Recipe: DIY Rice Bowl

This is not so much a recipe but a few suggestions for a delicious and nutritious lunch or dinner. It all starts with a base of rice and beans then you top it with yummy ingredients to give you a bowl of food that punches you right in the mouth. In a good way, of course. It’s entirely up to you how healthy or unhealthy you wish to make this, but you should know that it’s a fantastic opportunity to up your 5-a-day without having to eat a single lettuce leaf. Unless you want to obviously, in which case be my guest.

Serves 2-4 (depending on what you put on top really)

What you need:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 400g tin of kidney beans
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 250g cooked brown rice
  • A selection of delicious goodies to top it with, see suggestions below

What you do:

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the garlic and chilli for just a minute, then add the tin of kidney beans that have been drained. Cook the beans for a couple of minutes until the skins start to burst, which allows all the lovely flavours to really penetrate.
  2. Add the tomato puree and cumin and cook for a minute or so to remove the floury taste from the puree, then add the rice and stir well to combine everything together. This can be eaten hot, warm or cold so do the next part as and when you please. I like it best just a little above room temperature. When you’re ready, put the rice and bean mixture into a bowl. This serves two so if it’s just you eating, store the other half in the fridge once it’s cold and have it another time.

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Now rice and beans alone does not an exciting lunch make. I started by adding some sweetcorn to bring some sunshine to a gloomy January day.

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Next, I mashed half an avocado with some lime juice and a sprinkling of Himalayan pink salt and added this. You really don’t need to rush out to buy pink salt, I just like it as it looks pretty on my kitchen side. Plus, all the cool people use it and I so desperately want to be cool.

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For an extra hit of colour, I added half a chopped tomato and sprinkled this with some salt too.

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Next, some hummus. This is a homemade red pepper and paprika hummus which is amazing but you can use any type, either bought (I won’t judge) or made from scratch.

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Then I chucked on some cubes of feta cheese, which I adore. You could totally leave out the cheese if you wanted to keep this really healthy, but feta is one of the lowest calorie cheeses, plus it’s so highly flavoured that you don’t really need that much to pack a punch of salty flavour.

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For greed alone, and the fact that I had some in the cupboard that needed using up, I had a warm flatbread on the side. You really don’t need it, but it was so good to scoop everything up with.

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I finished off with a little squeeze of lime to brighten it all up and dug in. There are so many strong, punchy flavours, that this doesn’t even feel like healthy food but it really is. Trust me when I say this is good!

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The world is your rice bowl, so go wild with the toppings. Here are some ideas to get the juices flowing:

  • Swap the kidney beans in the base for black beans, chickpeas or any other kind of bean for a change
  • Likewise, you don’t have to use brown rice, you could use white or swap it for quinoa, buckwheat or any other kind of grain that takes your fancy
  • Try adding some mango chunks on top of the rice to add a tropical, fruity twist
  • Olives would be great, especially some lovely garlicky ones
  • Slices of fried chorizo would be delicious and fit in quite well with my slightly Mexican theme
  • Leftover pulled pork  – er hello, who has leftover pulled pork? Would be good though wouldn’t it?
  • Chicken, either leftover from the Sunday roast and shredded or you can buy packs of chunks already prepared
  • Some spinach leaves would add a hit of green goodness
  • Roasted vegetables, especially sweet potato would be so good
  • Toasted pine nuts add a glorious crunch and nutty flavour
  • Hard boiled eggs would be a great protein option
  • Try some steamed broccoli on top if you wanted something green

Let me know if anyone tries any of the suggestions above and what your favourite combos are. Enjoy!

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