By Jude Teal

Arroz con Chiles Verde

Servings: 4

Preparation time: 1 hour

1 cup water

1/2 cup converted rice

1 cup fat-free sour cream

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

2 medium green onions, diced

4 ounces diced green chiles (from a can)

1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded

Bring water to boil in 1-quart saucepan. Stir in rice; cover, reduce to simmer and cook 20 to 25 minutes until rice is tender and water absorbed. Stir cumin, garlic powder and green onion into sour cream. Combine with rice and remaining ingredients in a 1 quart casserole which has been

sprayed with pan spray. Bake in preheated 350 oven for 25 minutes (convection 325 for 20 minutes) or microwave 10 minutes.

Per serving: 185 calories; 2g fat; 28g carbohydrates; 257mg sodium

Empress Rice

Servings: 6

Preparation time: 35 minutes

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 cup long-grain white rice

2 cups boiling water

4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup green onion, diced

1/3 cup bacon bits, crumbled

1/2 cup dry-roasted cashews or toasted almonds, walnuts or peanuts

In a 1 1/2- or 2-quart saucepan, over medium heat, saute garlic in oil. Stir in rice, coating with oil. Reduce heat to low. Add boiling water and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Cover and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Can be made ahead to this point. If made

ahead, reheat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, green onion, bacon bits and cashews, and stir to distribute evenly. Serve with your favorite Asian meat dish.

*Use precooked packaged bacon bits or approximately 4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled.

Per serving: 347 calories; 14g fat ;47g carbohydrates; 831mg sodium

Risotto Florentine

Servings: 4

Preparation time: 30 minutes

2 teaspoons sodium-free chicken bouillon granules plus 2 cups water

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 cup converted rice

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons Neufchatel cheese

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Put chicken granules, garlic and water together in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in rice; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes. While it simmers, squeeze as much water out of the thawed spinach as possible. Add with the mustard to the rice and return to simmer. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir in Neufchatel cheese and parmesan. Serve at once.

Per serving: 225 calories; 2g fat; 42g carbohydrates; 239mg sodium

With the world filled with so many people, cultures and traditions, it may seem difficult, if at all possible, to come up with something most of us have in common food-wise. But, there is one food item that almost 50 percent of the world enjoys on a regular basis, and that is rice.

Think of it — rice shows up in the classic foods of China and Japan and In Indian curry dishes, Spanish paella, Italian risotto, Mexican arroz, and the list goes on and on.

White rice, the most common in our country, starts as brown rice from which the husk, bran and germ are removed. This is to make the rice more attractive and extend the shelf life. Vitamin B, which is depleted by the process, is added by law, so the rice is still healthy.

Rice can also be a homemade “convenience” food. Cook up a double amount of rice according to the package instructions and freeze half. When in a hurry for a dinner, thaw the rice and reheat in the microwave. Top with chili beans and shredded cheddar cheese. Old What’s His Name loves this, because there are fewer dishes for him to wash.