The Super Soaker

By Wendy McMillan

Soaking brown rice overnight before cooking releases a compound called ASG (acylated steryl glucoside) that may help diabetics ward off disease-related nerve and vascular damage. New research in the Journal of Lipid Research shows that ASG helps normalize blood sugar by increasing levels of good enzymes that diabetes destroys. Plus, presoaking the rice can reduce cooking time by up to a quarter and release additional vitamins and minerals. Spice up your next batch of brown rice with these three recipes:

Fruity breakfast pudding. In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup presoaked, cooked brown rice, 1 cup evaporated skim milk or light coconut milk, 1/4 cup low-glycemic agave nectar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup mixed fruit of choice (raisins, dried cranberries, apples, apricots). Cook, stirring until heated through and thickened. For creamier pudding, cook rice in equal parts water and milk, either beforehand or alongside other ingredients.

Simple salad. Combine 1 cup presoaked, cooked brown rice, 1/2 cup peeled, chopped cucumber, 2/4 cup finely diced red onion, 1/2 cup diced red pepper, 1/2 cup grated carrot, and 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes. Mix in blend of 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2/4 cup olive oil, and a dash of red pepper. Chill and serve.

Broccoli and mushroom casserole. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine 1 1/2 cups presoaked, cooked brown rice, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, 2 cups chopped broccoli, 1 cup light sour cream, 3/4 cup reduced-fat cheddar or parmesan cheese, and 1/2 cup evaporated skim milk. Bake in a 2-quart casserole for 30 to 40 minutes.