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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Turning cilantro into cilantro rice…

Ok, that headline is meant to be a play on the “turning lemons into lemonade” saying. Not sure if it quite works, but I’m going to forge ahead anyway!

It’s been quite an eventful Monday. And when I say eventful, I think you can gather that I don’t mean that in a good way ;). The seeds for Monday morning were really planted last night, when I discovered that the FOB (aka the little remote control doohickey) to get into my condo complex’s garage and all of the pedestrian gates, stopped working. I was thisclose to not being able to get inside my own home, until a neighbor of mine took pity and let me in with his working FOB (not sure how he escaped the curse, seeing as how many of my neighbors experienced the same thing I did last night, but I digress).

So the good news is, I was able to get inside my home. Now the bad news is, I can’t really leave, because I have no way of getting back in, because, well, I can’t count on said good samaritan neighbor hanging out by the garage door at all hours of the day to let people in.

Since I’ve been stuck at home waiting for this FOB issue to get resolved (halleluia for my company being cool with folks working from home), I decided I would soothe my agitated nerves by getting a little cooking in while I worked. So the result? I made myself some cilantro rice, since I’d been craving it for a while, and I just happened to have all of the ingredients on hand (which is important, seeing as how I can’t very well get out and get groceries while I’m trapped in my home).

For anyone else who loves, loves, loves cilantro as I do, this is a must try!

Cilantro Brown Rice (serves 4-6; adapted from Aida Mollencamp recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice (I used brown basmati rice, which is my favorite)
  • 1 2/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 cups of cilantro, loosely packed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Directions:

Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat.

In the meantime, pour 1 cup of the chicken broth in a blender, along with the garlic and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then blend until smooth.

When the dutch oven is ready, add the onions and season with salt to “sweat” them, cooking until translucent (about 2 minutes). Add the rice and toast the rice until it starts to become translucent (again, about 2 minutes). Add the cilantro-broth mixture and the remaining chicken broth, then bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat to low and cover to let the rice simmer for 15-20 minutes (check at 15 minutes; you’ll know it’s ready when the rice has absorbed just about all of the liquid–if it hasn’t, wait another 5 minutes or so). Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, for another 5 minutes, then uncover and fluff the rice.

And there you go! I love pairing this with roast chicken, or a more South-of-the-border inspired dish, such as fajitas or fish tacos, or whatever else tickles your palate. Use your imagination :).

cilantro rice

Mmm, cilantro...

Whole-y fat!

For years, I’ve been a big consumer of nonfat/reduced fat foods. Even before I lost 30 pounds on Weight Watchers, I had absorbed enough of the “Fat is evil!!” rhetoric to know to stay away from full fat anything–or full calorie anything, for that matter.

When I first started learning about “clean eating” a few years ago, I started to see the importance of eating foods that were as close to their natural state as possible. I started shopping more in the aisles of my grocery store (and pretty much switched over exclusively to places such as Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and farmer’s markets), made sure to include vegetables and fruits at every meal, switched to whole grain carbs, and started paying way more attention to labels and ingredients than I ever did (a traumatic experience at times, let me tell you). But one thing I still couldn’t quite master was embracing the “we need fat” philosophy.

Oh sure, I started to take baby steps towards it. I did concede somewhat by slowly incorporating avocados and olive oil and nuts into my eating, but I still couldn’t fully let go of the fat phobia I’d had for years. Maybe it’s the trauma of being called a “butterball” at the age of 13 by the guy I liked in junior high, but I’ve never been able to really go full hog (no pun intended–well, maybe a little ;)) into the realm of eating full fat foods–even if they were far less processed than their lower-fat and nonfat frankencousins.

That is, until I tried whole milk. Now I admit, I was scared to at first. I mean, as someone who watches my calories like a hawk, the idea of switching from skim milk to whole milk made me all panicky. But, I’d read enough about the health benefits of eating foods in their natural states–which includes avoiding reduced fat foods as much as possible–that I decided to finally make the leap. And much to my surprise? I love it!

My big fear in making the switch was that I’d basically have calorie bombs for meals. I drink a lot of milk and eat a lot of cheese, and I kept doing the math in my head, thinking it was all going to add up and I was going to gain all of the weight back that I’d worked so hard to lose. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that for the first time in a long time, I actually feel fuller after a meal, and find that I’m less prone to cravings or snack attacks. And at the end of the day, when I looked at my food journal and added up all of the calories, what do you know–I actually took in fewer overall calories than I had been doing for weeks!

Quite the paradox.

So… I am sold. Not only do I feel more satisfied with my meals, but, let’s face it–full fat stuff just tastes 1000x times better than their nonfat and reduced fat counterparts. Score!