Rice bowls are a grounding, nutritious meal that can be a good way to use up leftover odds and ends from the crisper. Here I went for a seasonal version with lots of detoxifying greens, a couple fortifying root vegetables, some cleansing radishes, a refreshing zucchini and a sprinkle of fragrant edible flowers. Tofu, grilled meat or seafood, avocado and creamy dressings are good add-ons to make it extra filling.Chioggia beets, also known as candy cane beets, are a striped heirloom variety from Italy, named after the fishing village they originated in. They have a lightly sweet flavour without the the earthiness or woodiness of regular beets. Slicing them horizontally reveals their beautiful pattern and can add a fun item to the plate. They, along with watermelon radishes, are some of the best edible garnishes this season has to offer.Watermelon radish is light tasting and only very slightly peppery. It is naturally bright fuscia in the centre and has a thin ring of green around the edge so that it resembles watermelon. It adds a crisp, extra refreshing aspect to rice bowls and salads. They are an heirloom variety of Chinese daikon radish, which is more mild than regular radishes. Even if you do not like the normal red radishes with the white flesh inside, I encourage you to try other varieties. They are a great food to include in the Spring season as they help the body with its natural detoxification processes.Microgreens are seedlings of herbs and vegetables and they are notably more nutrient dense than their fully matured counterparts. Just as sprouts are concentrated nutrient powerhouses, so are microgreens, which are basically planted sprouts that had an extra week or two to grow.The flowers from herbs are edible, fragrant and taste similar to the herbs themselves. These sage herbs are larger than some others and bring some extra colour and flavour to the bowl. Once herbs start to develop flowers they should be cut off as soon as possible because the plant’s energy will be directed to them, away from the leaves, and consequently the leaves tend to become more bitter and less flavourful.Green onion is sharp and fresh but more mild than regular onions, so they are not too overpowering when used raw.Sesame seeds are believed to be the oldest condiment and the first plant crop used for oil. The first record we have of them come from the world creation myth of the Assyrians. As time passed, they were used in several ancient cultures from Babylon, India, Egypt, China, Greece, Rome and beyond for purposes including medicine, oil lamps, ceremonial purification, wound healing, increased energy and perfume. Perhaps a little less excitingly, they are simply used here as a condiment. They offer a nice contrast in colour, a nutty flavour and are a good source of many minerals including calcium, zinc and copper.Freshly juiced limes add in a bright, citrus flavour and a good dose of vitamin C. I love the taste of it combined with tamari, but any preferred vinaigrette or dressing can be mixed in with the rice.
There was an interesting study done in the Netherlands that grouped vegetables and fruits according to their colour. Over the span of ten years they found that produce in the yellow and orange section provided the best protection against Cardiovascular Disease, one of the leading causes of death in the developed world. While this protection was stronger in the more deeply yellow and orange coloured fruits and vegetables, it was strongest in carrots. The study used moderate amounts ranging from around 1/4 cup to 1 cup of carrots a day with the benefits improving as the amount increased. This is great news because it shows that just adding in an extra serving or two of vegetables on a regular basis can have great impacts on our health.
Butter leaf lettuce has silky leaves that are easy to cut and chew, making them an easy inclusion as the base of a rice bowl or any other heartier dish. Starting our plates off with a layer of greens is an easy way to get more in, without having to rely solely on salads. They lighten up the whole dish and add in lots of valuable nutrients. A serving of just one cup of butter leaf lettuce has over one third of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A and over two thirds of the recommended daily amount of vitamin K, along with a range of antioxidants and minerals.
- 1 head butter leaf lettuce
- 1 cup micro greens
- 1 chioggia beet, peeled, sliced thinly and quartered
- 1 watermelon radish, peeled, sliced thinly and quartered
- 1 zucchini, sliced thinly and rolled up
- 1 carrot, julienned
- ¼ cup green onion, sliced thinly
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Optional: 1 tablespoon edible flowers
- Optional: sliced avocado or a drizzle of creamy dressing
- Rice Mixture
- 3 cups cooked brown rice (reheat if cooled)
- 2-3 tablespoons tamari
- ½ lime, juiced
- Mix the rice with the tamari and lime juice in a medium sized bowl.
- Spread the lettuce around to cover the base of two large, shallow bowls. Pour the rice into the middle then top with all the other ingredients.