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Celebrity of the Garden

This Week's Celebrity of the Garden: Wild Rice

This nutty-flavored grain boasts a unique nutritional profile, making it a worthy addition to any healthy diet.

1. Packed with Nutrients: Compared to white rice, wild rice is a treasure trove of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It's a good source of protein, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins.

2. Fiber Powerhouse: Wild rice shines with its high fiber content, aiding digestion and gut health. Adequate fiber keeps you feeling full for longer, helps regulate blood sugar levels, and promotes healthy cholesterol levels.

3. Heart-Healthy Choice: The lack of sodium and the presence of fiber make wild rice a heart-friendly option. Fiber helps remove harmful LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream, while the absence of sodium prevents blood pressure spikes. Moreover, wild rice provides alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which might improve insulin sensitivity and reduce diabetic nerve damage.

4. Boosts Energy Levels: The combination of protein, complex carbohydrates, and B vitamins in wild rice provides sustained energy. The slow-digesting fibers offer a steady release of glucose, preventing energy crashes and promoting mental clarity.

5. Immune System Support: Wild rice contains vitamins A, C, and E, all contributing to a robust immune system. These vitamins act as antioxidants, protecting cells from damage and supporting white blood cell production, your body's first line of defense against infections.

Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

  • 7 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 14 oz mushrooms*, sliced (approximately 6 cups sliced)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1  onion, diced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary, chopped
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup wild rice blend
  • 7 oz frozen chopped kale (or ~3 cups/1 bunch fresh deveined, chopped kale)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed pot or 3-5 quart Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of oil over medium-high heat. When shimmering, add the mushrooms and cook for 8-9 minutes, or until cooked and caramelized in spots. Add the balsamic vinegar, cooking for another few minutes or until the moisture has mostly evaporated and the mushrooms are glazed. Place the mushrooms on a plate for later.

Reduce the heat to medium, and add the remaining 5 tablespoons (75 mL) of oil. When shimmering, add the onions. Cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the thyme, rosemary and cooking for 30 seconds. Deglaze with the water cooking until most of the moisture is cooked off.

Add coconut milk and rice and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for as long as directed on the rice package – this will vary depending on the blend you're using.

At the end of cooking, add the kale. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the kale is bright and softened. Stir the mushrooms back into the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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