Adding flavor to brown or white rice
I'd like to bring a grilled chicken breast, brown rice and veggies with me for lunch, but I don't know how to season the rice.
Will a spray or two of I can't believe its not butter be enough? Since rice is already a little calorie dense, I don't want to add many more. The chicken and steamed veggies won't have any sauce and I don't want to eat just plain rice.
How do you guys prepare it with little extra calories?
Low-sodium broth or even fewer calories low-sodium bouillon cubes or granules. Just use a small amount with water and omit any cooking salt you might use. Butter spray will work, but a couple of sprays might not be enough if you want a lot of flavor or a "sauce" like consistency. The rice will likely absorb it all up, but you will still be left with a buttery flavor. I've started buying these little veggie packs by Green Giant. The one I like the most is called "Immunity Boost" and contains broccoli, carrot, and red and yellow pepper strips in a very light garlic/herb sauce. Four minutes in a steampack in the micro, 50 cals for 2/3 cup. I combine a whole pack with rice or lean grilled meat or both. It gives a little bit of sauce and extra flavor, not overwhelming, easy, and few calories. Not the same as using/cooking fresh veggies, but works in a pinch and tastes great.
Another yummy way is to get dried mushrooms. When you rehydrate them, they make their own natural tasty broth, with you can cook your rice in. I LOVE mushrooms and rice. If you have the cals you can add a little parmasean cheese too.
I second jdbcmt's suggestion of bouillion. I use half a chicken bouillion cube in one cup of brown rice + two cups of water... that might be too salty for you, though (it's a lot of sodium, but I unfortunately love salt); you could try reducing it to a quarter of a bouillion cube.
Awesome suggestions! I will definitely try them all. Where do I get dried mushrooms though? What part of the store would that be in? Produce? Seasonings?
Usually in produce by the fresh mushrooms, although some places keep them with the died herbs. The chanterelle are the best.
I don't steam my rice. I add some water,black pepper and cayenne to the rice and let it cook. If you don't add too much water once it's cooked the rice will have taken in all the water.
If I have leftovers I'll chop them up and add that to the rice and water.
If I have veggies that need a light cooking I'll add them to the rice. Brocolli chopped up smallish works for me.
Another good option that I like, as a rice substitute, is whole wheat couscous. It cooks quickly and really absorbs flavors well. I use some chopped garlic and mushrooms to flavor it or else make "confetti couscous" by adding 1-2 cups chopped green, red and orange peppers to it. Adjust the peppers depending on how much you couscous you actually make.
I do this 'cause after a while, you just have had enough rice. It's actually a pasta, a tiny one, so you'd have to look for it there or in the health foods aisle to get the whole wheat stuff. It's the best for you.
I like to add cilantro or light Italian dressing (it only takes a tiny squirt).
I think I mentioned this somewhere else before, but I love to make up a can of cream of chicken/mushroom/brocolli, whatever soup and drizzle a little on top of the rice. It gives it a little flavor and not too many calories. :-)