Packaged, seasoned rice dishes are loaded with sodium and preservatives. Sure, it’s easy when it comes from a box, but why not try it yourself? I created this healthier version that’s become a family hit. Serve beside chicken, pork, seafood, beef or veggies, or try it with tacos (my favorite). Leftovers are convenient for lunch, too.
1 cup brown rice
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon Latin spice mix (suggested: Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime or Goya Sazón Natural)
1 teaspoon chili sauce
1/2 cup low-fat shredded cheese (your choice)
1 cup frozen green peas
1) Brown Rice
Switching to brown rice is an easy way to get more servings of whole grains. The extra fiber, protein and B vitamins keep you satisfied and energized; its mild, nutty flavor goes perfectly with the other ingredients in this recipe.
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, combine rice with 2 cups of water and a dash of salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.
2) Latin Spice Mix
Spice blends usually contain garlic, cumin, chili and coriander. Some also include a spice called annatto — it’s peppery, delicious and has a unique red color. Mixes like Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime (a new Mrs. Dash offering) or Goya Sazón Natural & Complete give flavor without unnecessary salt.
3) Chili Sauce
I’m a chili sauce addict! My favorite is Sriracha. Just a few drops infuses the right amount of sweet heat — plus, it’s another way to add flavor without the extra calories!
While the rice is cooking, combine 2 tablespoons of canola oil, the spice mix and chili sauce in a small bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
4) Low-Fat Shredded Cheese
Low-fat cheese — not non-fat — is always the better way to go. Fat-free kinds tend to have more chemicals in them than cheese and almost no flavor, but low-fat varieties have all the calcium, protein, taste and texture without as much saturated fat. I use a blend of cheddar, mozzarella and Monterey jack.
5) Frozen Peas
When I first made this recipe, I thought it needed something green to liven it up — and when you mix legumes like peas with a grain, you create a protein combination the body prefers. Peas also contain high amounts of vitamins A, C, K and thiamin. There’s no need to thaw the peas, they will warm up quickly when added to the rice.
Once the rice is cooked, add the spice mixture, cheese and peas; stir well to combine. Garnish with chopped scallions and fresh cilantro, if desired. This recipe serves 6.
Nutrition Info (per serving):
Fat: 6 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Protein: 6 grams
Carbohydrate: 27 grams
Sodium: 95 milligrams
Cholesterol: 2 milligrams
Fiber: 2 grams
Servings: 6 (2/3 cup per person)