This is an email I received from a reader of The Asian Diet, and my response.
Dear Mr. Bussell,
I was re-reading a section of your book today on Grains. I agree with you about the common misconception that white rice is a simple carb, because it's classified by many Americans with white bread, when in fact it's just a stripped down version of brown rice, a complex carbohydrate.
My question to you is what other forms of complex carbs do you eat? You stated that it's easier for digestion if the food isn't processed which means that most noodles or pastas fall into that category. I know balance and moderation is key but I eat plenty of cooked noodles with vegetables in soups or alone and I don't think it's necessarily bad either. What do you think?
Also, I was reading an article about cold foods (http://www.hypnopuncture.co.uk/cold_food_blog.htm) and how they slow down weight loss. Do you agree with this article? I believe you stated that foods are best cooked and ate warm.
This article has it right. Too much cold (temperature), cooling (energetic nature), and raw (never been cooked) foods will steal your energy to cook the food; and will slow your metabolism. Balance and moderation are the keys, so you can and should have some foods cold or raw, but you want the majority to be cooked and warm.
Complex carbs are found in vegetables. The following list of foods are all good sources of good, complex carbohydrates: Spinach, Whole Barley, Grapefruit, Greens (turnip, radish, mustard, collard), Sweet Potato, Buckwheat, Apples, Lettuce, Buckwheat bread, Prunes, Water Cress, Oat bran bread, Apricots, Dried Zucchini, Oatmeal, Pears, Asparagus, Oat bran cereal, Plums, Artichokes, Museli, Strawberries, Okra, Wild rice, Oranges, Cabbage, Brown rice, Yams, Celery, Multi-grain bread, Carrots, Cucumbers, Pinto beans, Potatoes, Dill Pickles, Yogurt, low fat Soybeans, Radishes, Skim milk, Lentils, Broccoli, Navy beans, Garbanzo beans, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Kidney beans, Eggplant, Soy milk, Lentils, Onions, Whole meal spelt bread, Split peas, and Tomatoes.
Bread and pastas are not bad, but they are a little more difficult for us to digest and should therefore represent a smaller proportion of your weekly intake. If the bread is made with sprouted grains (Alvarado Street and Ezekiel are brands that you find in the freezer case at whole foods) then it is better. If the Pasta is whole grain and made freshly, then that is the best way to have it. Both bread and pasta are still much better than crackers, cookies, snack bars, and other more-refined foods.
If you really like noodles, be sure to mix up the kind you have. There are rice noodles, buckwheat, semolina, egg, and bean thread noodles (and possibly more). But I'd also recommend getting a rice cooker/warmer and keeping it full with different types of simple grains. It's nice to always have hot rice or other grains on hand.