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Monday, June 10, 2013

Brown Rice & Roasted Vegetable Salad

The reason that I love this brown rice & roasted vegetable salad so much and go back to it time and time again is that it's a flexible dish that you can adjust according to your preferences by adding or subtracting whatever you'd like. And it's so simple, and simple recipes are what I generally gravitate towards. Not to mention it holds up perfectly for leftovers, which is often a deciding factor in whether or not I make a recipe - the less time I have to spend thinking of what I'm going to have each night for dinner, the better my mood and the more time I have to spend on other things! Plus, any recipe with roasted vegetables draws my attention immediately... as long as you have your delicious raw wildcard salad first. ;-)

If you're at the beginning stages of transitioning to a healthier diet, integrating roasted vegetables into your meals is the perfect way to ensure that you stay on track. You can turn an ordinary dish into a spectacular dish by simply roasting veggies with unrefined oil, high-quality sea salt and pepper (and other herbs and spices too, if you're feeling adventurous). Roasted vegetables are so delightful and tasty because they're heated above 330°F, which allows them to caramelize and thus unleashes their naturally sweet, rich flavor.¹

Veggies all prepped and ready to be roasted. This might sound crazy but roasted vegetables are like french fries to me, only better and a million times healthier of course. It's such a relief when you come to the realization that adopting a healthy diet doesn't mean you have to sacrifice flavor. It just takes patience and experimentation but it's beyond worth it. :-)

Steamed vegetables are an excellent option too, and maybe even ideal over roasting for nutritional preservation purposes, since they require less time to cook while at a lower temperature (no higher than 212°F). There's also no use of oil when steaming. However, consuming vegetables period is better than not at all, especially if you're trying to find ways to incorporate them into your diet so that it makes them palatable and more likely for you to continue making healthier choices. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Baby steps.

I used (organic) brown rice like the original recipe calls for, but I'm sure quinoa would work beautifully too. You could add squash, bell peppers, zucchini, etc.

In today's ingredient spotlight, I present to you...

• Onions, which are a detoxifying vegetable that cleanse the liver, skin and blood. Certain cultures are known to use them as a natural medicine since they possess antibacterial properties.² 

• Broccoli possesses many beautifying vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc as well as vitamin A, which helps to smooth and repair the skin. This vegetable is full of anti-aging antioxidants and fiber, which help the body to expel toxins. Broccoli also contains calcium, which is actually leached from your bones when you consume acidic foods like dairy, (we've all been led to believe dairy builds strong bones - it doesn't, but that's a whole other discussion for another day). Your body is trying to maintain balance so the alkaline mineral, calcium, is leached from your bones to neutralize the acidity. Luckily, we're able to retain calcium better with this plant-based form of calcium, as it leaves an alkaline residue in the body.³

• Due to its content of vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, cauliflower helps to reduce inflammation in the body, which is a cause of most chronic illnesses and cancers. It also contains powerful antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, manganese, and carotenoids, which prevent free-radical damage.

TIP: Buy brown rice, quinoa & other whole grains, nutritional yeast, beans, nuts, seeds, etc. in bulk in the bulk aisle of health food stores (or online) to cut down on costs!

Brown Rice & Roasted Vegetable Salad
Adapted recipe from this recipe

YIELD: 2 servings as an entree, 4 as a side dish

• 1 cup short grain brown rice
• 2 cups filtered water
• 1 Tbs grapeseed or coconut oil *See note
• 3/4 tsp + 1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt
• 2 heads broccoli (approx. 2 1/2 cups cut florets)
• 1/2 head cauliflower (approx. 2 1/2 cups cut florets)
• 2 carrots
• 1/2 white or yellow onion
• 1/4 tsp black pepper
• 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
• 1/3 cup chopped parsley or basil (I prefer basil but it's up to you!)

1. Combine the water, rice and 3/4 tsp sea salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Set aside for 45 min to an hour, or until the water is absorbed.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
3. Cut the broccoli and cauliflower florets into 1-inch (bite-size) pieces. Peel and cut the carrots into 1/2 inch dice. Chop onion.
4. In a bowl or large plastic bag, toss the vegetables with 1 Tbs oil, 1/2 tsp sea salt and black pepper.
5. Spread vegetables evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast vegetables for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through. Roast until vegetables are golden and start to soften.
6. Combine the rice and vegetables together and add lemon juice and herbs. Toss together.
7. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Note: I'll do another blog post on cooking oils at a later time. I'm still researching this important topic. I am aware that grapeseed oil isn't ideal. Coconut oil is the best choice, but some dislike the coconut flavor mixed with some vegetables. It's difficult to find an organic, unrefined oil that can be heated to high temperatures without going rancid, but no worries, we'll get to the bottom of it.

"Every 35 days, your skin replaces itself. Your liver, about a month. Your body makes these new cells from the food you eat. What you eat literally becomes you. You have a choice in what you're made of. You are what you eat." -Unknown

2. Snyder, Kimberly. "Beautiful Skin." The Beauty Detox Foods. Ontario: Harlequin, 2013. 109. Print.
3. Snyder, Kimberly. "Beautiful Body." The Beauty Detox Foods. Ontario: Harlequin, 2013. 132. Print.


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