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Protein? What Protein?

By Liz Krieger

Finally, a cooking escapade with only a modicum of drama, and with universally admired results. This time I chose to eschew any real recipe and do two simple things that still intimidated me even though I’d seen my mom do them dozens and dozens of times: Make brown rice and roast some vegetables. Yes, making brown rice intimidated me. For one thing, it needs at least 50 minutes to cook, and my impatience and sudden hunger is legendary. For another, you have to measure out the rice and water. Not hard, but it requires one more step. And then a near miracle happened: I read on the package that you could substitute chicken or veggie broth for the water—and lo and behold, for ONCE, I actually “happened to have some on hand.” I am not one of those people whose pantries are stocked smartly enough so that I have basics like this “on hand.” So it was a shock when I saw it there. I pounced. I added the stock to the rice along with a tablespoon of Smart Balance® Buttery Spread Original—mostly because I realized that every time I’ve had rice and truly enjoyed it, there’s been a little somethin’ buttery added to it.

 

So, amped-up brown rice it was! Brown rice with an asterisk! It was truly easy—rather dummy-proof I’ll admit. While that was cooking, I did one of my least-favorite things: chop vegetables. It wasn’t so laborious this time because I was cutting the sweet potatoes, red potatoes, onions, and carrots into hunks and tossing them directly into a roasting pan. Salt (kosher), pepper and a generous drizzle of the Smart Balance® Cooking Oil. I picked it because of its blend of canola, soy, and olive oils packs 1,140 mg of omega-3s in a tablespoon. I popped the pan in the oven for almost an hour—until the big knuckles of sweet potatoes and carrots were soft but not totally mushy.

 

The oven is a bit of a scary place for me. I simply don’t trust myself to not get burned. After all, I have before. (Flashback to the year I spent living in Paris with an oven that was above my kitchen counter—resulting in some awkward positions and one really bad burn on the tender skin of my upper arm. That was the end of my baking innocence.) So each time I went to test the veggies I went with repidation—wishing I had a six-foot-long pole with which to stir and check. In the end, the rice was perfect: not too gluey but also sticky in the way I like it. The veggies were charred where you want them, and the caramelized sugars in the carrots, sweet potatoes and the onions made them all taste rather decadent.

 

The one thing I realized when I was about to dish it all up? Um, that’s a heckuva lot of starch. I mean, two kinds of taters plus rice? Yikes. So we ate ‘em on different nights with side salads topped with nuts and crumbled cheese, since we didn’t want to be totally protein deficient!

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