Low fat no longer means low fun or low taste, especially when cooking with wild rice. Put a clever spin on everyday food and discover for yourself the versatility, affordability and most importantly, the healthy benefits of this affordable gourmet grain from Minnesota wild rice.

Nutritionally speaking, wild rice is hard to beat. It contains no sodium, sugar, saturated fat or cholesterol and is a better source of protein, zinc, and phosphorus than either white or brown rice. It is a high protein, natural food with no preservatives and no additives. Wild rice is also a great source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, calcium and iron . . . all part of a healthy, well balanced diet.

Not only is wild rice the obvious healthy alternative for your diet, but it also fits the bill when it comes to ease of preparation. In today's fast-paced lifestyle, convenience is a must. By cooking and freezing wild rice ahead of time (cooked wild rice will keep up to six months in your freezer) you're never more than minutes away from your favorite wild rice dishes.

With an enticing blend of smoky, nutty flavors, wild rice has long been a favorite of innovative chefs who know that it is more than just a unique side dish and are tossing it into salads, soups, pancakes, muffins, stir-fry and even desserts. You, too, can use wild rice to create meals which fit a variety of occasions and elevate the simplest of entrees from everyday predictability to a meal to be remembered.

Often referred to as the "Caviar of Grains," wild rice evokes a gourmet image. It's affordability and versatility, however, belie this distinction. At $5.00 per pound, wild rice costs only 23¢ per serving - a real buy for such a natural, nutritious food item!.

Wild rice also carries with it a history steeped in tradition. Wild rice has grown naturally in the lakes and streams of northern Minnesota for hundreds of years and as an agricultural crop for the last thirty years. It's the seed of Zizania palustris, a tall, blooming water grass that prospers in the pristine lakebed shallows and lush vegetation of the Great Lakes region. It is the only cereal grain native to North America. For hundreds of years, wild rice was an important staple food of Native American tribes. It was called "manoomin" - precious grain. The traditional harvest occurred in September, the time of the Wild Rice Moon, when Native Americans would gather the wild rice from lakes and rivers by beating it into their canoes with sticks. Celebrating the harvest of this grain each fall continues to be a ritual practiced by many Ojibwe, whose method of harvesting the rice by hand has remained unchanged over the years. Today most wild rice is cultivated, yet it remains a natural product. The cultivated grain is the same as that which has been harvested in the wild for hundreds of years. Wild rice remains "manoomin" for us today - a culinary gem!.

* Wild Rice is healthful. Mother Nature has blessed this unique grain with amazing nutritional qualities. Containing more than 12% protein, wild rice is a dietary bargain with only 114 calories per 1/2 cup serving. Wild rice not only tastes good but is a good-for-you food. It has long been a grain of choice in vegetarian diets and fits perfectly with a heart healthy diet. It is a source of fiber, protein, potassium, and carbohydrates. It's a natural food with no fat, no sodium, no preservatives and no additives!.

* Wild Rice is easy to prepare. Simply add 1 cup uncooked Minnesota wild rice to 3-4 cups boiling water. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until grains just start to open. Drain any excess liquid. Store in refrigerator for up to five days or freeze for up to six months! For added convenience, use new instantized wild rice products.

* Wild Rice is versatile. You'll find the toasty, nutty flavor of Minnesota wild rice a real palate pleaser, complementing a variety of foods from sweet to savory. Wild rice adds its distinctive and robust appeal to soups, salads, stuffings and side dishes. Simple to prepare, wild rice recipes fit today's trend of no-nonsense healthy eating while offering taste appeal and nutritional value.

* Wild Rice - the perfect blend. Purchase one of the blended rice and grain products available at your grocer today. The ease of these wild rice blends makes meal preparation a snap. If you prefer, you can create your own blends by simply mixing cooked wild rice with your favorite rice and grains, such as long grain white rice, brown rice or basmati. Enhance your menu, add fiber to your diet and enjoy an entirely palate pleasing experience with wild rice blended your way!.

Discover for yourself the benefits of this natural grain - wild rice. Perk up your everyday menu by creating a brilliant meal with little effort. You can capture the romance of this rustic food item by including it in soups, salads and side dishes. Minnesota wild rice is now more affordable and readily available, both in pure product and packaged wild rice blends. If unavailable, request your grocer to stock these items.

Dress up a plain chicken breast with a coat of dried cherry sauce accompanied by the always delicious sidedish of wild rice with mushrooms. This recipe highlights the dried tart cherries in a rich sauce of port and cranberry juice and takes the ever popular chicken breast to new heights. The nutty, smoky flavor of wild rice, prepared in a traditional recipe, acts as the perfect complement.

Chicken Breast with Michigan Dried Cherry Sauce.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour .

1/4 teaspoon salt.

4 (4 oz.) skinned, boned chicken breast halves.

vegetable cooking spray.

1 tablespoon margarine.

1/2 cup cranberry juice cocktail.

1/2 cup ruby port or other sweet red wine.

3 tablespoons brown sugar .

1/2 teaspoon dried whole tarragon.

1/4 cup dried tart cherries.

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar .

1 tablespoon cornstarch.

2 tablespoons water.

Place flour and salt in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken; seal bag, and shake to coat chicken with flour. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Add margarine, and place over medium heat until margarine melts. Add chicken, and cook 7 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from skillet; set aside, and keep warm. Add cranberry juice, wine, brown sugar, tarragon, dried cherries, and vinegar to skillet. Bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water; stir well, and add to cranberry juice mixture. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Serve sauce with chicken. Makes 4 servings.

Traditional Wild Rice.

3/4 cup onion, chopped .

3/4 cup celery, chopped .

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms.

2 tablespoons butter.

1/4 cup sherry .

1/2 teaspoon salt .

1/8 teaspoon pepper .

6 cups cooked wild rice.

In skillet, sauté vegetables in butter; add sherry, salt, pepper and wild rice. Cook until liquid is evaporated and wild rice is heated through. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Start making healthy choices, cook with wild rice! The Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council offers you additional recipes and information by simply sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:

Wild Rice - The Healthy Grain of Choice.

4630 Churchill St. , #1.

St. Paul, MN 55126.

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