Nutrient-rich foods are essential for good health. They provide the vitamins and minerals that enable the body to grow and function properly. 

So, it’s important to incorporate nutritious meals into your diet.

A great example of such a meal is brown rice salad. In this article, we’ll take a look at what makes it nutritious… and then we’ll explain how to make it delicious.

The Nutritional Benefits of Brown Rice

Brown rice is a whole grain, meaning that it keeps the parts of its structure that contain most of its nutrients, making it healthier than white rice, which does not retain them

The many nutrients in brown rice include: 

  • Phytochemicals – chemicals found in plants. They protect the body’s cells from damage. 
  • Essential amino acids – crucial for tissue repair, supporting the immune system and transporting nutrients.
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin) and vitamin B3 (niacin). Thiamin is essential for the healthy functioning of the heart, muscles and nervous system; niacin promotes cardiovascular health.
  • Fibre – supports the digestive system and heart health, and reduces the risk of some cancers.
  • Mineralsneeded for blood, tissues, bone, teeth, muscles and nerves. They also support a healthy cardiovascular system. Brown rice contains magnesium (which is essential to many of the body’s biological processes) and selenium (which plays a key role in the metabolism).
  • Flavonoids – help to reduce the risk of inflammation.

Why Brown Rice Salad?

Brown rice salad is a delicious, nutritious, easy-to-prepare and versatile meal. 

Key Ingredients for Brown Rice Salad

The main ingredients for a basic brown rice salad are:

  • Brown rice. 
  • Fresh vegetables such as cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower and red onion. You can also roast vegetables such as zucchini, pumpkin and capsicum.
  • Leafy greens such as rocket or baby spinach.
  • Herbs such as fresh parsley, dill and coriander.

Optional healthy add-ins include:

  • lean proteins such as grilled chicken, tuna, boiled eggs or tofu 
  • legumes such as chickpeas or lentils
  • nuts and seeds such as pepitas, sunflower seeds or almonds
  • cheese such as cottage cheese, feta or goat cheese
  • fruits such as pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries.

When selecting your ingredients, choosing fruits and vegetables that are in season will add freshness and flavour to your salad. 

How to Prepare Brown Rice for Salad

Here are the steps for preparing the brown rice for your salad. 

  1. Soak the brown rice for at least 30 minutes before boiling.
  2. Rinse the rice in a strainer or colander. 
  3. Place the rinsed rice in a pan of boiling water. The ratio of water to rice is around 6:1 – if you’re cooking 1 cup of rice, you’ll need 6 cups of water. 
  4. Boil the rice uncovered for about 30 minutes (or until it is tender).  
  5. After boiling, drain the water using your colander/strainer. Let the rice rest in a dry pot, covered with a lid and off the heat for about 10 minutes.
  6. Fluff the rice with a fork. 

Crafting Flavourful Dressings 

The right dressing will enhance the flavours of your salad and assist the absorption of nutrients from the vegetables. 

You can make a beautiful dressing from ingredients that you may already have in your pantry. Put them in a clean jar, shake and pour over your salad. Use fresh lemon juice where possible.

Lemon juice and Dijon mustard dressing

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Lemon and soy dressing

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt-reduced soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Assembling and Serving Brown Rice Salad

Here are some tips for assembling a well-balanced salad:

  • Start with a base of greens.
  • Add sources of protein such as eggs, seafood, fish or legumes and lentils.
  • Include a variety of vegetables for nutrients and healthy fats like avocado for richness.

You can serve brown rice salad as a main or as a light side dish. Make sure that greens are hydrated and crisp for a look of freshness. Colourful ingredients such as pomegranate seeds and beetroot will add visual appeal.

Health Benefits of Brown Rice Salad

Brown rice salad is a beautifully balanced meal that brings the following health benefits:

  • The combination of high-fibre and complex carbohydrates helps to regulate blood sugar levels and support weight management.  
  • The fibre helps lower cholesterol levels, while lignans (plant compounds found in brown rice) may reduce heart disease risk factors. Also, the unsaturated fats from any nuts and seeds in the salad will contribute to good cardiovascular health
  • The insoluble fibre in brown rice helps food pass through the intestines, promoting comfortable digestion. It also helps remove toxins from the digestive system, ensuring a healthy gut environment.

Tips for Meal Prep and Storage

Here are some suggestions for including brown rice salad in your meal planning: 

  • Cook a big batch of brown rice to use as a base for salads in the coming days.
  • Prepare a variety of vegetables, proteins and dressings in advance to keep your salads interesting.
  • Serve brown rice salad as a side dish with your main protein. It pairs well with grilled meats, fish or tofu.

If you prepare your salad hours or days before you eat it, store it in an airtight container and keep it refrigerated.

If you are storing any leftovers from your brown rice salad, follow these guidelines:

  • Once you have cooked your rice, let it cool before you store it.
  • Store your cooled rice in airtight containers. It can be kept in the fridge for a maximum of three days; if you wish to store it for longer, it can be frozen for between two and three months.
  • If you reheat the rice, do so until it is piping hot throughout. Only reheat a batch/portion once.

Here are some salad recipes to get you started. Enjoy!

Healthy Teriyaki Chicken Drumsticks With Brown Rice Salad

Healthy Grilled Salmon With Brown Rice Salad

Brown Rice Salad