Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice

After listening to Dr. Hans Diehl (creator of the CHIP program) speak this weekend, I am once again tweaking our vegan diet.  We already have been consuming vasts quantities of fruits and veggies, including for juicing.  Now we’re ncreasing whole grains (I’m not talking about the flour, but the actual grains) while keeping out the sneaky processed flours that show up when your guard is down and you buy packaged things; cutting back – to the point of eliminating – processed sweeteners (this is my biggest difficulty); and decreasing oils (it’s recommended to not use any added oils, but I’m not sure about that one for me with my mega-dry skin and hair.)  Not only is this a way to maximize health long-term, but in the short term (less than 1 week), I’ve lost pounds!  And I’m eating way more than I was.  Win, win!

BUT!  If my family is going to tolerate me messing with their food – again – it had better be tasty stuff that I fix them, or there will be a revolt against lots of grain, especially plain old rice, showing up on their plates.  While I love the stuff, most of them have never been fans.  Surprisingly, I have a lot of recipes for main dishes using whole grains that we’ve tried.  It’s time to dust off some of the tried-and-true recipes, as well as invent some new ones.

Cilantro-Lime RiceLast night, my son-in-law showed up with a brown bag from Chipotle.  It smelled so good!  Short of putting on my coat and driving to Chipotle, I decided right then that the next day I would make up a really big batch of cilantro-lime rice to split up into smaller amounts for the freezer so that on short notice, I could make something wonderful when tantalizing food teases me.

I’ve tried to make this before, but it fell short.  This time, I thought some onion, garlic, and lime zest would help things along.  And how!!  What a difference.  I had a healthy scoop with some black beans and tomatoes for lunch – yum.

Freeze the extra amounts in meal-sized packages for later use unless you have a large family.

Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice 

  • 3 c. long brown rice (basmati or jasmine is nice, but not imperative)
  • 8 1/2-9 c. water (or whatever your container of rice indicates is needed)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • zest of 1 lime, microplaned (this really makes it shine)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 c. loosely packed cilantro leaves, minced

Bring the first 6 ingredients to a boil in a heavy-duty 3-qt. pan, and then cook over medium-low heat until the water is absorbed (or a little tiny bit is left in the bottom of the pan.)  Taste test it to make sure the rice is soft.  If needed, add a little water and continue cooking.  When it is finished, stir it well and replace the lid, leaving it to rest for at least 15 minutes to steam and get fluffier.  Meanwhile, juice the lime and toss it with the cilantro leaves.

Once the rice is finished steaming, toss it with the lime juice and cilantro.  Serve with any Mexican-style meal, or just with some beans for a quick meal.

Creamy Sweet Rice Salad (formerly known as Rosa Marina Salad)

I promised a short series on breakfasts several months ago…and then I dropped off the face of the planet again.  Sorry.  Life has changed once again and I should be posting more often now.

Preparing fun breakfasts has kinda dropped off around here, too.  I loved eating them, perhaps too much, because I gained weight!  Eating great breakfasts was supposed to help balance the rest of the day and help me eat less, but, apparently, I just love food so much that it didn’t work that way for me.  So, I’ve gone back to a nutrient-packed green smoothie most mornings and save the special breakfasts for special treats.

Rosa MarinaThis salad certainly works for a breakfast treat, or for a healthy dessert!  My preparation of it has changed over the years.  When I first made it, we were vegetarian, but not necessarily healthy ones ~ and it contained eggs, Cool Whip, white sugar, maraschino cherries….obviously, things were going to have to change in the salad when we became vegan and also gave up so many chemicals in our foods!  I finally nailed a tasty version of the salad without maraschino cherries (one of my childhood favorites.)  It still did contain the very small pasta called rosa marina or orzo, which helped the dressing to firm up into a nice, thick creamy dream.

Then…dun, dun, dun…enter gluten issues for me.  This salad was just one of the many casualties of my new way of eating.  It broke my heart (all of the situation, not just losing this salad.)  I tried and tried to come up with suitable replacements, but everything I replaced just failed.  Quinoa was too chewy; long-grained rice’s texture was off; the creamy dressing never set up.  It was very disappointing.  And my family was starting to make disparaging comments about the versions I created, because nothing was as good to them as the orzo!  (Never mind that white flour pasta isn’t good for you and nobody seems to make whole grain orzo.)

This time, I succeeded.  I adjusted the dressing to have less liquid.  I used short grain brown rice to give a better texture and since it is somewhat sticky, it allowed the creamy dressing to thicken properly.  Granted, my family still is a little on the fence about it, because they remember the pasta version and textures are a big deal to them.  Personally, I love it and am so happy to have it back in my life that I fix it despite their opinions.

I’ve been known to add sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen cherries, or blueberries to change things up a bit ~ although they can really change the color of the cream.  (I can guarantee the whole salad to myself this way, because of my fussy eaters, so adding it to individual bowls may work better.)  I have also been toying with the idea of using fresh pineapple, but I’m wondering if that would curdle the cream.  Let me know what adaptations you come up with to try!

Creamy Sweet Rice Salad

  • 1 c. short brown rice
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. water (or according to rice package)
  • 2 20-oz cans unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve 1 c. of the juice!)
  • 3 11-oz. cans of mandarin orange segments, drained (do NOT reserve the liquid)
  • 1 12-oz pkg. Morinu extra-firm tofu
  • 3/4 c. raw cashews (soak these for 4 hours or so if you don’t have a strong blender)
  • 1 c. reserved pineapple juice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. evaporated cane juice crystals OR 1/4 tsp.+ pure stevia OR other equivalent dry sweetener

Cook rice according to package directions, but make sure it is quite well done so that it isn’t too chewy.  Meanwhile, place fruit into a large mixing bowl.  Blend the last 6 ingredients until very smooth and pour over the fruit.  When the rice is ready, mix it into the fruit and cream.  Refrigerate until cold and the cream sets up nicely.

Vegan Custard Rice Pudding

This rice pudding is reminiscent of the old-fashioned custard rice pudding I grew up eating (minus the raisins that I always picked out ~ why did Daddy like those?)  Mama used her mother’s thin, age-darkened recipe written in a spidery hand, which, instead of giving an oven temperature, called for a “slow oven” ~ because grandma had used a wood stove! It has always been my standard against which to measure all other rice puddings.

No wonder I was so unhappy with the rice pudding recipes I found when we became vegan.  Who wanted sweetened rice in a puddle of non-dairy milk?  Where was the pudding?  Where was the custard?  Was it even possible to get that without dairy ingredients and eggs?

This is a combination of several internet recipes from a few years ago.  It has the wonderful custard that so many sadly lacked.  It is not low fat, but it is exactly what I was aiming to replicate.

And if you must add raisins to duplicate your childhood memory, then *sigh* I guess that’s allowable.  🙂  Grandma’s recipe says to add 1 c. raisins.

Vegan Custard Rice Pudding

  • 6 c. cooked brown rice (I have used as little as 4 c., but 5-6 c. is much better) *
  • 4 c. Silk vanilla soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1 package Morinu extra-firm tofu
  • 3 T. Ener-G egg replacer powder (no liquid added)
  • 4 T. Earth-Balance non-hydrogenated stick “butter” (1/2 stick), softened
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (or sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp. pure stevia powder (or 1/2 c. more evap. cane juice)
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Whiz in blender all ingredients except rice and cinnamon.  (If you don’t have a 56-oz. blender, then leave 2 c. of soymilk out and mix it with the blended mixture before adding rice in the next step.)  Stir blender mixture in with rice in a 3-4 qt. dish (a 9″x13″ cake pan is 3 qt.)  Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.  Bake for 45-60 minutes at 350°.

The top will split and crinkle as it cools just like grandma’s recipe! May be served warm, but I like it best cold.

*Note:  My cooked rice in this batch was a bit firm and somewhat dry to start the recipe.  It absorbed more of the “custard” than usual.  It was still very good, but since my favorite part happens to be the custard….I, therefore, recommend brown rice that is soft and moist, or use only 5 cups.