A zesty chili-lime dressing give this black bean & rice salad a great kick. Serve as a side dish as is or over leafy greens.
- A quick and easy recipe to serve as a side dish or a salad.
- Makes an ideal picnic food or potluck recipe.
- A light lunch option that will keep you feeling full thanks to its high fiber content.
“If you are going to take the time to prepare food, it should really be something healthy for your body [that] makes you feel better.” These words from a recent interview with Alison Schaaf, chef, dietitian and creator of the meal planning site Prep Dish, could easily be my motto. For something a little catchier I have summed up her words like this: if you are going to take time to cook, cook healthy food.
Catchy phrasing aside, I identify with the nuisance of her statement. Cooking is powerful. Every time you cook you have the opportunity to do something wonderful for your body. You can choose to dice an onion and drop the cubes into a puddle of bacon fat or a light drizzle of oil. It is up to you and so are the results.
I talk to people all the time who are tired of feeling stuck in a body that is burdened by excess weight. I understand the pain and desperate desire to lose the extra weight because I have been there. Sometimes they plead, “just give me your number one tip to get started.” The answer is simple: cook healthy food, eat enough to fuel your body, then save the rest for later.
Simple instructions but not always easy.
More times than I am proud to share I have run into the grocery store with half a list and half a menu plan. I’ll prowl the aisles trying to piece together a collection of groceries to fill in the gaps in my list. Inevitably, halfway through shopping I’ll get really hungry.
This is the very scenario that unfolded a few weeks ago. After a few minutes of tummy growls, the little voice in my brain that tries to woo me away from my best intentions began nagging, “detour over to the deli counter.” That pesky voice made some pretty compelling arguments.
Thanks to the overwhelming selection of prepared foods my lunch would be ready to eat as soon as I arrived home. In fact, if I grabbed some plastic cutlery I could begin my lunch in the parking lot. My hunger pangs would be eased while I enjoyed the relief that accompanies instant gratification. It would be so easy!
Then I heard the other voice in my head, the rational one that helps me step back and consider my options.
Recently I have been very good about cooking and eating at home. The results of my intentional efforts have been reflected on the scale. I am well on my way to shedding the last of the post pregnancy pounds from my now 2 ½ year old son. It would be such a shame to break the streak for this brief discomfort. I resolved to follow Schaaf’s excellent advice and take the time to put something healthy in my body that would make me feel better.
I looked into my cart already full of ingredients and made a plan.
I knew I had leftover rice, a can of black beans, and an array of seasonings at home. My cart held a container of grape tomatoes, some limes, and a few avocados. Rather than making due with the pre-made deli options, I chose to take control over every ingredient going into my black bean and rice salad. When I finally sat down to enjoy my lunch the fresh ingredients and zesty flavors really hit the spot.
Ultimately, the chili-lime black bean and rice salad looked much better than any of the choices I could have picked up at the grocery store. Not only did I enjoy a delicious lunch from fresh ingredients, I enjoyed the satisfaction of overcoming a few moments of discomfort in exchange for making a big step forward toward my healthy eating goals. A step that certainly helped me feel better.
- 2 cups brown rice, cooked and cooled
- 1 (15 oz) can no salt added black beans, rinsed
- 1 cup diced English cucumber
- 1 cup of diced avocado, approximately 1 medium
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
- ⅓ cup of freshly squeezed lime juice (approximately 3 limes)
- 1 tablespoon grape seed oil (may substitute canola oil)
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon chili powder
- Combine the salad ingredients in a medium bowl.
- Whisk together the dressing in a small bowl and pour over the salad, mix gently to combine all the ingredients.
- Cover and refrigerate for several hours – up to overnight.