For those tight on time, instant rice can help make packing lunches easier. Those skeptical about its nutritious quality: there are ways to make this on the go meal more nutritious.

Chef John Higgins, Director of Toronto-based George Brown Chef School – Canada’s leading chef school and one of the top culinary schools in North America who is also a judge on Food Network’s Chopped Canada and former personal chef for the Queen Mother, gives the following quick recommendations:


10 Rice Cooking Tips from Chef John Higgins:

Boil in broth: When boiling rice, substitute water for broth to add flavour to the rice itself and your dish. Chicken broth, beef broth or vegetable stock are excellent choices. Low-sodium broths add a punch of flavour without the added salt.

Try coconut: Cook rice in coconut milk for a mildly sweet flavoured rice which pairs well with curry dishes and other spicy recipes. Coconut flavoured rice with fresh slices of mango or your kids’ favourite fruit can make a fun, healthy dessert option.

Think flavour: Add spices to the rice’s cooking liquid for an aromatic and flavourful base to your dish. Star Anise, cilantro and turmeric are good choices, with bold, robust flavours.

Season early on: Don’t leave your seasoning until the end. Introduce the flavours of your dish early on. For maximum flavour, add the herbs or spices your recipe calls for into the rice’s cooking water.

Add veggies: Enhance your rice dish by adding frozen vegetables. Rather than cooking the vegetables separately, though, condense your cooking time by adding them to boiling water before you begin cooking the rice. Using pre-cut, frozen vegetables is more convenient than cutting fresh vegetables (while still being nutritious), especially when you are pressed for time.

Sweeten with fruit: Add dried fruit – such as craisins, raisins, dried blueberries and currents – to your cooking water to draw out the sweet fruit flavours which will infuse your rice with a savoury taste the whole family will enjoy.

Try rice for breakfast: Instant rice in particular is quick and easy, making it a convenient and nutritious family option. Add almond or soy milk, or your kids’ favourite flavoured milk, as well as dried fruits or nuts for a complete, oatmeal-like breakfast dish which can be served hot or cold. Prepare the rice the night before to save time in the morning.

Steep your rice: Infuse the rice with your favourite flavour of tea for a fragrant, subtle gourmet taste. Steep a pot of tea and use the liquid to cook your rice instead of using plain water. For those less adventurous, start with a more simple flavour such as Earl Grey, English Breakfast or Chamomile tea. For an economical option, use the tea bag left over from your morning cup of tea.

Add zing with zest: For a zesty citrus spin on your rice dish, grate lemon, lime or orange zest into the rice’s cooking water as it’s boiling. Be sure to thoroughly wash your fruit with warm, soapy water before grating the zest into the water. For a more gourmet taste sensation, try a combination of citrus fruits in one rice dish.

Cut cooking time: Risotto is a wonderful meal or side dish option enjoyed by all ages, but it takes time to make. Using instant rice in a risotto dish can cut in half the time it takes to make traditional risotto.

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More information and recipes can be found at .

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