Sometimes its hard to find time to make a healthy hot lunch that will stick to your ribs and won't break the bank.
This starts with a rice mix which can be cooked in large quantities and a sauce that can also be prepared in advance, if you're luck your mother will make large batches from the family vegetable garden and give you single serving frozen portions!
Step 1: Preparing the Rice
I have a rice cooker, but you can also easily prepare the rice in a pot on the stove top. The amount of water, rice, and olive oil are printed on the package for whatever rice mixture you choose to use.
I used a brown and wild rice mixture. The brown rice is not refined like a white rice, white rice has had the bran and side hull removed from each grain. It is these parts that make the rice easier to digest and contains iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and natural oils. It also contains fiber which helps you feel full sooner so can help you eat less and therefore weigh less. The wild rice contains some protein, vitamins C and E, and some antioxidants. It also has a pleasant nutty flavor that adds interest to a meal.
For this rice mix, I added:
2 cups rice mixture
3.5 cups of cold water
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Once I loaded the rice cooker, I mixed the contents well, and then I pressed "cook" and waited until the rice was finished.
Step 2: Fluff the Rice and Freeze the Extra Portions
After the rice is cooked, gently fluff the rice with a spoon. Make sure you scrap the sides and the bottom of the rice cooker while you are fluffing and while the cooker is still hot otherwise the rice will stick to the pan.
Scoop out enough for your lunch, and then store the remainder for your lunches throughout the week. I put mine in canning jars and freeze it in portion size jars.
Step 3: Add a Flavorful Sauce to Your Rice
Fortunately my mother happens to make large batches of several different sauces in August each year when our large tomato harvest was ripe. She modified a basic ragu recipe to make it a bit healthier. Here is the recipe she uses:
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (soak the mushrooms in warm water and include the soaking water in the recipe)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 large carrot, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
finely diced 1 pound ground bison
8 cups tomato sauce (she makes this fresh from our tomatoes)
2 cups tomato stock (she also makes this fresh from our tomatoes)
freshly ground pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
To prepare the sauce, she covers mushrooms with 1 cup boiling water and lets them sit until the water has cooled. Then she removes and coarsely chops the mushrooms, saving liquid to add to the sauce. The soaking liquid has a lot of flavor. Next she cooks the onion, carrot abd celery in olive oil in a saucepan until the onion turns a golden color, then adds the bison meat to these vegetables and cooks it until it has browned. Then she adds the stock and simmers until it has been reduced in volume by three quarters, and adds mushrooms, porcini soaking water, and tomato sauce and brings the sauce to a boil. Next she reduces the heat on the stove, covers the pot and lets it simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours. Then she will taste it, season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. These quantities make about five cups of finished sauce.
I just microwaved my portion of the sauce, poured it over my rice, mixed it well, and enjoyed!
A rice mixture makes a great base for any type of sauce, you can also use a pesto such as a mustard green pesto. (Follow the link to see the instructable for this delicious sauce.) By using rice instead of pasta made of refined flour, you are improving the vitamin and mineral content of your meal, increasing the amount of fiber, and decreasing the empty calories from those refined starches!