Fermented Brown Rice

Cooked germinated brown rice

A bowl of cooked germinated brown rice

I’ve written before about germinated brown rice (GBR) and the health benefits.  I have also posted the recipe.  Lately, I’ve been exploring the “cure tooth decay” diet that I mentioned in my tooth decay post.  Fermented brown rice is a component of this diet that is designed to prevent and reverse tooth decay.  It is not too far off from GBR and I gave it a go this morning.

One of the most fundamental aspects of the diet is getting enough fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamin D, and adequate minerals, like calcium and magnesium.  In addition to focusing on foods that supply these, one must ensure proper absorption.

Ramiel Nagel, the author of: Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition. claims that the phytic acid (inositol hexakisphosphate or IP6) in foods is the greatest threat to teeth because it blocks absorption of minerals.  This compound is a major storage form of phosphate in plants, but the compound is not digestible by humans, making the phosphorus (an important nutrient) not available.  In addition, this compound binds minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.

Ramiel would have us avoid all grains, nuts, seeds, and beans, but he does offer some suggestions on how to eat these items and maintain good teeth. The idea is to prepare them using traditional fermentation methods.  Fermentation appears to effectively reduce or remove the phytic acid.  The phytate in brown rice is a little more persistent than others, but it can be done.

The basic recipe he gives involves soaking rice in water for 24 hours then saving 10% of the water in the fridge as a starter for the next batch and cooking the rice as usual.  The next batch of rice is soaked in a similar manner with the starter added.  He says after four cycles the starter is potent enough to remove 96% of the phytic acid.

Now, this doesn’t seem too different from the GBR recipe.  The big difference is that with the GBR I recommended frequent rinsing to avoid bacterial growth and here the idea is to get bacteria to grow.

Actually, after numerous batches of GBR, I was beginning to wonder if the rice was really germinating, since longer germination times never led to an actual “sprout” appearing.  Indeed, over the summer I planted a tub of brown rice in order to grow my own and was disappointed that they never sprouted.  So perhaps I have been really “fermenting” the brown rice anyway.

For my attempt at fermentation I used a starter I had prepared last week with a small batch of rice.  I added the starter to 4 cups of rice and used more water than I usually do for GBR – about 10-12 cups water this time.  I also added about 2 tablespoons of whole rye.  Rice doesn’t naturally contain an enzyme for breaking down phytate, but rye does.  I figured it couldn’t hurt to spike the mixture.  I let this sit for 24 hours at room temperature (about 70 degrees right now) then rinsed.  I then added fresh water and use a heating pad to keep the rice warm for another 24 hours.  I think it was at about 80 degrees for the finishing fermentation.

The interesting thing about the process is that while the water did develop a film on top, it didn’t seem as funky as when I rinse every eight hours for making GBR.  Is this a difference entirely from intention?  It may be.  Or it could be a difference arising from the additional water I used.  With GBR I use just enough liquid to cover.  In addition, with the GBR I use a covered glass bowl, but to encourage fermentation I left the bowl open to allow inoculation with wild bacteria and yeast.  I was surprised with the result after 24 hours.  I expected it to be more putrid.  That is why I decide to up the temperature.  Still fine at 48 hours.  The rice actually smelt more yeasty, like a nice sourdough starter and not some rotting pot of rice when I was done.

I cooked the rice just like GBR:  I rinsed the fermented rice thoroughly.  For the 4 cups of rice I started with I added four cups of water to cook.  Rice turned out great.  Not a chewy as the GBR which is what the fermented recipe said I should expect.  It was just like if it had not been fermented. I like it.  It is simple and ensures I am getting optimal nutrition.  Ramiel says to choose white rice if you are not able to do this preparation.  The processing of white rice removes the germ and bran and that removes most of the phytic acid.  Bon appetit!


Before Dawn

A few times this week I’ve woken up around 4:15 am.  Intellectually this would be a good time to get up – no harsh sun and temperatures in the low 80’s.  Yet, I invariably fall back to sleep for another hour or so.  Today I decided to just try getting up and staying up.

I went into the kitchen and put my breakfast on.  This morning it would be cauliflower chicken curry and my usual cup of germinated brown rice.   I put the two into a small cast iron pan and turned the electric stove on low.  Breakfast would be warm in about 20 minutes and would not burned even if I became preoccupied and did not return for an hour or more.  When it was time to eat, I’d add some oil (flax or coconut to the rice) a dash of Spike (seasoned salt mix) and two raw large carrots.  I used to microwave my food, but this slow heating alternative pleases me.

My mind noted that this morning it felt like winter.  I was surprised by the thought and realized that it had been winter the last time I was up before dawn.  I am up before the sunrise almost everyday, but to be up while it was still dark and the stars were still shining was rare this summer.  Interesting that my body and energy associated this “being up while it was still dark” with “winter”.

I proceeded outside to do my morning practice of chi gung and tai chi.  My objective is to be 100% present and in the moment when I practice.  Although I have a body memory of the movements, and can go through the form on automatic pilot, I focus on my body and how the energy feels moving.

I noticed how wonderful the morning was.  It was getting lighter, but even the birds were still and quiet until about 15 minutes into my routine.  I was outside and it was early morning in the desert.  Absolutely spectacular!

I remembered my first trip to the desert when I was a teenager.  I took a course called the Natural History of Anza Borrego.   On the trip, I decided to sleep out away from the group at a location that was sure to get the first rays of sunrise.  The memory of the trip and the dawn’s first light brought me pleasure.

I continued to think about how I’d like to wake up like this every day and the best way to do that was to sleep outside.  When I sleep outside I am more in rhythm with the planet and my subconscious notices the changes in the environment leading up to dawn and awakens me.

I began planning where I’d sleep, how I’d hang my mosquito netting, what type of bedding I’d use, and alternates to all these ideas.  I was wondering how long before the nights became too hot to sleep outside comfortably.  I thought some about my plan, then have a memory of the past, connect the two and then focus on the smooth even flow of my tai chi movements.

Eventually I noticed that much of my thoughts were not in the moment doing tai chi.  I was in the past, remembering.  I was in the future, planning.  I was also a very good multi-tasker because my mind would flip back into being with the birds or the movements of my body, the now, before it would be swept away by another idea.  Indeed, it is possible for me to have part of my mind in the present moment and part of my mind planning or remembering.

It is really cool how the mind works.  I traced back the mindstream until I found the point of major deviation.  I found that the pleasure of being in the desert before the dawn triggered my mind to try to capture it and keep it.  Instead of fully enjoying the moment, I was figuring out how to have that moment every day.  Logically, if I liked what was going on, I would focus more on the moment.  Yet, I have the illogical mental habit of planning. Perhaps, I enjoy planning more than I enjoy the experience of spontaneous life.

I have been noticing recently how I think certain thoughts repetitively.  For instance, after several years of living on savings, I finally have work that pays my bills.  I tend to think about this with appreciation over and over.  It is like I’m using the thought to create a certain feeling.  I suppose I have a very subtle financial insecurity that this thought alleviates.  When I observe the thought and my body’s reaction very closely, I can almost feel a surge of some “pleasure” chemical being released.  Even if I don’t have financial insecurity, I am “using” the thought to produce pleasure in my body.  Does this mean I’m addicted to the thought and the chemical it produces?

The practice of introspective and extrospective awareness, sometimes referred to as mindfulness, allows me to know what I am doing,why I am doing it and the consequences of my actions.  This awareness can then inform my actions.  I am finding, through this practice, that I have many habitual mental habits that don’t appear to be useful.  It appears that my mind is awakening, but that it is still before dawn.