Adventures in Ethics and Science

Lunch plate audit.

PalMD is trying to eat better (and drop a little weight). Dr. Isis has been offering some advice on what sorts of meals might help Pal cut the calories while still being healthy and satisfying. Pal has been taking the advice to heart, but finds time constraints an impediment to the kind of food he want to be eating.

As you might guess, my work and family situation give me some experience in throwing together meals under time pressure. So I wanted to offer a couple of quick recipes to Pal. But I also thought I’d page Dr. Isis to see if she’d weigh in on the nutritional punch these dishes pack (or don’t).

Here’s my lunch plate from today:


To the extent that there’s a “main course” on the plate, it’s a black bean-wild rice salad; I’ll give my recipe for that in a moment. I accompanied it with some leftover slices of tomato and avocado, a nice portion of last night’s green salad (which includes cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, and red onion) dressed with a drizzle of lime-sesame dressing, and two wedges of watermelon.

Black bean-wild rice salad:

Two 15 ounce cans of black beans (rinse the beans)
One 16 ounce pouch cooked wild rice*
Two cups frozen corn kernels
Chopped onion (about 1/2 cup, red or white or yellow)**
Juice of two limes
About 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or to taste)
About 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
About 2 tablespoons chili powder (or to taste)
About 1 teaspoon ground cumin
A sprinkle of sea salt

Mix it all together. If you have a chance, let it sit in the fridge so the flavors have time to canoodle. If not, just serve once it’s mixed.

*Trader Joe’s sells pouches of fully cooked wild rice, but I don’t know how widely available this product is at other groceries. In a pinch, a 16 ounce package of fully cooked brown rice would work, too. Of course, you could also cook your own wild rice or brown rice; unless you have leftover cooked wild rice or brown rice sitting around, though, this will turn a lightning-fast recipe into a slower one.

**I suspect chopped green onions would also be nice in this salad, but that’s not the way I went today.

If you have a red bell pepper handy, you could chop it up and add it to the salad. If you have jicama handy, you could dice some up and add it as well. Today I was without both peppers and jicama, and it was still really tasty.

While I was making the black bean-wild rice salad, I also threw together another salad for later consumption:


One 15 ounce can chick peas (rinse them)
Three large apples (cored, peeled, and coarsely chopped)
Juice of one lemon
Chopped onion (about 1/4 cup, red or yellow)
Garam masala (about 1 tablespoon, more or less to taste)
A sprinkle of sea salt

Mix it all together. If you have a chance, let it sit in the fridge so the flavors have time to canoodle. If not, just serve once it’s mixed.

I like both of these salads on account of the legumes (which give me protein and fiber in the same compact package) mixed with lively spices and something with a crunchy or chewy texture that contrasts with the legumes. They leave me feeling fed, rather than deprived, and with very little kitchen prep.

Let’s see what Pal and Isis think.


  1. #1 Isis the Scientist
    August 10, 2009

    Lovely and I like to protein in the beans. Well done!

  2. #2 cicely
    August 10, 2009

    The chickpea salad looks good. Do you have any good but not-too-spicy recipes involving kidney beans?

  3. #3 Sandra Porter
    August 10, 2009

    Ooo! chickpeas, apples, and garam masala! All you need are a few serrano chiles and it would be totally excellent!

    thanks for the recipe!

  4. #4 jay
    August 11, 2009

    Eating healthy and deliciously need not be mutually exclusive. Vegetables have a lot of inert flavor in them that you can let out if you cook them right. That said, there are lots of ways to cook veggies deliciously! Try the vegetable recipes at tanya’s site, I liked them!

  5. #5 Peggy L
    August 11, 2009

    Wow, these both look fabulous!

  6. #6 Laura
    August 11, 2009

    Ooh, I would never have thought to combine chick peas, apples, and Indian spices, but that looks lovely. (As does the bean and rice salad, but that’s more familiar to me.) My house is ‘flexitarian’ and I’m always looking for new protein-rich veggie entrees. And the no-cook varieties are especially nice for August in Georgia!

  7. #7 Chris
    August 11, 2009

    That looks delicious!

    Have you ever tried substituting quinoa for rice in the recipe? I doubt Trader Joes sells pre-cooked/easy-to-make quinoa, but it’s an excellent source of protein (with a great amino acid profile) that tastes similar to rice.

  8. #8 CCW
    August 11, 2009

    Quinoa takes, what, 15 minutes to cook? Much faster than brown rice or wild rice and you can also sprout it. I wouldn’t say it tastes like rice, but it would certainly work in the black bean salad with some fresh tomatoes thrown in for good measure.

    Kidney beans are good if you sauté an onion, dried cherries, thyme, a splash of sherry (or vegetable broth) and a bit of chipotle (I suppose you could use sweet smoked paprika if you don’t like spicy) and heat the beans through.

  9. #9 Denis
    August 12, 2009

    Yuck! Where is the meat?

  10. #10 chris
    August 12, 2009

    Which variety of apples do you use?

  11. #11 Catharine
    August 12, 2009

    That looks divine! Neither Bora nor I can cook so almost all of our meals are some kind of take-out. I’ve just quit eating. It may not be healthy, but it saves money and time and I’ve lost 40 lbs. Although I do feel a little dizzy at times…

  12. #12 brook
    August 12, 2009

    Great looking. I really like Moosewood cooks at home (which is vegetarian) and How to eat supper for fast realistic flexible meals.

    We like white beans w/olive oil and fresh sage either hot or cold. Serve in a whole wheat pita w/whatever greens you want to eat.

    I recognize time constraints. Physical and mental So this might not be practical for everybody (or anybody who isn’t doesn’t live in my house) but I use my crock pot to cook beans which is another way to add flavor. Chickpeas cooked in black tea and flavored w/garam masala and chili is fabulous.

  13. #13 Change
    August 13, 2009

    Apples with chick peas and garam masala? I’ve got to try it. 🙂

  14. #14 IrrationalPoint
    August 16, 2009

    One of the things I have found recently is that the impact of joint pain and fatigue (due to health problems) is that many seemingly easy and quick meals are not doable for me anymore because they require things to be chopped, or lots of washing up. I have recently been blogging about a few quick and easy (and healthy) meals I can prepare that involve no chopping at all, and very limited washing up. It’s interesting how disability can shift the boundaries of what is considered “easy”. (This isn’t a criticism, but an observation. The “easiness threshold”, if you will, is highly variable, and what’s easy for one person with one set of circumstances won’t necessarily carry over to another person with another set of circumstances.)

    Having said that, it is possible in the UK to purchase pre-chopped onion (eg, from Tesco and Sainsbury), so the recipes you give above could probably be adapted just a little to give a much easier and much faster recipe! Yum! and thanks!


  15. #15 anon
    October 3, 2009

    It’s always worth pointing out that you do want to be careful with leftover rice. Bacillus cereus is unpleasant, and probably the main reason why it’s often advised to always throw out leftover rice.

    I’m not sure whether boiling rice properly will kill off all B cereus spores. I’ve always assumed, but then Trader Joe’s would hardly be selling it pre-packaged?

  16. #16 Aaron
    March 14, 2010

    Looks great, but I second…where’s the meat?

    Lean protein from animals increases your metabolism and drops your hunger pangs like nothing else! Fruit is healthy but limiting carbs from sugary fruits will always help weight loss. Berries will help keep your blood sugar from climbing too high and that sugar being stored as fat. Good luck!

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