Thursday, January 21, 2016


Have you ever heard of the company Lotus Foods or have cooked or tasted their rice before? This is no ordinary white rice out of a box that is starchy and grainy. No way!

My friends, Nancy and Barbra met one of the co-founders and co-owner Caryl Levine as she gave them a brief history on the start and foundation of Lotus Foods. She explained how her and husband (co-founder and co-owner) Ken Lee wanted to become entrepreneurs.

In 1993 they planned a market research trip through China. They had one idea but they came back with 90. Within two years they narrowed their search and went ahead launching Lotus Foods and produced their first product in 1995.

Their trip in 1993 brought them to a remote area of China where they met a villager who sat them down with a steaming bowl of black rice. To these people it was known as “longevity rice” or “tribute rice”. It was given to their Emperors to ensure good health and longevity. Caryl and Ken trademarked this rice as “Forbidden Rice”.

As Lotus Foods, Caryl and Ken’s first mission was to “keep biodiversity of rice alive while giving the poorest farmer the best possible price and fair trade value", said Caryl. These farmers never had an opportunity to be a part of the global market place and now they can be.

In 2005 Cornell University contacted both Caryl and Ken and introduced them to farmers who use the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). I asked Caryl to educate me in the simplest way about SRI versus the conventional ort. "In conventional farming the fields are flooded and the seeds are 30-40 days old. While in SRI farming the fields are kept moist like watering a garden and taking water on and off. The seeds in comparison are only about 8-10 days old. These younger seeds are very small and they are planted farther apart from each other. This allows the plant to produce more photosynthesis allowing stronger root growth. When roots grow stronger there is more organic matter in the soil allowing plenty of rice kernels to grow. Lotus Foods wants to support farmers who use the SRI and there is a chance we can change the world by the way we do business. How many companies can do that?”

Lotus Foods has many varieties of rice. One study showed their Forbidden Rice aides as a blood toner, improves circulation, invigorates the spleen, brightens the eyes, and the best part shows four tablespoons of rice equals one tablespoon of blueberries without the sugar.
Since 1998 their Forbidden Rice has been in the National Association Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) aka The Fancy Food Show. They have won awards in categories of Outstanding New Product and Outstanding Food Service Product to name just a few.

Forbidden Rice is just one of many products of which some can be purchased Organic. There's Carnaroli (a sort of Risotto), Jasmine, brown Jasmine, Jade Pearl (kind of like a sushi rice with a wildcrafted bamboo extract, Indonesian Volcano, Cambodian Mekong Flower and the one we had, Madagascar Pink and the one we had, Bhutanese Red.

Caryl prepared a Bhutanese Red Rice mixed with extra virgin olive oil, cranberries, orange zest, and onions that cooked for less than 30 minutes. What a surprisingly great taste! They actually visited the rice cooker for two more helpings.

They also felt relieved to know that their rice was prepared with an all stainless steel rice cooker another product Lotus Foods has designed. Forget about those rice cookers that have Teflon and are carcinogenic. Another great feature of their rice cooker is the steaming tray so while you are cooking your rice you can steam another dish. On the steamer tray you can prepare a secondary idea using shrimp, vegetables, fish, and even warm up tortillas.

I happened to be checking out a website, to find that they are selling ramen noodles made by Lotus Foods.  There are two types of packaging, a four portion pack of simply the ramen noodles and ramen noodles with either a powdered vegetable broth or miso soup, for a nutritious meal in itself.  The soup mixtures are much lower in sodium that those regular ramen soups and ramen noodles are gluten-free.

Place a cake in boiling water and it’s done in 4 minutes. Place in a bowl and stir in the soup mix.  If you want, add your favorite veggies, or protein for an even fuller meal. 

Buckwheat Mushroom Rice Ramen, traditional Japanese-style noodles made from organic buckwheat, mushrooms and whole grain brown rice instead of wheat! Earthy aroma and nutty taste.
In addition to being gluten free, Forbidden Rice is one of the most nutritious ancient grains. Their Forbidden Rice Ramen has a delicious nutty taste and is a natural source of antioxidants.
Jade Pearl Rice is infused with chlorophyll-rich, wild-crafted bamboo extract. Their Jade Pearl Rice Ramen has a delicious light vanilla taste and enhanced nutritional value.

Millet and Brown Rice are some of the most nutritious and easily digestible grains. Their Millet and Brown Rice Ramen has a delicious nutty taste and is a good source of fiber and protein.
Purple Potato & Brown Rice Ramen, traditional Japanese-style noodles made from organic purple sweet potatoes and brown rice instead of wheat!  They have paired antioxidant-rich purple potato with the whole grain nutrition of brown rice for a mildly sweet taste you’ll love. The ramen may be mildly sweet but the soup mix had a kick of cumin and pepper. 

Wakame and Brown Rice! They have also paired wakame seaweed, a great natural source of potassium and fiber with the whole grain nutrition of brown rice for a delicious rich taste with a hint of sea vegetable.

I love preparing a stir fry dinner while cooking up a cake of noodles.  I then drain the noodles and toss into the pan just as the meal is fully cooked.  I’m thinking of doing a weight loss substituting the ramen with soup mixture as two of my meals.  Each of these packets lists as two meals.  One large and tummy filling bowl is about 300 calories. They are certainly more nutritious and  cheaper than a Subway sandwich. 

I’m going to take a chance on making a quick rice pudding by first preparing the noodles. There are two methods, one of which will allow a the raw egg to cook and need just one pan.  The other requires baking….not sure which one I’ll try using: the egg, half and half (from Ronnybrook Farms, of course), sugar, cinnamon, and ground cardamom.  

Visit  for further information and the best way to purchase the products.

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