Happy New Year! Time to dust off those running shoes, start drinking 8 glasses of water a day, and eat all those healthy foods you’ve been meaning to work into your diet but somehow never make it to the plate… I’m not sure about the you, but I am SO ready to get back on track with eating right. I’ve been on a bit of an “eating healthy break” since Thanksgiving and my body is craving some simple, healthy food. Maybe something like a healthy Mexican rice bowl…
My personal resolution is to eat more plant-based meals. I’ve been incorporating some into our weekly menu for some time now, but I’d like to increase the frequency even more. Eating a plant based diet has been shown to have so many health benefits and, since I love eating veggies anyway, why not focus on meals that revolve around my favorite food group?
So, in light of my resolution, here is a plant based meal to start your new year off right! It is fairly easy to make, it has lots of flavor and it is simply beautiful thanks to all the pretty colors on the plate!
Creating a Healthy Mexican Rice Bowl
One thing I have learned about kids and food is that they love to participate in making meals. Now, that does not necessarily always mean they will eat the final product but it seems the likelihood of them eating it does go up! There have actually been a wide number of studies that proved this correlation stating that exposure and understanding of foods will make kids less “afraid” and more willing to try something new.
Cooking with your kids and teaching them about the foods they are preparing is a great activity and life lesson. Not only are you showing them about new foods but you are also teaching them a life skill- cooking! Oh, and you are keeping them busy and engaged while you make dinner rather than just having them watch TV or hope they find a way o entertain themselves. Making dinner and educating your kids- seems like a win!
My kids really enjoy “making their own” salads or rice bowls. I give them a healthy base to start (think a plate of roasted potatoes, a bed of lettuce or a bowl of rice) and then put out a variety of toppings to choose from. My kids scoop on the toppings they like and get to be totally in control of their bowl (well, I did choose what topping options they have but shhh!). This particular dinner is a combination of a salad and rice bowl, my kids two favorites! And, since they are able to interact and have control over their dinner, clearly this meal is already one of the most requested dinners in my house.
Salad Bowl Recipe
This recipe starts with a hearty serving of fresh leafy greens aka the salad part of the bowl. I buy whatever looks good at the store that day…organic if possible. The blend I used for this particular dinner was kale, swiss chard, and spinach. Almost any greens will work so look for:
- Baby Spinach
- Swiss Chard
- Butter Lettuce
- Anything that is nice and fresh!
Think about what kind of greens your kids will like and go with that. Not all kids will chow down on lettuce and that is perfectly okay! You can adjust and adapt this recipe to suit your family, that is why is is so great! For a while, my pickiest eater would only eat cooked broccoli and turn her nose up at every other vegetable out there. So do you know how I made her Mexican rice bowl? With a big pile of steamed broccoli. She loved it, she got her veggies in and she could still customize the rest of her meal like everyone else!
After the lettuce (or whatever green vegetable you choose) is in the bowl, the next layer is a flavorful brown rice made with onions, celery, garlic, and a good amount of salsa. While it may seem like quite a deluxe rice to be mixing into a bowl, every flavor of it will shine through, making this meal truly amazing. Don’t skimp on the rice!
Black Bean Rice Bowl
The next layer in the bowl is the sautéed black beans. Start with onions and garlic, then add cumin, oregano, and white wine. Throw in a can of black beans and simmer until all the liquid is cooked out and the beans are tender. It really is delicious, and takes black beans to a whole new level.
Just like with the rice, you really want to incorporate flavors wherever possible- that is what makes certain meals so good! Rather than just dumping a can of black beans into the bowl, cooking them with delicious seasoning and herbs is an extra step but it is totally worth it. You’ll see after just one bite.
Healthy Vegetable Rice Bowl
Once you have made the base of the rice bowl (the lettuce layer, rice layer and bean layer), the rest of the toppings are up to you! This is the point when I let the kids add what they like. I offered cut up red peppers, sautéed corn, jalapenos, diced tomatoes, and avocado. I think they added everything except the jalapeno (but my husband and I added a good amount on our own plates so that has to be an option on the table!).
Now that you have an amazing bowl made, just admire it before you take a bite- the color alone in this meal is beautiful, not to mention how incredible easy and affordable it is. Oh, and filling! Who knew a vegan, plant based meal could leave you feeling so satisfied?
If you are looking at this recipe and thinking that it just needs s a a little something extra, you can definitely add grilled chicken, Mexican spiced ground beef or crumbled turkey. While I am enjoying the plant based version of this Mexican rice bowl, you can definitely bulk it up with some meat! Find a few other of my favorite Mexican recipes here.
As for looking at this bowl from a health perspective, this is such a healthy dinner. Just the beans and rice are rich in healthy fats, whole grains, protein, and fiber. Top it off with a wide variety of veggies and you have a meal just loaded with nutrients. It really is a great way to start your new year off right. Enjoy!
- More Simple Mexican Recipes
- 21 Healthy Family Recipes
- Mexican Rice and Beans
- Slow Cooker Mexican Hashbrown Casserole
- Crockpot Shredded Mexican Chicken
This hearty yet healthy dinner will fill you up with an explosion of flavor and a ton of nutrition.
- 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 onion, diced divided
- 1 stalk celery
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped divided
- 1/2 cup salsa
- 1 can black beans
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 2 tbs olive oil, divided
- For the rice:
- Saute 1/2 onion, celery and garlic in 1 tbs olive oil until translucent and slightly browned. About 5 minutes. Add uncooked rice, salsa, and vegetable stock and cook rice covered on low for about 25 minutes, or until done.
- For the beans:
- Saute 1/2 onion in 1 tbs olive oil for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add cumin and oregano, black beans and white wine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer on med-low heat until liquid has cooked out, about 5 minutes.
- Assemble Bowls:
- Start with greens of your choice, add rice, beans, and then top with any or all of the following:
- thawed frozen corn
- chopped bell peppers
- You can easily make the rice and beans ahead of time, even the day before, for this recipe.
- If you want some added “dressing” to add a little something to the lettuce layer, try a lime or cilantro vinaigrette
- Try new toppings to make the meals seem new each time you cook!
- You can easily add grilled chicken breast or cooked ground beef (Mexican seasonings preferred!) if you want this meal to be a little heartier.
- Prep all the toppings ahead of time, wrap them up and store in the fridge. When you are ready to eat, all you need to do is put everything on the table and let everyone help themselves!