For most of the world’s population, a balanced diet is based on a significant amount of carbohydrates, the food group that provides energy for daily activity. Often called “go foods”, six to 11 portions of bread, cereals and other carbohydrate-rich food are recommended for most individuals. Grow (protein) and glow foods (fruits and vegetables) are the other elements of a balanced diet.
Pasta or the more general term “noodles” is a food staple made from different kinds of flours and starches and comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Though noodles are widely available in stores, making it from scratch using the best ingredients available like farm fresh eggs, extra virgin olive oil and durum semolina flour makes for an extra special dish.
Rice, on the other hand, is the most important staple in Asian countries though it is widely consumed in other parts of the world like in Spain’s famous paella and Italy’s risotto. Together with corn, these two rank the highest in worldwide agricultural production. Rice comes in a variety of colors from white and brown to red to black. The colour could either be from the seed itself or the degree of which the hull is removed or polished. Brown rice is healthier because it contains more fiber than polished white. Same logic goes for baked goods using wheat flour.
Wheat as well as rice both fall under the category of cereal grain together with corn, millet, sorghum, barley and oats which are made into countless products from flour, breakfast foods, snacks to animal feeds and non-food products.
An important tip when preparing both pasta and rice is to pay close attention to cooking time and doneness. This can vary depending on the water’s temperature, the ingredients’ starch content and even the weather. Noodles should be cooked to a firm texture but not hard. For rice dishes, the amount of water used is key as some varieties absorb more water than others. Read package instructions to ensure optimum results.
For the health conscious, organic is preferred though this is more difficult to come by, not to mention up to two or three times as expensive. However, organically grown produce is free from chemical fertilizers and pesticide residues that can be harmful in the long run if consumed regularly.
With trends in nutrition, protein-based diets such as South Beach and Atkins, have become very popular among Hollywood celebrities and are even endorsed by doctors. These involve the significant reduction of carbohydrate intake. It takes some getting used to as most traditional meals are enjoyed with a starchy component – like the bun of a hotdog or burger, the crust of a pizza, or the baked potato that comes with a steak.
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