For centuries, white rice has been an important part of Japanese cuisine. It’s safe to say that whenever you see a Japanese meal, a dish of white rice often accompanies it. Or, the rice may be the meal itself, mixed with vegetables, protein or just dressed with sauce or spices. The only problem is that white rice isn’t very nutritious at all. As an alternative, you may opt for brown rice, which is somewhat healthier. However, many who choose white rice over brown rice still don’t care much for the taste or texture of brown rice. Additionally, brown rice can also take much longer to cook than white rice.
Enter Zakkokumai: Rice that has been mixed with healthy seeds and whole grains. A combination of two words: “Zakkoku,” which refers to mixed grains, and “mai,” which is rice, Zakkokumai is already quite popular in Japan. The dish is also steadily gaining ground in the United States as more people discover the healthier alternative to plain white rice – as well as something a bit more flavorful as well.
Where to Find Zakkokumai
You’ll have the best luck finding zakkoku (a mixture of grains and beans) in Asian groceries and supermarkets. It is sold in packets suitable for mixing with a few servings of white rice. There are different varieties, each with different types of seeds, grains, millets and beans. Although it is not commonplace in regular supermarkets yet, you might also find it in health food stores and groceries.
How to Make Zakkokumai
This simple dish is full of flavor and nutrients but is very easy to prepare. You simply select the packet of choice, mix the contents with the rice before cooking and then cook the rice as you normally would in a rice cooker or a pot.
Health Benefits of Zakkokumai
The health benefits of zakkokumai can vary as different grains, beans and seeds are contained in each packet or recipe. Some of the health benefits and nutrition you might receive by consuming zakkokumai are as follows:
- Whole grains provide a large amount of fiber, which helps to control blood sugar, lower bad cholesterol and decrease the risk of colon cancer.
- Improved digestion.
- Improved absorption of nutrients into the body.
- Strengthen the immune system.
- Decreased risk of heart disease.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Helps to control weight.
- You may gain an assortment of important vitamins and minerals, including calcium, Vitamin C and B vitamins.
- Essential minerals, including iron, zinc and magnesium.
- Reduces the risk of inflammatory conditions, such as asthma.
- Decreased risk of various types of cancer, including breast cancer and pancreatic cancer.
- May aid in longevity.
As you can see, there is a great deal more to gain from adding zakkokumai to a meal rather than plain white rice. This dish is just another example of why residents of Japan are some of the healthiest in the world.