Summertime and the fresh herbs and green beans are plentiful. What’s not to like about that? When the temperatures and the humidity rise, I’m often not interested in eating heavy foods, but we still need to eat and make sure we get enough nutrition to power through our days. Something light that won’t weight me down is usually what’s on the menu. I often take whatever veggies are in season and pair them with a whole grain, and a legume, add in some herbs and garlic and bit of citrus for flavor and bam—-a full meal in one bowl! It doesn’t get any easier than that!
I’m a firm believer in balance when it comes to meal planning. It’s super important to get enough protein, carbohydrates and fat in your diet. So many people these days are shying away from carbs entirely but they wind up tired all the time—-because carbohydrates are equivalent to our energy supply. Of course there are good and bad sources of energy and as long as your carbohydrates are coming from fruits, vegetables and whole grains you will be getting premium energy along with high quality nutrition. It’s not that all carbs are bad for you, or make you gain weight, it’s that you have to choose well and eat them proportionally to the rest of your diet.
Whenever I make a side dish, a salad or even a main dish that has whole grains in it, I try to balance the amount of that grain to the remaining ingredients, always letting the veggies be the star of the show and the grains to play a supporting role. At the end of the day, a good rule of thumb is to get ¾ of your calories (energy needs) from fruits and vegetables and the remaining ¼ from everything else. This is an easy way to eyeball things without using restrictive counting/measuring/withholding methods.
Wild rice is a good source of high quality, gluten-free energy. For starters, it’s slightly higher in protein than most whole grains and is a good source of folate, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. Magnesium-rich foods are known to help regulate metabolism and energy levels. Wild rice is a high-antioxidant food which has been shown to help fight chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease. The high levels of phosphorous have been linked with greater bone density and therefore helps reduce the risk of stress fractures. With a significant amount of fiber, wild rice regulates blood sugar levels and helps to keep your bowels regular. Did you know that wild rice is technically not a grain? It’s a grass!!
Don’t forget that fresh herbs, especially those that come from green leaves are especially nutrient dense. It’s a win-win since they are loaded with flavor as well as high quality nutrition. Did you know that some studies show that parsley offers more health benefits than kale? Some of those include: vitamins K and C, flavonoids that help damaged cells repair themselves, anti-inflammatory benefits shown to help those with rheumatoid arthritis, and it is rich in folic acid which is associated with a decreased risk for heart attacks and stroke.
Another ingredient that’s doing double duty in this recipe is the edamame beans. I like to add them for their texture and color, but let’s not forget that edamame is a naturally gluten-free and low calorie way to add vegan protein, iron and calcium to your diet.
This is a great salad to take to a pot-luck because it is best served at room temperature. I think the flavors enhance a day after it’s made, so it’s a terrific dish to make when you’re having company because it can be made ahead, giving you a chance to enjoy your guests. I think there is enough nutrition in this salad to serve as a complete meal, but nobody would ever know since it’s equally nutritious and delicious.