Rice is a low-calorie and inexpensive food that can be a nutritious part of your next meal. White rice is often enriched with iron and brown rice is packed with several grams of fiber. Rice is simple to prepare and goes with a large variety of other foods and spices and can be used to create a low-calorie meal that your entire will family will enjoy.
Red Beans and Rice
A combination of red beans and rice is a low-calorie way to increase your fiber and protein intake. Adding onions will supply some vitamin C as well. Saute chopped white onion with chopped scallions in olive oil until soft. Add 1 cup of long grain rice and saute until browned. Pour in low-sodium chicken broth and simmer until the rice is tender, about 15 or 20 minutes, note Sue Spitler and Linda R. Yoakam in their book, "1,001 Best Low-Fat Recipes." Add kidney beans about 5 minutes before the rice is done cooking, along with fresh cilantro, salt and pepper. This meal comes in at about 250 calories per serving. Add lean turkey sausage for a few additional calories.
Risotto with Ham and Peas
Risotto uses Arborio rice to create a tender and slightly brothy meal. Susan McQuillan, author of "Low-Calorie Dieting for Dummies," suggests adding ham and peas to create a one-dish meal that supplies protein, fiber and vitamins. Saute chopped onion in canola or olive oil under soft. Add minced garlic and continue cooking for about 1 more minute. Stir in 1 cup of Arborio rice. Add 1/2 cup low-salt chicken or vegetable broth and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding 2 1/2 cups more of broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until each is absorbed. Add lean diced ham and frozen peas, as well as 1/2 cup more of broth. Simmer until heated through and the rice is soft. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve hot. Shredded chicken and bell peppers can replace the ham and peas for a different taste.
Spicy Rice and Pork Soft Tacos
Lean pork can be slow-cooked for several hours and combined with spices and cooked brown rice to create protein and fiber-filled soft tacos. Place a lean pork roast in your slow-cooker and fill about halfway with water. Cook for 6 to 8 hours, until tender and cooked through. Just before the pork is done, combine 1 cup of brown rice with 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup tomato salsa. Simmer until rice is tender. Shred the pork and combine with the rice. Spoon into whole wheat tortillas and top with tomatoes, lettuce, Monterrey jack cheese and additional salsa if desired, to create a nutritious meal for about 300 calories per serving.
Chicken and Rice
Chicken and rice is another nutritious combination that can be an entire meal in one casserole dish. Saute four skinless chicken breasts coated with bread crumbs in olive oil until cooked through. Lay the cooked chicken in a large baking dish. Pour 2 cups of long grain rice around the chicken pieces and add 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth. Chop one white onion and three stalks of celery and sprinkle over the chicken and rice. Shake on salt and black pepper and cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the rice is tender. Serve with corn muffins for a meal that totals about 350 calories.
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- "1,001 Best Low-Fat Recipes"; Sue Spitler and Linda R. Yoakam; 2007
- "Low-Calorie Dieting for Dummies"; Susan McQuillan; 2005
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.