post-holiday healthy: brown rice with roasted broccolini, feta, and pine nuts + simple salad with green apple

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!  If you’re like me, you may have had a little too much to eat (or drink) around Christmas.  That’s ok–that time is valuable, memorable, and spent with friends and family you love.  However, you might also be feeling a little bloated or sluggish from all of the sweet, heavy holiday food.  When this happens to me, I ask myself what I’m really craving.  After my pure barre session yesterday at 5:30, I felt so much better, and I got this overwhelming urge for broccoli.  YES, broccoli.  I love the taste of roasted broccoli, but wasn’t sure how I should frame the rest of the meal.  When I went to the grocery, I saw some great looking broccolini, which is a long, skinny variety that has tender stems reminiscent of asparagus.  Then I saw a beautiful green apple and delicate greenleaf lettuce.  I remembered that we had some basmati brown rice, picked up some pine nuts for earthiness and feta for tang, and headed on home.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did–you’ll feel great about the fiber in the brown rice and broccoli and you’ll love the taste from the pine nuts and feta.  Yum!

Brown Rice with Roasted Broccolini, Feta, and Pine Nuts

Serves 2-4 entree portions or 4-6 side dish portions

1 cup uncooked basmati brown rice (or regular brown, if you have it on hand)

2 cups water

1 lb. broccolini (1 bundle at the grocery store)

2 Tbsp. olive oil (separated into 1 Tbsp. each)

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced into half-moons

2 tsp. butter

1 sprig of rosemary, chopped (you could also use 1 tsp. dried rosemary)

2 Tbsp. pine nuts (you could also use slivered almonds if you have them on hand)

1/4 to 1/2 cup crumbled feta

Juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper

First, cook the rice according to package directions, set aside, and keep warm.  Heat the oven to 450 F.  While the rice is cooking, chop the broccolini, including the stems, into 1-inch pieces.  In a medium bowl, toss the broccolini pieces, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, red pepper flakes, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper.  Place broccolini in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, tossing once or twice during the cooking process.  The veggies will stick to the pan a little, but this is a good sign that flavor is coming!  While the broccolini is roasting, Heat the other Tbsp. of olive oil with the butter and rosemary in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.  Add the sliced onions and cook until they become translucent and slightly browned on the edges.  Next, add the cooked rice and stir to combine.  You’ll hear a sizzle from the rice hitting the heat, but this is a good thing–some of the rice will crisp up slightly for a yummy texture and flavor.  Next, add the roasted broccolini and stir to combine.  Turn off the heat and add the pine nuts and feta.  Slightly stir, squeezing the lemon juice over the rice, then serve immediately.

Simple Salad with Green Apple

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side salad

1 bunch greenleaf lettuce, roughly chopped

1 green apple, diced

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp. dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. orange or peach marmalade

salt and pepper, to taste

Add the lettuce and diced apple to a large bowl.  Whisk together the other ingredients together and pour over the salad, toss, and serve.

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