Rice: An Ideal Food for Children
Rice is a very common food in children’s diets because it’s accessible and usually well accepted by little ones. However, it doesn’t often get the recognition it deserves, as it’s actually a very nutritious food and an interesting component in children’s diets. In fact, it’s an ideal food for children.
If you want to know more about the role it plays in your diet, what its benefits are, and get some practical ideas, we invite you to continue reading the article.
Rice: An ideal food for children
Rice (Oryza sativa) is a grain that’s been cultivated for more than 8,000 years. Its use is widespread in many countries of the world, and in some regions, it’s part of the basic daily diet. Many varieties of both round and long-grain rice can be found on the market.
When children start to try new foods from the age of 6 months, it’s common to introduce cereals through rice. And, later on, it’s a good option to offer it as a source of carbohydrates, as it’s also digestive and has a mild flavor.
Likewise, its nutritional quality shouldn’t be underestimated. On the one hand, rice has large amounts of starch: The most important source of calories that we humans consume. It provides energy to little ones to meet their important demands.
Rice is also an ideal food for children because it’s also a source of other outstanding nutrients necessary for the correct development and growth in childhood. Namely:
- Dietary fiber. Thanks to its presence, rice is a perfect food for the digestive system: It promotes intestinal transit, helps modulate glucose absorption, and promotes satiety. In addition, in the long term, its intake is related to a lower risk of suffering from certain diseases.
- B vitamins, especially thiamine (B1) and pyridoxine (B6). These are necessary in order to process glucose and keep the brain and heart in perfect condition. In whole grains, you can also find a small contribution of vitamin E.
- Minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, or selenium. In smaller amounts, it also contains zinc and iron.
- Resistant starch: Recent studies have shown that resistant starch is beneficial for the microbiota, acting as a prebiotic.
It should be noted that whenever possible, it’s preferable to choose brown rice, and this is also true in the diet of children. This variety hasn’t been refined but rather keeps all its parts intact (germ and bran) and, therefore, contains all the nutrients mentioned and in greater quantity.
Discover more: What Are the Benefits of Grains in a Child’s Diet?
More notable qualities
Leaving aside its nutritional interest, it should be noted that this cereal provides other positive points that make it a great ally and an ideal food for children.
On the one hand, it gives them the necessary energy at this time of their lives. If they’re whole grains or are accompanied by foods with fiber, this energy is received gradually and guarantees that they can face all their daily activities without feeling tired.
In case of suffering from gastrointestinal problems, it’s a very helpful ingredient. Thanks to its fiber, it regulates intestinal transit, but in case of diarrhea, boiled white rice can be offered, which has a slight astringent effect and is easily digested, allowing the digestive system to rest.
Because it’s usually easily accepted by children, it can be used to accompany some foods that they don’t like as much, such as vegetables or certain fish. Even some fruits like mango, avocado, or apple can be added to a rice salad.
Finally, it’s important to note that white and brown rice aren’t among the foods that most often cause allergies. Likewise, it can be safely introduced into the diet of children with celiac disease, as it’s a cereal that doesn’t contain gluten. Of course, in this case, you should only purchase rice that’s packaged and labeled as gluten-free so you can be sure it’s free of cross-contamination.
One of the most worrying points is the possible presence of arsenic, a heavy metal that can be found naturally in the environment. However, this shouldn’t be a reason to restrict this ingredient in the children’s diet, if certain precautions are taken:
- Let the rice soak for a few hours and discard the water before cooking.
- Boil in a good amount of water and strain it.
- Don’t abuse this grain but do consume rice as part of a varied diet with other sources of carbohydrates: Oatmeal, quinoa, whole-wheat bread or pasta, tubers, etc.
- Don’t give small children rice-based preparations as vegetable drinks or pancakes.
How to cook rice
There are several ways to prepare rice and, in part, it depends on the use that’s going to be given to it and the texture you prefer. One of the options is to boil it in abundant water for the necessary time and then strain it. This way, a loose grain is obtained. It can then be eaten alone or combined with other ingredients.
On the other hand, if it’s cooked with just the right amount of water, the end result is a more compact grain. By frying the grain in a little oil (before cooking), its flavor is enhanced.
At the beginning of complementary feeding, it’s common to prepare porridge with rice and vegetables or rice and chicken. It can also be offered as a soup with the grains well cooked or boiled with a little olive oil.
As children grow, the possibilities expand and they can eat it in the same way as the whole family. Being such a versatile ingredient, there are many possibilities.
- In salads: with tomatoes, peppers, green beans, carrot, tuna, hard-boiled egg, etc.
- Sauteed with vegetables, mushrooms, chicken, or tofu.
- With tomato sauce or other sauces (vinaigrette, garlic, and parsley) it can be a perfect side dish for meat or fish.
- Rice soup, either with broth or minestrone type.
- Some more classic recipes with rice such as paella, risotto, or baked rice. These can even be a single dish served with fruit or a salad.
- It can also be used to prepare hamburgers, croquettes, meatless meatballs, and all kinds of fillings.
Two surprising recipes with this ingredient
So that you can make use of all the nutritional benefits of this ideal food for children, here are some recipes that have this important grain as the main ingredient.
Rice and egg balls
Both rice and eggs are popular in childhood, although of course, there are always some children who hate them. If your child is one of those who likes to eat these two foods, don’t hesitate to offer them this nutritious and fun recipe.
- Creamy rice
- Boiled egg yolk
- To make the rice and egg balls, you must cook the rice with a little more water than usual so that it’s a bit creamy, but without exaggerating.
- Boil the egg for 5 minutes or so. Peel it and separate the white from the yolk.
- Next, chop the egg yolk into four parts.
- Then, grease your hands with some vegetable oil (the one you use regularly), take a good portion of rice, and make a ball with it. Open a hole in the rice ball and insert the egg; seal the hole and continue shaping until you have a nice and appetizing ball.
At dinner time, serve these balls to your child. You’ll see that they’ll love them.
Rice ice cream
Rice ice cream is unusual; however, it can be as appetizing as others and very nutritious, yes. Copy the ingredients and the method of preparation so that you have a delicious dessert to give to your little one.
- 1 cup of very creamy rice
- 3 cups of mango pulp (in this case, we chose the mango, but it can be any fruit or flavor).
- 1 cup of milk.
- Cook the rice with plenty of water so that it’s creamy and the grains almost disintegrate.
- Peel and cut some ripe mangoes and beat the portions in the blender with very little water to make the pulp. Then strain it.
- Next, put the mango pulp, the rice, and the milk in the blender and mix for several minutes. We emphasize again that it’s essential that the rice is very soft so that the ice cream doesn’t have lumps left.
- When the shake is ready, strain it and put it in the freezer for 15 or 20 minutes. After that time, remove the frozen ice cream and stir it, mixing the frozen part with the part that’s still half liquid. Then, put it back in the freezer until it solidifies.
Rice is an ideal food for children
As we’ve highlighted throughout the article, there are many reasons to introduce this ingredient to your children’s diet. But remember that in order to enjoy all its benefits, it must be offered as part of a healthy and varied diet.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Federación Española de Nutrición. Arroz.
- Food ans Drug Administration. Arsénico en el arroz y el cereal de arroz: lo que usted debe saber. Mayo 2016.
- Food and Drug Administration. Food Allergies. Marzo 2022.
- Harvard T.H.Chan. Fiber. Harvard School of Public Health.
- Zaman, S. A., & Sarbini, S. R. (2016). The potential of resistant starch as a prebiotic. Critical reviews in biotechnology, 36(3), 578–584.