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Rethinking the Rice Cooker

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For perfectly cooked grains, many turn to a rice cooker. This appliance yields flawlessly cooked rice, quinoa, oats, farrow and other tricky grains without drama. Despite this, I'd spent the last few years cooking my grains in a little pot on the stove. Often, the liquid would bubble over and grains would turn out overcooked no matter how carefully I measured ingredients.

In a lapse of judgment after moving, I accepted my mom's old rice cooker. The expensive Japanese brand and impeccably cooked rice put my guard down. After months of perfect grains, it occurred to me to look into its non-stick coating. Turns out the cooking pot is coated with Teflon, which raised a red flag. Teflon is questionable for our health based on reports of its effects on birds when heated as well as what it likely does to our bodies and the environment. If you have time, the lengthy piece, "The Teflon Toxin", is a worthwhile read revealing the polluting effects of this industry.

After that realization, I immediately stopped using the rice cooker and began my search for a healthier option. I weighed purchasing a ceramic electric rice cooker but they're hard to find and expensive. More research yielded the Instant Pot as an option. The cooking device had been on my radar for over a year but the pressure cooker aspect intimidated me (having never used one). When I discovered the pot insert is made of inert stainless steel, I took a leap of faith and ordered one.

I've discovered that the Instant Pot cooks grains just like a rice cooker (simply wash, add water, press cook) and, best of all, it's a multi-tasker. Alton Brown would be proud. I'm in no way affiliated with Instant Pot but my weeks-long search for a safer rice cooker without a non-stick coating led me to the multi-cooker and if you're in the same boat, I highly recommend it.

How do you cook your grains? Do you use a rice cooker?

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