Brown Rice Salad with Seasonal Veggies

In the springtime, wild foods begin to grow. The first seasonal crops are available at our local health food store. I like to  find ways to use seasonal foods in my dishes. Local-grown is much appreciated in our area. In this recipe I used fiddlehead ferns, ramps, spring onions and mustard greens. Mustard greens also grow wild in our region. It is one of the first spring crops–and I happen to love them! If you don’t have fiddleheads, you can certainly use other veggies: green beans, asparagus….This was my first attempt at incorporating the fiddleheads into a recipe. It was a great conversation piece at work. The customers were as intrigued by them as I was. They appreciated seeing how they can be used and how they tasted. I was surprised how well they were received.

Ingredients

4 cups cooked short-grain brown rice*
3 Tbs. olive oil or other good quality oil
2-3 Tbs. chopped or minced garlic
1 cup chopped onions, spring onions, ramps, or scallions
½ cup fiddle heads—cut into small pieces
3 cups finely chopped greens (mustard, spinach, chard, etc.)
2 tsp. Bragg’s Soy Sauce
2 Tbs. Tahini
1-2 Tbs. water
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. sesame oil
4 Tbs. toasted chopped almonds

*Option: Cook 2 cups of brown rice with 4 cups of water and one bouillon cube instead  of salt to add more flavor to the rice.

Put cooked rice into medium size mixing bowl. Set aside. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and chopped onions. Sauté briefly, then add the fiddle heads. Sauté for about 5-10 minutes, until tender. Add chopped greens. Cook until tender. Add soy sauce. Stir to combine. Add veggies to brown rice. Stir ingredients together. Set aside. Put tahini into small bowl. Add water and lemon juice gradually, stirring with a whisk. Add enough water to thin out a bit (though not too watery). Add tahini mixture and sesame oil to the rice. Add almonds and stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Health Benefits of Brown Rice

Brown rice is the “unrefined” version of white rice. Before white rice went through the refining process, it at one time looked exactly like brown rice. The side hulls and brans provide “natural wholeness” to the grain and are rich in proteins, thiamine, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and potassium. For those trying to lose weight or those suffering from diabetes, brown rice can prove a healthful staple given its low glycemic rating which helps reduce insulin spikes.

  1. Rich in Selenium: Brown rice is rich in selenium which reduces the risk for developing common illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis.
  2. High in Manganese : One cup of brown rice provides 80% of our daily manganese requirements. Manganese helps the body synthesize fats. Manganese also benefits our nervous and reproductive systems.
  3. Rich in Naturally-Occurring Oils: Naturally occurring oils are beneficial for the body as these healthful fats help normalize cholesterol levels.
  4. Promotes Weight Loss: The fiber content of brown rice keeps bowel function at its peak since it makes digestion that much easier. Brown rice is the perfect addition to the daily diet for those seeking bowel regularity. In addition, brown rice also makes the tummy feel full which translates to smaller meal portions.
  5. Considered Whole Grain: Brown rice is considered a whole grain since it hasn’t lost its “wholeness” through the refinement process. Wholes grains are proven to reduce the buildup of arterial plaque and reduce the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.
  6. Rich in Anti-Oxidants: This is one of the best kept secrets regarding brown rice. We usually associate anti-oxidant rich foods with blueberries, strawberries and other fruits and vegetables. The antioxidant capacity of brown rice is right up there with these super stars.
  7. High in Fiber: Brown rice is high in fiber and on top of the list for foods that can help prevent colon cancer. This can be attributed to the high levels of fiber naturally contained in brown rice. These fibers attach to substances that cause cancer as well as to toxins in the body, thus eliminating them and keeping them from attaching to the colon wall.
  8. A Slow-Release Sugar: Brown rice helps stabilize blood sugar levels; therefore, it’s an excellent food choice for those suffering from diabetes. Studies show that those who consume one half cup of brown rice daily reduce their risks of developing diabetes by 60%. On the other hand, those who consume white rice regularly increase their chances of developing diabetes 100 fold.
  9. Perfect Baby Food: Brown rice cereal or brown rice itself is the perfect baby’s first food due to the dense natural nutrition and fiber it contains. This is a much better choice than refined white rice cereal products as rapidly growing babies and toddlers require nutrient rich diets to help maintain rapid growth cycles.
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