[Spanish Rice is a great quick and easy side dish that’s vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut-free and yeast-free. Suitable for all stages on an anti-candida diet.]
Over the years, I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with meal planning. Of course, we all know that it’s better for your schedule and your wallet to plan meals in advance: that way, you buy only the groceries you need for that week’s meals, you always have the ingredients on hand that you need, and you end up eating better, too, since you don’t reach for the phone to order in from Hello Fresh.
This week, that’s all changed! And it’s all due to my friend JL Fields’s new book, Vegan Meal Prep: Ready-to-Go Meals and Snacks for Healthy Plant-Based Eating.
Since I started blogging in 2008 (!!), I’ve had the distinct pleasure of meeting JL Fields three times (we met twice when the HH and I visited New York City on two separate occasions, then again at a vegan festival near where we live in St. Catharines, Ontario).
In case you don’t know, JL is the Founder and Director of the Colorado Springs Culinary Academy, Master Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, Food for Life instructor, chef instructor at the University of New Mexico Culinary program, personal chef, career coach and corporate consultant–as well as the author or co-author of 5 books, the host of Real World Vegan Meals and the Easy Vegan radio show, and columnist for the Colorado Springs Gazette.
[My dinner with Spanish Rice: spicy, a bit saucy, and delicious!]
If ever there was a woman who fit the descriptor “powerhouse” in the best possible way, it’s JL!
Multi-passionate with a thriving vegan business in many sectors, JL is also personable, funny, sharp-witted and immensely talented when it comes to creating delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes that appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike. She proved her chops first with pressure cooking, then air frying, and now, in Vegan Meal Prep, how to save time and money and still enjoy varied and tasty meals all week.
If you’ve never done a menu plan, you might assume that meal prepping is the same thing. And if you have done meal plans, you’ll find that JL’s no-nonsense approach is much easier and allows for creativity during the week with ingredients and meals.
The concept is simple: prep major ingredients based on a theme each week, then prep in advance or mix-and-match throughout the week to create convenient, tasty meals when short on time. As JL says in the book’s Introduction, “So, yes, ‘I’m too busy to cook’ folks, this book is for you.”
[Quick and easy, satisfying plate of Spanish Rice.]
After covering some of the basic of plant-powered prep, the book moves to Meal Prep Principles (“start simple,” “set realistic goals” and “experiment with vegan staples”), as well as tips for batch cooking, how to play with flavors that can transform simple ingredients into extraordinary recipes, and a list of JL’s favorite “Go-To Ingredients” so you can get started easily. Part One ends with tips on storage so that your prep can last you through the week and you won’t need to have major cooking time again until the following weekend.
Meal prep and recipes revolve around themes such as “Grain Goodness,” “Beat the Heat,” “Go Green,” “For the Love of Legumes,” “To the East,” “Fiesta Time,” “Beautiful Bowls” and “Back to Basics.” Each prep provides several ingredients that are batch-cooked for the week, plus a list of recipes that are made with those ingredients. You can prep most of the recipes in advance, then simply pull out of the fridge, reheat if necessary, and enjoy a healthful, ready-made breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack.
As with everything JL does, the book is clear, informative, well organized, and engaging to read. The recipes range from basics like Caesar-style Dressing, Cashew Cream, Cinnamon and Spice Overnight Oats or Basic Baked Potato to easy yet tasty dishes like Tofu-Spinach Scramble, Banana-Nut Bread Bars, Tasty Mac ‘N Cheese, Not-Tuna Salad, Tortilla Breakfast Casserole or Cashew-Chocolate Truffles, and some of JL’s more “signature” recipes like White Bean Gravy, Savory Oatmeal Porridge, Risotto Bites, or Peppered Pinto Beans.
While some of the recipes do contain gluten or higher glycemic sweeteners (such as dates) or maple syrup), these are rare, and over 85% are gluten-free. Because the recipes are deliberately created so that you can add or adjust to your own taste, you’ll find loads of ACD-friendly recipes, as well as many nut-free, too.
A perfect example is this Spanish Rice. I made mine with additional jalapeno since the HH and I loooove spice, and it was fabulous. We used it as a wonderful side dish the first night, then added cooked black beans and some chopped chard the next for a full meal.
Reprinted with permission from Vegan Meal Prep: Ready-to-Go Meals and Snacks for Healthy Plant-Based Eating, published by Rockridge Press. Copyright © 2018 by JL Fields
JL says, “This is an easy way to make your brown rice a little more exciting. If you’re a spice-fan, consider adding a diced jalapeno! Serve with the Peppered Pintos or the Red Bean and Corn Salad.”
1 tsp (5 ml) extra-virgin olive oil or 2 tsp (10 ml) vegetable broth
½ cup (120 ml) finely chopped onion
1 tsp (5 ml) minced garlic (about 1 clove)
1 cup (240 ml) short-grain brown rice
2-1/4 cups (540 ml) vegetable broth
2 tsp (10 ml) tomato paste
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) paprika
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) chili powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Sauté the garlic and onion for 3 to 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the rice and stir constantly, allowing the rice to brown just a bit. Add the broth, tomato paste, tomato, cumin, paprika, chili powder, and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat but leave covered for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
3. Divide the rice evenly between 4 single compartment storage containers. Let cool before sealing the lids. Makes 4 servings.
Storage: Place the airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 2 months. To thaw, refrigerate overnight. Reheat in the microwave for 1½ to 3 minutes.
Tip: Make this fast in your Instant Pot or pressure cooker! Sauté the onion, garlic, and rice in the pot as in the direction, in the pot, add the rest of the ingredients (but decrease the vegetable broth to 1½ cups) and cook on high pressure for 22 minutes; use a natural release.
Per serving: Calories: 161; Fat: 2g; Protein: 4g; Carbohydrates: 31g; Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 3g; Sodium: 324mg
Suitable for: ACD All stages; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut free, vegan,.
Disclosure: Links in this post may be affiliate links. If you choose to purchase using those links, at no cost to you, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.
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I love Spanish rice! I grew up eating the boxed kind, so it’s nice to see how easy it is to make from scratch.
Ricki Heller says
Sooo easy, Dianne! We really enjoyed it. 🙂
Becky Striepe says
Ooh I have been wanting to meal prep a bit more, and this looks like the kind of meal I’d actually look forward to eating at lunchtime!
Ricki Heller says
Same here, Becky. It makes meal prepping so clear and easy. I am actually enjoying the process these days!
Are you sure 2 1/4 cup of water is needed for 1 cup of brown rice? I think you meant 1 1/4?
Ricki Heller says
Chris, this is the exact recipe from JL’s book and how I made it. As you can see in my photos, it’s a bit “saucy,” but not too much. When you use broth (as called for in the recipe, not water), then it requires more. If you use water, it might be less. However, since I used broth, I couldn’t give you an exacgt amount for the water! Perhaps JL will weigh in. . . I’ll ask her. 🙂