10 Years of Blog Archive

Thursday, December 29, 2011

White Rice and the Almuerzos (lunches) of Ecuador

No matter where you eat at throughout Ecuador, if you dine in an Ecuadorian style restaurant during Almuerzo time, they will serve you rice. Problem is it is white rice, which means all of the whole grain goodness has been stripped out of the rice, leaving a pearly white, nutritional-less rice.

White rice may not be as unhealthy for you as white flour products, such as white bread and pasta, but it still has no value, except to help fill you up. Unfortunately white rice is a staple here in Ecuador and it is part of the Ecuadorian fare and it is not going to go away any time soon. 

A lot of people in North America, even when they learn that white rice has no value to your health continue to eat it over the whole grain brown rice. And we’re sure the same holds true for people anywhere in the world where it is milled and polished. It's true, it is difficult to get used to eating brown rice if you've been eating white rice for so many years, but it could mean your health and that should be more important.

We have found one Almuerzo restaurant in Cuenca (so far) that serves half brown rice mixed in with the white rice. This restaurant is listed in our “10 Best Restaurants in Cuenca for under $3 Guide”.

The restaurant is called Good Affinity Vegetarian Restaurant.  And funny thing is this restaurant is owned by a Taiwanese family. Frank and I have thought about talking to some of the restaurants in Cuenca and asking them to please serve brown rice as well as white rice for those people who would prefer brown rice, but we’re not sure how to go about it without offending anyone.  Obviously with the influx of new gringos coming into town there is going to be other folks that also would prefer brown rice served, or at the very least half and half.

White Rice vs. Brown Rice

First of all, before we get into nutritional value, let’s just say, brown rice in our opinion, when cooked right, has much more flavor than white. White rice is quite bland. Brown rice has a kind of nutty, chewy, earthy goodness to it that compliments any meal. We’ve been eating brown rice for over 25 years! 

White rice, like white bread products contribute to many kinds of health afflictions, one being diabetes and at the very least, two being whacky blood sugar levels. Is it any wonder that Cuenca has a huge diabetes center? White rice, unlike the whole grain brown rice makes you constipated and that will make you feel and look very unhealthy overtime.

Whole Grains such as Brown Rice Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

We cannot stress enough how important it is to have a clean colon, and white rice only clogs you up and causes unnecessary health issues, besides weight gain.  Many people are unaware of the real differences between polished white rice and whole grain brown rice.

Brown Rice vs. White Rice

  • twice the manganese and phosphorus of white.
  • 2.5 times the iron.
  • 3 times the vitamin B3.
  • 4 times the vitamin B1.
  • 10 times the vitamin B6.
  • and no blood sugar spikes like white rice
  • gives you much more energy
  • makes you feel and look healthier
It is a great source of manganese, essential for energy production, antioxidant activity, and sex hormone production.

Essentially, high fiber foods help you go to the bathroom, rather than keep you constipated.  Whole grains such as brown rice helps to move other unhealthy substances that you may be eating in your diet, out of the colon, rather than letting it sit and ferment in your body making you feel sick and tired, literally.

So with all of that said, we still like to eat out for almuerzo once in awhile, but we have become pickier about where we eat and what we eat. After eating the white rice in the almuerzo’s for a few months you can tell the difference in how you feel. Govinda’s vegetarian restaurant makes some great lentil and soy burgers too.

Refined Flour Products Unhealthy

On another note there are also numerous Panaderia’s (bakeries) here in Cuenca that serve refined flour products from pastries to rolls and breads. When we first got here the wonderful smells of bread baking was hard to resist, and we’d give in and buy some dinner rolls or pastries, but after awhile you have to go back to your normal way of eating or become sick and unhealthy.

It’s not that we never have a pastry or a roll from these shops, but we do not do it often or even every day—we can tell the difference in how we feel. We have been milling our own grain from the wheat berries for over 25 years and we can’t let the Ecuadorian almuerzo and wonderful smells of bread baking stand in the way of our health! How about you? I still eat white rice occasionally when we eat out but Frank won't touch it.

We’re still searching to find more restaurants in Cuenca that serve brown rice in the almuerzo and we will keep our readers posted when and if we do find more.

BTW, there are some bakeries that will make you “Integral” whole wheat bread and rolls here in Cuenca. Coral Centro on Avenida las Americas is one such place, and the other one is called Superstock on Avenida las Americas. You may have to let them know ahead that you want whole wheat bread and they bake it fresh in the morning and the next day you can go and pick it up.


  1. I will be retiring to Cuenca in May and want to thank you for all the great important you provide. Question: I gave read about volunteering, who do I locate these organizations? Also I have read about group excercise in the park (Tai Chi), have you seen these? And how did you find you house (walking around, agent, newspaper, etc). Thanks for any reply.

  2. Thank you for your questions and comment.
    For volunteer in Cuenca:



    Haven't heard anything about the Tai Chi thing.

    The soon to be published DIY Cuenca Landing Guide will provide details on how to find a similar rental. Thank you for your support.

  3. Yes please keep on it about the brown rice. Each time I saw yours and other posts about these cheap lunches (which is great) I thought "but I'll have to throw the rice away".

    So, please ask them to serve it, when others read your blog maybe they will ask and it will have an effect.

  4. Thanks for commenting.
    We went back to El Paraiso (another vegetarian rest.)and asked if they have brown rice,which they said no,we made a sad face and walked out.
    We'll go back because we like the place, but you're correct, even if just a few people ask for it, it makes sense at least in vegetarian restaurants to have it.


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