FOOD: the Staples – Rice, Noodles or Rice Noodles?

THE ULTIMATE CULINARY CARBS!  Do you have a preference?tofu2tofu1

Most people like either or and they’re both important food staples in most countries (especially Asia & Africa) even for breakfast where they’re sautéed with vegetables.  Here in North America we’re having a noodle moment with noodle places like The Noodle Box opening up all over….so tasty and comforting and versatile.  Rice is also nice but seemingly more ordinary – as in you don’t see rice joints opening up all over town…but it’s equally diverse.  I personally love both depending on what they’re served with (obviously noodles with Pad Thai & Spaghetti and rice with Paella & anything Indian).  It would be hard to make a specific choice because we need both (I don’t care what the diet books say – I’m sticking to this rule because there are so many varieties of either and gluten-free noodles are available). *Rice in all forms (white, brown, basmati and enriched rice) are all gluten-free.

There was recently in Vancouver a Taiwanese street festival where chefs battled out their unique rice or noodle recipes.  I was there but didn’t sample either. Instead I’m giving you two simple and satisfying one-pot dishes for both which you can improvise to your liking (after you read the recipe).  Enjoy!


Warm up a chilly evening with this light but satisfying one-pot meal. The tofu absorbs the flavors of this fragrant, spicy broth, making it anything but bland. Look for fresh Chinese-style noodles in the refrigerated case of your supermarket alongside wonton wrappers.

Makes: 6 servings, 1 1/2 cups each


  • 14 ounces firm tofu, preferably water-packed
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chile-garlic sauce, or to taste
  • 4 cups thinly sliced tender bok choy greens
  • 8 ounces fresh Chinese-style (lo mein) noodles
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Drain and rinse tofu; pat dry. Cut the block into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook until slightly soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in sugar, broth, soy sauce and chile-garlic sauce; cover and bring to a boil. Add bok choy and tofu, cover and simmer until greens are wilted, about 2 minutes. Raise heat to high and add the noodles, pushing them down into the broth. Cook, covered, until the noodles are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in cilantro.                                                                                                                       TIPS: Chile-garlic sauce is a spicy blend of chiles, garlic and other seasonings; it is found in the Asian section of the market.

Per serving: 251 calories; 7 g fat (1 g sat, 1 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrates; 13 g protein; 7 g fiber; 636 mg sodium; 191 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (45% daily value), Vitamin C (40% dv), Fiber (27% dv), Iron (20% dv).

 READER’S COMMENT: “Awesome!! we used Udon noodles in place of Lo Mein, but otherwise same recipe. The broth with garlic and ginger is fabulous! “


Take a handful of simple store cupboard ingredients and turn them into this hearty comforting dinner.


  • 200g basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary or 1 tsp dried
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes (can use fresh)
  • 425ml vegetable stock
  • handful parsley, chopped


Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Tip the rice into a sieve, rinse under cold running water, then leave to drain. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole, add the onion, then fry until softened, about 5 mins. Stir in the rosemary and mushrooms, then fry briefly. Add the rice, stir to coat in the oil, then add the peppers, tomatoes, stock and some freshly ground pepper. Bring to the boil, give it a stir, cover tightly with a lid, then bake for 20-25 mins until the rice is tender. Scatter over the parsley and serve.

TIPS: you can modify this recipe a little bit by
– using fresh tomatoes and tomato puré
– using chicken stock
– adding chicken and green chillies in recipe

*More about RICE:

Plain rice — regardless of whether it’s whole-grain brown rice, polished white rice, long-grained basmati rice or even exotic black rice — is always considered gluten-free.

So is the form of rice called glutinous rice, also known as sticky rice or sweet rice. Despite the name, it doesn’t contain the form of gluten that’s dangerous to those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance; the term “glutinous” simply refers to the fact that glutinous rice gets glue-like, or sticky, when cooked.

Source: Rice Recipe from Good Food magazine.                                                                Tofu Noodle Recipe from EatingWell: The EatingWell Diabetes Cookbook (this recipe is not just for diabetics – it just happens to come from the cookbook). xo

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