Mexican Rice Salad: so delicious & bursting with veggies

Load up on fibre, protein and healthy vitamins! This Mexican rice salad  makes a savoury snack or side dish. Serve with refried beans and a side of salsa and Greek yogurt for snack, or with quesadillas to make a meal. You can personalize the rice salad to match any leftover vegetables lying about the house.


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rice, cooked (healthier to use brown rice)
  • 3 tbsp niblets (or corn kernels)
  • 2 stalks green onions, chopped
  • 2 small slices jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1 sprig cilantro
  • 1 tsp taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup refried beans
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt

Directions

  1. Place rice in pot and fill with water. Boil until rice is cooked. Mix with niblets and heat for 5 minutes. Mix in taco seasoning.
  2. Place rice and niblets in bowl and add green onions, jalapeno pepper and cilantro. Mix.
  3. Place refried beans into a pan and heat with a touch of water.
  4. Serve refried beans, salsa and Greek yogurt alongside Mexican rice salad. Each spoonful bursts with a different taste!

A different angle of deliciousness.

Nutrition information:

Calories: 341
Fat: 1.4 g
Saturated fat: 0.1 g
Trans fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 945 g (too much, try to find low-sodium beans)
Carbohydrates: 69.7 g
Fibre: 9.3 g (excellent! now imagine it with brown rice)
Sugar: 7.2 g
Protein: 18.2 g (incredible!)
Vitamin A: 14%
Vitamin C: 10%
Calcium: 12%
Iron: 24% (That’s 1/4 of your daily quota)

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    Creamy Avocado Taco: rich in good fats and fibre

    This take on tacos (my favourite food) lets the avocados shine. This recipe offers a great opportunity to finish off your supply of Yves veggie ground leftover from the vegetarian shepherd’s pie. It also covers up the Yves flavour, if that’s not your favourite. Enjoy the health benefits of avocados and deliciousness in one meal!

    Creamy avocado tacos (photo credit: iStock).

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup Yves veggie ground, cooked (recipe here)
    • 1/2 avocado
    • pico de gallo (follow this easy recipe)
    • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
    • 3 tbsp salsa
    • 2 leaves lettuce, shredded
    • 1 large whole wheat tortilla

    Directions

    1. Cook the Yves veggie ground according to this recipe. (Very simply, you will place Yves and water in a pan and cook for a few minutes, adding taco seasoning if desired.) Then mix with this pick-me-up pico de gallo made of tomatoes and onions.
    2. Line the middle of the tortilla with the Greek yogurt. *Note: Greek yogurt is replacing sour cream. One full serving (175 g) of Greek yogurt contains 20 grams of protein, so it’s very healthy!
    3. Scoop the Yves veggie ground and pico de gallo mixture onto the Greek yogurt.
    4. Peel the avocado, place in a bowl and mash the avocado with a spoon or fork. You may choose to add lemon and garlic as in this guacamole recipe or keep it simple and leave as is.
    5. Scoop the avocado onto the Yves veggie ground, then add the salsa and lettuce.
    6. Fold the tortilla and eat immediately, or cut in half, store in a container and heat quickly at work. It makes a great packable lunch!

    Daily food group servings:
    Grain: 1
    Fruits&veg: 2
    Protein alt: 1
    Dairy: 1

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    Read more about the health benfits of avocados.

    Health Benefits of Avocados

    Avocados are the belles of the fruit and vegetable ball. It took some time for them to hit their stride, but now everybody wants them. They’re beautiful, likeable and make you feel good. As their belle status implies, they’re also very popular; they get along well with salad dishes, Mexican meals and snack chips. They’re also rich in monounsaturated fats and promote good skin.

    Yum...(Photo credit: iStock.)

    This week, I’m focusing on avocados. These delicious fruits only entered my life two years ago, but I wasted no time in finding ways to eat them. That’s why you can look forward to some avocado recipes coming later this week.

    So, why eat avocados?

    • They’re rich in healthy monounsaturated fats (the good fats), which help lower cholesterol and reduce fat (hello, flat belly…?). But don’t eat too many of them: they’re high in calories, so you’ve got to eat controlled portions, as with all foods.
    • They offer 35% of your vitamin K quota and 30% of your daily recommended dose of fibre (thank you, Whole Foods).
    • Avocados are heart-heatlhy thanks to their folate offering.
    • This rich, creamy fruit increases the body’s ability to absorb carotenoids found in our favourite vegetables (add avocados to this delicious cucumber, tomato and olive oil salad).
    • Finally, something that has potassium! This mineral helps your body maintain a healthy blood pressure.

    Avocados take some time to ripen and then they spoil quickly and easily. Buy 2 to 3 of them and check back here for more healthy recipes and ways to eat these delicious fruits before they go bad. Yum!

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    Day 3 Healthy Eating: The good, the bad and the best of carbs/fats/protein

    By now, you’ve gotten into the habit of recording what you eat, which not only helps you keep track of the progress you’re making, but also makes you more aware of how you’re eating—and what you’re eating.

    You’ve also learned to think of foods in terms of which food group they belong to, and to balance your meals based on how well you’re meeting Health Canada’s food group suggestions.

    Now that you’ve built the foundation, it’s time to start improving upon it.

    The good and the bad carbs

    Carbohydrates give your body energy. About 50% of the calories you consume daily should come from carbohydrates (this information comes from Claudine Gandolfi’s book, the diet & fitness journal).

    Good carbs:

    • Whole wheat flour (not enriched)
    • Whole wheat toast
    • Whole wheat pasta, brown rice
    • Sweet potatoes, yams
    • Dark chocolate (start cheering!)

    Bad carbs:

    • White flour
    • White toast
    • Pasta, rice
    • White potatoes
    • Milk chocolate

    The good and the bad fats

    Say this with me: Fat is not bad for you. I know it goes against everything you’ve ever been taught, but fat is one of the three essentials for your body (carbohydrates, fat and protein). Your brain is 70% fat—do you really want to compromise that? Fat helps your body absorb certain vitamins (A, D, E and K) and without it, your liver won’t be able to break down the fat you have now.

    It’s all about eating the RIGHT fats. So, no, I didn’t mean that candy is good for you. About 15% to 25% of your daily calorie intake should come from good fat.

    Good fats:

    • Poly- and monounsaturated fats (nuts, avocados, olive and canola oil)
    • Vinaigrettes
    • Broth-based soups
    • Olive oil and garlic
    • Skim/fat-free milk
    • Low-fat or fat-free cheeses and yogurts

    Note: If you’re of a healthy weight, don’t replace your yogurt with low fat. As my dad says, I really need all the good fat I can get from those things. Fat isn’t the enemy—it’s the source of the fat, and how much you eat.

    Bad fats:

    • Saturated fats, trans fats (hydrogenated oils, margarines)
    • Fried foods
    • Creamy dressings
    • Creamy soups
    • Whole milk
    • Cheese and yogurts

    The good and the bad proteins

    I think we all agree protein is a good thing. Protein helps your body build muscle and keeps your hair, skin and nails healthy and happy. About 25% to 35% of your daily calorie intake should be protein-based.

    Good protein:

    • Veggie burger, soy burger
    • Soy dogs
    • Vegetable protein (soy, beans, nuts)

    Bad protein:

    • Fatty cuts of meat

    An important note on protein: Vegetable sources of protein are incomplete and require a companion in order to complete the protein. There are some delicious protein combinations you should make to ensure you’re doing your body right.

    Vegetarians, switch it up between nuts, beans, legumes and dairy. And don’t go overboard on the soy—it’s known to increase the incidence of women’s cancers.

    Meat eaters, thank you for following along and eating healthy. Keep in mind that one serving of meat is only three ounces—that’s not much. And don’t forget you really do need to get your protein from OTHER places as well, like beans, legumes and nuts. Your body doesn’t want meat every day! (Though you may feel you do.)

    Keep up the good work!

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    Confessions of a Vegetarian: I ate vegetables for dinner (and I got full!)

    Extra, extra, read all about it–you can get full off vegetables! The following conversation can never again take place with blissful ignorance:

    You: I’m hungry.
    Parent, guardian, or friend-who-thinks-he-or-she-knows-everything-there-is-to-know-about-health (is that me?): Eat a fruit or vegetable.
    You: That won’t fill me up!

    After a prolonged trip (thank the subway and bus for coordinating a delay in services), I arrive home and happily and politely greet my family before asking the inevitable: “What’s for dinner?”

    My sister snickers as my mother tells me, “You’re looking at it.”

    For a split second, the hungry side of my brain blurts, “Nooo, all I see are salads!” before the healthy part of my brain musteres a confident, “I only had one serving of fruits and vegetables today.”

    (Spssst. I admit I proclaimed rather loudly, “At least I’ll be hungry enough to eat nachos tonight! Last night’s dinner was so filling that I couldn’t.” Somehow it’s always about the nachos, isn’t it?)

    I proceeded to dig into my meal, 95% of which was composed of vegetables! And I was uneasy about 10% of those vegetables, but thanks to a) a determination to eat healthy, b) a willingness to try and c) hunger, nothing tasted bad!

    Tip: Mashed potatoes are the almighty ally. Mixing questionable vegetables into your mashed potatoes masks their flavour!

    Here’s what I ate, if you’re interested in sharing the experience of a truly healthy meal or, at least, attempting to prove or disprove that you can, indeed, get full off vegetables.

    1. The tomato and cucumber salad recipe acts as a base for this hearty salad, but try adding other vegetables as well, such as mushroom, avocado, eggplant and pitted olives.

    2. Boil sweet potato, peel and slice into round entities. Add olive and salt, and top with roasted red pepper. (I’m not a huge fan of red pepper–but I couldn’t even taste it!)

    3. Boil regular potatoes, peel and mash. Add milk for moisture and (optional) salt for flavour. Chop and fry onions to mix; it’s my favourite way to eat mashed potatoes!

    4. The 5% of the meal that was not made of vegetables consisted of sliced cheese (hello, dairy) and hummus (a dash of protein, anyone?)

    Believe it or not, c’est délicieux!

    Healthy snack ideas (fruits, vegetables and dairy)

    You’ve pretty much got grain products and alternatives to meat down pact. I mean, as vegetarians, we do tend to focus a lot on our protein intake.

    If you’re like me, what you’re really concentrating on is getting that protein in there, and after you’ve adapted to finding alternatives to meat, you’re working on being true to vegetarianism—and that means eating vegetables. If you recall, I’m not your average vegetarianvegetables don’t come naturally to me. Or at least, they didn’t used to. Things are a little easier now that I’ve discovered avocados, rapini and even asparagus.

    Here are my simple yet flavourful snack suggestions for sneaking vegetables and dairy products into your diet.

    Dinner party menu planning

    Once you’ve planned your party and brainstormed the menu options, break up your ideas into categories: appetizers, sides (salads), main course, snacks, desserts, beverages. Aim for one to two options in each category and don’t forget to accommodate varying tastes (and diets).

    In my case, I was co-planning a vegetarian dinner party. My goal was to create an affordable meal allowing friends to enjoy their meal, eat healthy (i.e. try more vegetables), and understand where a vegetarian gets her or his protein. Don’t forget that this isn’t just about vegetarians—everyone should vary their protein income!

    Acting on my goal, I created the following snack menu:

    Below you can find the main course menu:

    If you like the sound of any of these recipes, I’ve provided them below. Any dinner party items not mentioned have yet to be posted as recipes, or were cooked and created by my vegetarian friend, who taught me how to make cucumber and avocado sushi! I hope to bring this recipe to you soon.

    Appetizer: Bruschetta recipe

    Salad: Italian salad recipe, a.k.a. Tomato and cucumber salad recipe

    Dinner: Taco pizza recipe, Taco lasagna recipe, Bean&Cheese quesadilla recipe

    Beverage: Banana milkshake (Visit tomorrow!)

    Holding your own dinner party? We want to hear about it! Please post in the comments below.

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