Salt vs. Sugar – Garlic Brown Rice with Broccoli

How many of you are “salty-over-sweet” like me?

I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, even as a kid.  I didn’t crave cake, cookies, and candy like other kids.  That’s not to say I didn’t like those things, but I would much rather have something salty over something sugary.  Don’t get me wrong, the key to my heart just may be the finest bar of dark chocolate you can find.  The truth is, I would always prefer seconds of dinner instead of desert.
With all of the convenience foods out there that are loaded with sodium, people are always looking to find low-salt options, or just omit the salt altogether when possible.  The confusing thing is, sodium is an essential nutrient for our bodies; “essential” meaning our bodies don’t produce it, and so we must obtain it through our diets.  Proper sodium levels support muscle contraction, nerve conduction, and water retention.  Unfortunately, in order to keep shelf-stable foods stable, they have to be completely overloaded with sodium to help retain their color and flavor.  Too much sodium can damage the kidneys and heart.  The good news is, if you make most of your food from scratch, you don’t have to worry about that!  I love savory foods, and I have no shame in adding however much salt I please.  I don’t have to worry about it, because I very rarely eat overly processed convenience foods.  Even something as simple as making your own salad dressing is a great place to start.
For the record, today’s recipe actually doesn’t contain that much salt.  However, if  you’re “salty-over-sweet” like me, I think you’ll love it.  It’s savory, garlicky flavor is so palatable to me, it reminds of my “salt tooth.”  That’s right, I said “salt tooth.”  Bring it, sugar teeth!
A friend of mine gave me lots of fresh thyme and rosemary from her garden.  I used some of it to make garlic and herb olive oil.  Simply add sprigs of rosemary, thyme, or whatever herbs you like, and some cloves of garlic to at least a cup of olive oil in a saucepan over low heat for about 15 minutes (don’t boil, and don’t let it smoke!)  I left the herbs and garlic cloves in the bottle with the oil until it was used up, but feel free to strain it before bottling if you’d like.

Garlic Brown Rice with Broccoli

This is a savory and flavorful dish, great as a side or a meal in itself.
Ingredients:
For the rice:
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp garlic and herb olive oil (any oil will do, but this adds a great flavor!)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (with your fist or the flat side of a knife on a -cutting board)
  • Sea salt
  • 4oz chopped broccoli, florets and stems
  • Roughly 1/4-1/3 cup chopped scallions
Lemon Mustard vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup garlic and herb olive oil (or plain olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Optional add-ins/toppings:
  • Seitan (omit for gluten free)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Crushed cashews
1. For the vinaigrette:  Combine all of the ingredients in jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake until the oil emulsifies into the dressing.  Taste and add more oil or adjust seasonings if necessary.
2. In a rice cooker or medium saucepan, add the water, oil, garlic, and a dash of sea salt.  If using a rice cooker, add the rice and cook until pressure cooking is complete.  If using a saucepan, wait for the water to boil, add the rice, reduce to simmer and cook partially covered until all the water is absorbed and rice is tender, 30-40 minutes (shorter for white rice).  Add more water if necessary.
3.While the rice is cooking, chop the broccoli into roughly 1/2 inch – 1 inch pieces.  Fill a medium saucepan with about an inch of water and bring to a boil.  Put the broccoli in a steamer basket.  Place the basket over the water, cover and steam until the broccoli is bright green and tender, 5-8 minutes.
4. When the rice is finished cooking, combine rice, steamed broccoli, and chopped scallions. Serve with a drizzle of lemon mustard vinaigrette and any desired toppings.
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