Do you bring your lunch, or buy it at school/work? I usually make my lunch ahead of time and brown-bag it to school, and on the few occasions I don’t I usually end up standing in a long, rowdy line to pay good money for some form of junk food I don’t really want. I’ve had a few experiences like this, and the burning memory is enough motivation to force me to go to the kitchen in the evenings after a long day of studying and put together a lunch for the following day, to avoid another noontide disaster. I do tend to get lazy and settle for a simple, boring sandwich most days, if only because they’re quick to make and pack. However, sometimes I like to switch things up with something different. After all, there’s a lot to be said for variety in the diet, both in the interest of health and for stimulating the tastebuds! So last week I set aside a little extra time to put together this hearty rice salad for a take-along school lunch.
Presidents’ Day weekend is the perfect time to share this salad idea, as it just so happens to be red, white and blue! (and green, etc.) The brown rice and cut-up string cheese provide a foundation of off-white color, as well as filling fiber from the rice and calcium and protein from the string cheese. Blue is found in the blueberries, which provided some nice sweet, fruity freshness as well as a ton of nutritional benefits including the enhancement of brain health, vision, and the prevention of cancer cell growth. I could really go on forever about the various known and proposed health benefits of blueberries, but if I did that we’d never get to the star of the show: the red strawberry balsamic that really gave this salad its flair! For additional nutritional power, I added a good splash each of cinnamon and sage, spices known to invigorate the senses. The sugar snap peas are a great source of vitamin A and C, as well as a surprising 2g of protein to boot. Overall, this salad is a wonderfully healthy and filling lunch alternative for those who are sick of sandwiches and don’t feel like paying for vending machine junk. Give it a try this week! (P.S.: It doesn’t have to be Presidents’ Day to get your nutrition the red, white and blue way!)
Fruit, Veggie and Brown Rice Salad
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 cup fresh, washed sugar snap peas (I bought the stringless, pre-washed kind for ultimate convenience)
- 1/2 cup fresh, washed blueberries
- 1 low fat Mozzarella string cheese, chopped (or be fancier and use crumbled feta, bleu, etc.)
- generous splash cinnamon
- pinch sage
- 2 tbl 365 Organic brand strawberry balsamic
Toss together the rice, sugar snap peas, blueberries, string cheese, cinnamon and sage.
If you are taking this salad to go, bring your dressing in a separate container (I snagged a single-serve plastic condiment container from Veggie Grill and used it for this – don’t tell!) This way everything stays nice and fresh. When you are ready to enjoy your salad, just add the dressing and dig in!
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