamins now has these same scientists researching ways to incorporate them into our everyday foods – cereals, snack mixes etc.

While black rice is a common ingredient in Asia, its may be harder to track down in the U.S. Look for it at natural, Asian or other specialty markets (or try Amazon). Based on the recent notoriety and positive press, I’m betting it will crop up more and more.

Black rice turns deep purple when cooked (due to its high anthocyanin content). The health benefits associated with black rice stem from these anthocyanin antioxidants which are linked to lowering heart disease risks, cancer and other western diseases. Foods rich in anthocyanins, which include berries (cranberries, blueberries, strawberries), have demonstrated favorable cardiovascular risk profiles – i.e. they may lower risks of heart disease. For more on this research and black rice nutritional findings, check out this Food Consumer report.

I must admit these findings have me thinking twice before I dismiss this new health food trend.  For me, the first step will be trying black rice in its basic form. After that, maybe I’ll disguise it with two ingredients I already LOVE – sugar and coconut milk.  Black sticky rice – maybe a little mango? MMM…try this Black Rice Pudding recipe from epicurious. (recipe follows)

I’m adding these to my “To Try” list as well:

Courtesy of Bobby Flay: Crispy Whole Fish with Fire Roasted Chipotle Pepper Sauce with Black Rice
Courtesy of Emeril Lagasse: Black Sticky Rice Pudding with Strawberries and Mango Syrup

Simple Black Rice Pudding


  • 1 cup black rice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 (13 1/2- to 15-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk, stirred well


Bring rice, 3 cups water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered with a tight-fitting lid, 45 minutes (rice will be cooked but still wet). Stir in sugar, a scant 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 cups coconut milk and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick and rice is tender but still slightly chewy, about 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool to warm or room temperature, stirring occasionally, at least 30 minutes. Just before serving, stir pudding and divide among 8 bowls. Stir remaining coconut milk and drizzle over pudding.


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