Sweet and Spicy Tomato and Kidney Bean Salad

One of the best things about not eating meat is that you can make meals without having to actually cook anything. Just cut, combine and stir. Whether you're in a hurry, feeling lazy or just want that fresh crunch, a plant based diet gives you the freedom to cook without literally cooking. 

Especially as the weather gets warmer, it's convenient to just cut and combine. It's also surprisingly tasty to keep those fresh ingredients in their natural state. 

The textures and flavors are vibrant and exciting. 

A little salt, a little acid, some  fat, a spice or two and you're all set with a delicious meal. 

1 can dark red kidney beans
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 long hot pepper, diced
1 serrano, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls olive oil
2 1/2 tsps salt
1 1/2 tsps crushed pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. 

That's it. You're done. Enjoy your not so hard work.

Flavored Rice

Today I answer the question for myself and everyone else... how many calories are actually in those flavored rice packets. If you eat the Knorr brand, the around 600 for the whole shebang. Not bad. I was more than a little surprise by the numbers. But at about 240 calories per serving and with 2.5 servings per packet that math doesn't lie. Not unless the company is lying.

So one third of the total yield should equal around 200 calories. A hefty portion indeed. Although lately I've been less than impressed with Knorr flavored rice mixes. I dunno if they changed things up, but they seem pretty bland recently. I haven't changed the way I've been preparing them. So I'm a little confused.

I think Carlonia brand offers the most flavor for your buck. They also have the longest cooking times. They are not parcooked. So at least 20 minutes is required. On the up side that gives you ample time to cook a variety of add ins. Like kale, mustard greens or lentils. Sadly around here Carolina doens't offer many varieties. Though the yellow rice mix is awesome. Who doesn't love saffron rice. I like to add some fresh minced garlic and top it with hot sauce.

Rice a Roni also has a longer cooking time, but more flavor for most varieties.

It's best to make your own flavored rice. It's really easy. Just add seasoning to plain brown or white rice. For extra oomph cook rice in vegetable broth. But be careful when adding seasoning to rice you're cooking in broth. Many seasoning contain salt and broth has lots of it already. You don't want overly salty rice. Canned tomatoes, which make a great addition to rice also contain their fair share of  sodium. So factor in all these considerations when assembling your rice concoction.