5 Healthy Foods I Love: Part 5

brown rice

read part 1, 2, 3, 4

1. Short Grain Brown Rice.

This is the kind of whole grain that sticks to your ribs. It’s plump , chewy, and delightfully sticky. Now, there’s something nostalgically lovely about lightly buttered white rice- the way my PJ scooped it onto my plate beneath saucy pork spare ribs. But I find brown rice to be more lovely on its own. Simply simmered or steamed, it has a sweetness to it, a nuttiness that you want to taste just as it’s meant to be.

For two perfectly portioned servings of fluffy brown rice (200 calories each):

Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small pot. Pour in 1/2 cup dry brown rice, cover with the pot’s lid, reduce the heat to low, and let it simmer for 40 minutes. Do not stir brown rice while it’s cooking- it needs to be undisturbed while it plumps or it’ll more likely stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. When the time is up and the rice has absorbed almost all of the water, fluff with a fork, remove from the burner and cover with the lid until ready to serve.

brown rice

grape jelly (1)

2. Jam. Jelly. Preserves.

I’m a sweet seeker. Jams and jellies sugar me happy many mornings, most often on a deeply toasted english muffin. I find even just a spoonful of fruit spread to be so intensely satisfying that I eat slower just to savor the way syrupy sweet grape jelly slides around in small puddles of butter forming in the crannies of my hot muffin.

grape jelly


3. Strawberries.

Before I fell madly in love with frozen pineapple from Trader Joe’s, my heart belonged to frozen strawberries. Something about the way I’d sit on my sofa, legs crossed with a big bowl of cold strawberries- the way they’d melt and soften in my mouth before mushing sweetly between my teeth. Listen, I don’t want to be the person who tells you that fruit is all the dessert you need in your life, but sometimes it is. Sometimes.

Other times, you need my mother to buy you those cavernous hockey puck-sized sponge cakes from the supermarket and fill them with sugared strawberries and a puff of heavy whipped cream.

strawberry pavlova

chinese food takeout

4. Chinese Takeout: Steamed Shrimp with Mixed Vegetables.

I remember when I first lost 135lbs, I wondered how I’d fit rich Chinese food into my now-healthy lifestyle. It seemed impossibly high in saucy calories. Then I realized something: it doesn’t have to fit neatly. Sometimes, when you want Chinese food, you have Chinese food and you spare no expense. You smile your way through crab rangoon and become General Gao’s least secret admirer, and then you triple dip your egg roll into duck sauce. You realize your fortune must be true, because you’re already deeply happy.

Other times, you realize that what you love about General Gao and things that begin with Sweet & Sour and Kung Pao is the sauce. And then you realize that if it’s really the sauce that makes that chicken and shrimp and stir fry vegetables just swimmingly sumptuous, you’d be content to steam the meat and veg, and spoon sauce generously atop them.

My favorite Chinese takeout exists in this order: Steamed shrimp with mixed vegetables (a bowl of spicy garlic sauce on the side), crab rangoon, an egg roll, and one to two vats of duck sauce, depending on the day and the generosity of my Chinese restaurant.

loose leaf green tea

5. Loose Leaf Tea.

Like many things, you can learn to love tea. I didn’t care for it during most of my life but then I began experimenting with green and black and herbal varieties. I found so many new and delicious blends of flavor. I found out which turned lovely with a spoonful of honey, which called for milk, and which I could drink iced with a splash of lemonade. It’s fun to explore tea in the same way you might explore wine varietals and artisan breads and chocolates.

Treat every new food in the same excited, curious way, and you’ll never be bored.

loose leaf tea

I’m currently sipping yerba mate in the mornings.

What are some foods you can’t get enough of?



38 thoughts on “5 Healthy Foods I Love: Part 5

  1. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat

    I don’t think I’ve ever tried short grain brown rice because the only kind I ever see is long grain! I’ll have to have a look for it this weekend. Right now, I’m loving edamame (still!), white beans, and tomatos and zucchini marinated in balsamic vinegar… mmmmmmm!

  2. ally@GirlVFood

    I dollop jam on top of my oats all the time. And also, my Chinese food order is usually either steamed chicken and vegetables or the steamed shrimp, and I do order a giant vat of duck sauce to go alongside it, so I can ladle it on top. Get out of my brain woman. ;)

  3. Katie G

    I have a question about brown rice. I use tri-ply stainless cookware, and even on the lowest possible setting, those puppies stay HOT. When I bring my rice down to simmer the water has a tendency to keep on boiling. My pots stay so hot that I can’t even bring it back down to a simmer, hence I always have overcooked rice. Any suggestions on how to handle that? Should I cut the cooking time to less?

    1. Crystal

      I’ve always had trouble with brown rice too, but I recently found a new method that I love!

      Use at least 4 cups of water for each cup of rice.
      Bring water to a boil and add the rice.
      Boil uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
      Strain off the water and return the rice to the pot.
      Cover with tight fitting lid and let steam for 10 min.

      I’ve used this method twice and it worked perfectly both times. I found it here… http://pinchmysalt.com/2009/04/06/how-to-cook-perfect-brown-rice/
      Good Luck!

  4. Adrianne

    I love yerba mate tea! When I spent last year abroad in London, I lived off the stuff during long study sessions. It kept me just wired enough to focus, but not so much that I needed to get up regularly and run around the building. It was also super for curbing snackish tendencies.

    Another thing I can’t live without is fresh lemons/limes. They make *everything* better. I always have a few in my fridge.

  5. HootieMcBoob

    I am totally in love with brown rice right now! I made some last night to go along with your recipe for shrimp with spicy garlic sauce. YUM. Also loving blueberries, peaches, corn, heirloom tomatoes, and green beans right now. YAY SuMmmmer!

  6. Sarah@The Flying ONION

    Mmm…yes, tea. I used to be solely a coffee drinker, but lately I’ve been eagerly trying out new brands, flavors and types of teas. They’re practically endless! My latest obsession is pineapple chamomile, which has real chunks of dried, lightly sugared pineapple in the tea bag. Delicious.

    I’m loving this “healthy foods I love” series!! Keep them coming. :D

  7. Crystal

    These posts make me hungry! Here are some of my current favorite foods:
    Cantaloupe and Watermelon – My favorite thing about summer!
    Corn on the cob – A close second.
    Honeycrisp Apple – I can’t wait for Fall!
    Natural Peanut Butter – I took a while to adjust to the natural stuff, but now I love it!
    Roasted Vegetables – Almost every veggie is better roasted with a little olive oil.
    Brown Rice – Goes great with everything. I eat it almost every day.

  8. Megan (Braise The Roof)

    You’re right about the Chinese takeout- it’s really the sauce that gets me every time. Although, sometimes a good ol’ hunk of fried meat doused in the stuff is the only thing that will do, too! I love a simple fruit salad in the summer- and it must have grapes and pineapple in it.

  9. Cindy

    I am currently sipping yerba mate right now.

    I didn’t like it at first but now, and also with that splash of half and half and a wee bit of honey I love it!

    Happy Wednesday!

    1. Alaa

      Jenna,Are your stmmyops still relieved? I just went surfing for info after having a light go on after months of intermittent joint pain and stmmyops almost identical to yours as described. Tonight you have supported my hope that it is the green tea causing the pain. (I am usually a coffee drinker) I guess I will know shortly. I am hoping you are still doing well.

  10. Sharon

    I grew up drinking tea, which probably inspired my latest coffee endeavor. I mix a few tablespoons of the sweetened shredded coconut with my coffee grounds while it brews. It would probably work well with a lovely black tea.

  11. Brooke @ Waiting to Rise

    Well, the foods I’m loving (=craving) now are these:
    avocados (I can’t get enough…in pasta, guac, sammies, etc), oreos (yes, not the healthiest…but for some reason with vanilla ice cream they are so DARN good in this hot ass summer we’re having), homemade pizza (SO much better than take out…my fave is bbq chicken), and last, but not least..bananas (I eat them everyday…cant live without them!)

    Thanks for the post! I used steamed shrimp with mixed veggies when I was losing weight…and now I eat it when I want to remember what its like to treat my body well and feel good about the choices I’ve made since I began my journey to healthier eating…..

  12. Cortney @ Nerd on the Run

    I think we could be great friends with just the loose leaf tea part! ;) Have you ever been to the Queen Mary Tea Room in the U District? It’s my ultimate favorite tea place of all time! Their cherry marzipan green tea is my all time fave! :)

  13. The Chocolate Covered Kitchen

    I’ve been a tea drinker for years, ever since discovering Harney teas (www.harney.com). I love spoiling myself rotten each time I shop from their site. But here’s my latest discovery: drop some bits and pieces of chocolate into the tea as it steeps (especially a rooibus chai). Just a few small pieces can give you that chocolate fix without all the calories.

  14. Caitlyn

    Sourdough bread. (Any bread, really. It’s all lovely and dense and delicious)
    And, like you, saucy caloric chinese food :] i could gorge myself for days on that deliciousness.

  15. Katie

    Considering how much as I love Chinese food, you would have thought it would have crossed my mind to ask for the sauce on the side! Genius.

  16. Carissa

    Peaches by the basketful, every day, all day, until they’re not in season anymore. Also, zucchini and black beans are high on my list right now.

  17. M.J. Jacobsen

    Crab, love it! I love brown rice too!
    I’ll have to ask for the sauce on the side next time, Chinese is my favorite and I order it a lot!

  18. Lisa

    Cucumbers. I LOVE cucumbers. I also love green beans. Brown a little bacon and onions in the pressure cooker, fresh green beans from the garden and cook just until perfect.

  19. Kristina

    Homemade pizza (lots of veggies and garlic oil for sauce), sushi (which I am now craving since I thought about it), and chocolate chip cookies. I have these things fairly regularly, but I always want more the second the last piece is gone. Sadly, none of it is very healthy.
    And I also didn’t like tea for most of my life, but I developed a love for Irish Breakfast during my time on the Emerald Isle in May. I drink Twinings brand with milk and sugar before work every morning. It really helps to wake me up for my 2am shift.

  20. Emily Earl

    I am in love with avocados! Eat one everyday on just about everything. I especially love it on sprouted grain bread with sea salt as a snack:) I also love hummus and love trying new brands and recipes all the time.

  21. Jules

    please please please try bon maman jam. you will feel like your “faux french grandmother” made homemade jam, preserved it and subsequently made the trek from bordeaux just to deliver the most delicious specimen of sugary fruit possible. you won’t regret it!

  22. Kristie

    I just had my first training session for a new job I’ll be starting at a loose leaf tea store. If that didn’t pump me up enough (which it did, the store is awesome!), this just solidified it. Loose leaf is where it’s at!

    Frozen strawberries are my love. As is frozen mango. Okay, just frozen fruit in general is chilled summery heaven. Especially when ever so slightly defrosted, melty and mushy.

  23. SallyBR

    I grew up watching my Grandma sipping her “erva mate” – extremely popular in Brazil, usually we drink it very cold, with a slice of lemon. Grandma would go through gallons of her ice cold tea, and she lived to be 99 years old, healthy (and stubborn) as healthy can be… ;-)

    It’s interesting to see it now getting so popular here – together with a bunch of other Brazilian things like acai, guarana’

    My favorite healthy kick right now is probably farro – love the stuff. And I’ve been using tea in cooking quite often, just bought a book called “Culinary Tea”, that you might enjoy taking a look at. Amazon.com has it. No, I don’t work for amazon.com, and don’t have ANY connections with the author of the book ;-)

  24. Andrea

    i love brown rice!! i usually make the microwaved 1min cups of it, but am really getting more inspired to really cook it like you described here !

  25. Melissa

    Have you tried Trader Joe’s seasonal candy cane green tea? Add a touch of sweetened condensed milk and it’s soooo good! It’s probably one of the top five best things about winter.

  26. Elyse

    I love loose leaf tea but I can’t find anyplace that I can get it for a good price. I love the tea that comes from Teavana but they are so expensive. Any idea’s were I can get some? If it’s a place in Seattle, that’s fine too, I’ll actually be there on my honeymoon in August!


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