We are a little late to celebrate wild rice during Whole Grain Month in September, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a party!  In fact, wild rice is not a grain at all.  The semi-aquatic grass is native to North America and originated in the Great Lakes Region near the Canadian border where cold mud and water present the perfect environment for it to thrive.

Wild rice has a wide range of health benefits – it’s lower in starch and higher in protein than most grains and it’s an excellent source of fiber, folate, zinc, and magnesium.  Researchers at the University of Minnesota determined that wild rice has extremely high levels of antioxidants with another 2009 study finding it to have 30x higher antioxidant activity than white rice.

Wild rice is super simple to cook just be sure to start with pure wild rice, and not a wild rice blend.  Rinse it well and cook with a 1:4 ratio of wild rice to water.  Bring wild rice and water to a boil then cover and simmer for about 30-40 minutes.  You will know it is done when when the kernels burst open.  Due to it’s low starch content, wild rice stores extremely well – up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Add it to a salads and stir fries or add to quinoa to make a more interesting side dish.

Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy wild rice:

Salads:  Toss with a variety of roasted vegetables and fruits then add nuts, seeds, and a tangy vinaigrette.

Breakfast:  Add wild rice to your oatmeal or quinoa and stir in almond milk, some vanilla, spices like cardamom and cinnamon, and pistachios for an exotic treat!

Side dish: With Thanksgiving right around the corner it would be hard to ignore the obvious – prepare wild rice using stock instead of water, drain and add toasted pecans, roasted sweet potato cubes, and some dried tart cherries.  You could also add prepared wild rice to your stuffing to lighten it up.

Dessert: Prepare wild rice in coconut milk with a cinnamon stick, some cardamom pods, nutmeg, and pinch of salt.  Once cooked, sweeten with a bit of maple syrup. It won’t be quite as thick as conventional rice pudding [thanks to its low-starch content], but it will be equally delicious!