Brown bag meals: Spicy rice & bean salad


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This series of recipes is meant to help busy nurses eat right…especially those who are notorious for skipping meals and then eating unhealthfully when they get a free moment.

And then, fifteen pounds later…

No, we’re not talking about YOU per se. But you may want to print this recipe out, just to avoid the fate of the chaotic eater.


First things first. Preparing some of the ingredients in advance and freezing them in individual servings will speed the process of putting these lunches together. Below is a list of things you can pre-prep or purchase for these recipes:

½ Cup Portions of:

Brown rice, quinoa, barley, millet or amaranth

Whole Grain Pastas: try brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat

Dried Beans: chickpea, black beans, pinto beans, edamame

All of the above can be pre-cooked then frozen in muffin tins (which are close to ½ cup). Once frozen, transferred these to a gallon-size freezer bag. What you don’t use for these recipes can easily be incorporated into a last minute dinner; microwaving for a few minutes, uncovered on a plate or in a bowl is all that is needed to re-heat these.

4 Ounce Portions of sliced, cooked, plain chicken breast

Keep on Hand: olives, capers, frozen spinach, craisins or dried cherries, salsa, pesto, shredded cheese, whole grain croutons, sliced almonds.

Consider buying or pre-prepping some vinaigrettes.

You can also try this Walnut Basil Pesto

Spicy Rice & Bean Salad — 1 Serving (For 4 servings, use these amounts):

½ cup cooked brown rice (2 cups rice)

½ cup cooked beans (suggestion: pinto or black) (2 cups beans)

1 pinch of cumin (1/2 teaspoon cumin)

1 pinch of chili powder (1/2 teaspoon chili powder)

¼ cup shredded cheese (suggestion: cheddar or pepper jack) (1 cup cheese)

½ of a jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced (optional) (2 peppers)

1 cup shredded romaine lettuce (4 cups lettuce)

½ cup diced tomato (2 cups tomato)

¼ of a small white onion, diced fine (1 small onion)

2 tablespoons salsa (1/2 cup salsa)

2 tablespoons of sour cream (1/2 cup sour cream)

Directions For 1 Serving:

Mix all ingredients except for the salsa and sour cream; add these 2 condiments just before eating.

If using rice and beans that you cooked ahead of time and froze, you can pull 1 serving of each from the freezer the night before to defrost overnight before mixing up your salad, or you can defrost gently in the microwave before preparing this salad. You do not want the rice and beans hot, just defrosted enough to break up in order to stir into other ingredients.

Store refrigerated until ready to eat.

Directions for 4 Servings:

Follow mix all ingredients except salsa, sour cream, and lettuce and store in 4 separate containers for 4 lunches. Stir in 1 cup of shredded lettuce, 2 tablespoons of salsa, and 2 tablespoons sour cream into each portion, just before eating.

Next up in Recipes for Chaotic Eaters — Apricot-Turkey Salad with Whole Grains!

Robyn Priebe
Robyn Priebe, RD, CD, is the Director of Nutrition at Green Mountain at Fox Run. A healthy weight loss retreat for women only, Green Mountain at Fox Run offers a proven healthy lifestyle program that teaches how to eat instead of starve, move our bodies for pleasure and physical well-being, and manage stress and negative self-image for health and healthy weights. In operation for 37 years, Green Mountain pioneered the non-diet approach to achieving and maintaining healthy weights. You can learn more at and on their blog at

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