March's Mouth-Watering Meals

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MarchMemorableMeals

Click on the photos or here to see and print the recipes.

My family loves rice. All kinds of rice: wild, brown, basmati, risotto, arborio, jasmine... the list goes on. In fact, there are over 40,000 varieties of rice in this world. whoa. I love the ways I can use it in different cuisines. Mexican rice with cilantro and black beans. Sticky jasmine rice with flakes of coconut. Brown rice with broccoli sprinkled with grated parmesan. Wild rice in my Chicken soup. Hot rice cereal.

Now, there is one rice that I will not eat again if I can avoid it. Can you guess? Minute rice. Minute rice is pre-cooked and is equally an empty sugar carb like other white rice. I do love some nice sticky Jasmine rice with my stir frys... so what's the catch? The texture and taste. It's lacking to say the least! I'll never forget the time when I returned to the US after living in China for 10 months and someone offered me an American-Chinese dish served on Minute rice. I was thinking "Eh? Wha-? This isn't rice!" I was spoiled eating fresh cooked white rice for two meals a day along with drinking boiled rice water... I was hooked and forever changed. Go ahead and stick the label on my forehead - I'm a rice snob.

Now, I'm sure you can assume correctly that brown rice is more healthy than white rice but it can also take more time. Unfortunately, white rice is over processed which kills off the healthy parts, the germ and the bran. Brown rice on the other hand is packed with minerals, vitamins, it is high in fiber, and is naturally low in fat. The battle of quality vs. convenience.

This is where meal planning can be crucial. The bulk section at grocery stores offers some good affordable options. Prepping rice on the stovetop only takes a couple minutes. You add the water, salt, rice, and butter/oil. While the rice is simmering (from 30 minutes to an hour depending on rice) you can prepare the meat and vegetables of your meal and even cut up some fruit for dessert. Sounds great to me!

But what about the nights when you did not plan ahead, or something unexpected comes up, and you have only 30 minutes to cook dinner and eat it? argh! There is a solution to keep in your freezer for times such as these and it is far above Minute rice. I'm talking about Rice Expressions Brown Rice - it's 100% organic - and it takes 3 minutes to make! What? what?! Our grocery store was having a sale where if you bought two frozen bags of organic vegetables you received a box of Rice Expressions frozen organic rice for free. I was planning on getting the vegetables anyway so the sale reward was a plus! If you don't have Rice Expressions in your grocery freezer you may have a Trader Joe's nearby and they also have frozen rice varieties (with high reviews) that cook up in a jiffy.

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I was a bit skeptical (remember I am a rice snob) but the rice turned out just as good as if I had it bubbling in my dutch oven for the last 45 minutes. Now all you have to do is fry a couple of fish filets, steam vegetables, and you have dinner ready in 10 minutes. Yee haw! If you are at all concerned about cooking in the microwave you can still cook microwavable rice without the microwave. It will take 5 minutes on the stove top instead of three.

You do not have to sacrifice the quality of food for convenience of time.

I want to know: What quick but healthy meals are your favorite? Do share! 

AmandaSignature

Banana Avocado "Ice Cream"

I don't know about you, but when 8:30 rolls around in my house something terrible happens. It's as if I haven't eaten for the entire day. I must get my paws on some food. Not just any kind of food either, ice cream kind of food. My husband, while being a gem most of the time, doesn't always appreciate traipsing out into the 25 degree outdoors for a seemingly unnecessary dessert (Though he has not been pregnant ever. He will never truly understand the gravity that is a craving.) Truthfully, my waistline isn't really approving either... I recently received a Cuisinart food processor for Christmas from the in-laws. This thing is seriously amazing in so many ways. You can chop a million things at once, make banana ice cream, make dough, make smoothies. But I digress. In the little cookbook that comes with the food processor it has a recipe for Banana Ice Cream. The recipe consists of frozen bananas, some vanilla, and cream. Of course I like to make a few changes and complicate just about everything I do in the kitchen, so this little concoction was hatched-- Banana Avocado "Ice Cream."

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This is a super simple recipe (no matter how much I tried to complicate things.) Simply add frozen banana, ripe avocado, vanilla, milk, a dash of cinnamon, and a dollop of maple syrup if you are feeling especially dangerous.

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Process until smooth and creamy, like soft-serve ice cream.

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And eat! Eat like it's not ice cream, because it's NOT, and therefore in my mind it is virtually calorie free (though I will admit, that is a lie!) It is loads healthier than eating ice cream from a tub which likely includes high fructose corn syrup in its ingredient list. It also has a more unique flavor with the avocado and cinnamon, which makes you feel a teeny bit classier whilst you stuff your face in sweats on the couch. :D

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Do you cave to your cravings after a long day? Have any healthy recipes that feel like cheating? Please indulge me with your thoughts.

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