Confessions of a Label-Reader

by Maile on June 21, 2010

I have a confession to make: I’m a label-reading junkie. When I go to the grocery, I read the label of every single item that goes into my cart. I’m not kidding. Every. Single. Item. I guess all this high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil talk has gotten to me a little bit.

But it costs money to eat “healthy”, and since I don’t work, my husband is a writer, and we have 4 children, money isn’t currently raining down in torrents at our house.

All that said, I am still a firm believer that you can feed your family healthy, natural foods without prematurely dipping into your 401k. It requires two things: a good recipe and your time. Not lots of time, but more time than it takes you to tip a box of Rice a Roni into a pot of boiling water. (Just take a look at the ingredient list on a box of Rice a Roni; it’s not pretty. My rule of thumb is “If I can’t pronounce it, I shouldn’t be eating it”. That pretty much rules out most things that come in a box.)

So for today’s Manic Monday, I will provide you with one of the requirements that I mentioned before: a good recipe. You need to provide the time, in this case, about 30 minutes from start to finish.

Keep in mind, this recipe is flexible. Feel free to add whatever veggies you have in the crisper drawer. You’re an adult; I trust you to make good decisions here.

Rice a Veggies (Okay, I need a new name for this recipe. Suggestions? “Max and Ruby” playing in the background while I’m writing this has completely zapped me of all creativity.)

1 can of chicken or vegetable broth
1 c. of long-grain rice
2 tbsp. butter
½ c. onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, cut into matchsticks
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 lb. thin asparagus, cut into thirds
2 tbsp. fresh basil
½ c. Parmesan cheese, grated (see my note from last Monday about Parm. No exceptions.)

Bring broth and rice to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover the pot, turn heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes, till rice is tender. While your rice is cooking, in a large pan sauté onion and garlic in butter, then add mushrooms, zucchini, and carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add asparagus. Continue to cook another 5-8 minutes, till veggies reach a tenderness you like. By this time, your rice should be ready, so add it to the veggies, stir in basil and parm, add salt and pepper as needed, and you’re done.

Let me give you some serving options here. You could dish this up as a side with chicken or fish if you like, or make it into a one-pot wonder by adding some diced, cooked chicken to the ensemble in your pan, or double it (if you have a family of six like me) and do a vegetarian dinner. All delicious and doable in less than 30.

And join me tomorrow as I reminisce about childhood and Cool Whip, and give you a quick new recipe that makes Cool Whip not-so-cool.

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