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Black rice tortillas by Food for Life liven up burritos

A tostada made on a Food for Life black rice tortilla
A tostada made on a Food for Life black rice tortilla
Teresa Bergen

If you’re a vegetarian who favors simple cooking, you might find yourself making variations on a theme over and over. Or, in my case, two themes: stir fries with vegetables and rice, and burritos. Food for Life’s new black rice tortillas combine elements of both these dishes, rice and tortillas. Perhaps that’s why I like them so much. But to make things even better, they use black rice, rather than workaday brown. It lends an exotic, sort of nutty flavor to the tortilla.

According to the back of the package, “In ancient times, black rice was reserved exclusively for Chinese emperors. No others were allowed to consume it.” Fortunately, we live in more egalitarian times now. In fact, Food for Life tortillas are so inclusive that even gluten-free commoners can enjoy them.

So what’s the health profile of a black rice tortilla? One tortilla has 170 calories, 35 from fat. Each contains 30 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram sugar, 4 grams protein and 2 grams fiber. This may be more fiber than in an ordinary flour tortilla, but only half of that found in my usual whole wheat tortillas. These tortillas also contain at least 10 percent of the recommend daily value of vitamins E and B6, thiamin, phosphorus and magnesium, plus lots of antioxidants.

My favorite way to cook tortillas is in a frying pan with no oil, crisping them on each side, then putting beans and vegetables on top. More a tostada than a burrito. These black rice tortillas aren’t very pliable; when I folded them to make soy cheese quesadillas, they cracked.

Overall, the Food for Life black rice tortillas taste good and are aesthetically pleasing. Their purplish black color looks fabulous topped with similar colors, such as black beans and chopped purple cabbage, or with contrasts like grated carrot or sliced yellow peppers. They’ll make an impressive addition to your next Mexican-themed dinner party.