This thoroughly Thai recipe offers the delicious taste of “take out” fried rice without the unhealthy ingredients. It starts with crisp, fresh vegetables for the traditional color and texture, but the choice of rice is what sets this recipe apart from regular fried rice. Instead of white rice that has been processed to remove the fiber-rich bran and the nutrient-rich germ, brown rice and wild rice, both whole grains, are used.

Brown rice, as an intact whole grain with the germ and the bran, retains the vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Although it is less fluffy and takes longer to cook than the white type, brown rice has a pleasant nutty flavor and chewy texture. Since most people are accustomed to white rice, switching to brown usually takes some adjustment, but it is well worth the effort, especially with the nutritional benefits to be gained.

Wild rice is not actually rice at all, but rather it comes from a grain-producing grass. Like rice, though, it is grown in water and has a similar nutty flavor. Considered a delicious delicacy by many, it adds to the nutritional punch of this recipe.

The garlic, lime, honey, basil, mint and hot sauce set the stage for the unique Thai flavor. It’s the use of the peanut, though, that provides the primary ingredient necessary to complete the pleasing Thai taste.

This versatile legume is thought to have originated in Brazil or Peru. It was later transplanted to Africa by Portuguese explores. Peanuts grow underground and are often referred to as “ground nuts,” as opposed to tree nuts like almonds and walnuts. While their physical properties resemble that of other legumes, their use in cooking more closely resembles that of nuts.

Peanut butter is rich in beneficial monounsaturated fats and its great flavor easily mixes with its companion ingredients. Adding crushed peanuts provides a satisfying crunchy sensation. The end result is a healthy version of fried rice to complement your main meal or for use as a stand-alone dish that you can enjoy as light fare.

Thai Fried Rice with Vegetables – Makes 4 servings.

* 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
* 1 leek, rinsed well and thinly sliced
* 1/2 cup snow peas, thinly sliced
* 1/2 cup fresh green beans, thinly sliced
* 1 cup cooked brown rice (cooked per package instructions)
* 1 cup cooked wild rice (cooked per package instructions)
* 2 tsp. canola oil
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* Juice and pulp of 1 lime
* 1 tsp. honey
* 1/4-1/2 tsp. hot sauce, or to taste
* 2 Tbsp. peanut butter
* 2 Tbsp. minced fresh mint or 2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
* 3 Tbsp. unsalted peanuts crushed
* Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
* Cilantro (as garnish)
* 1 lime, cut into wedges

Place strainer in sink and place carrot, leek, pea strips and green beans inside. Pour boiling water over vegetables for about 12 seconds. Set vegetables aside.

Mix brown and wild rice together.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add vegetables, garlic and rice and sauté until heated through and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Do not “crowd” the pan, cook in two batches if necessary.

Whisk together lime juice and pulp, honey, hot sauce, peanut butter and basil or mint in a small bowl. Add crushed peanuts.

Add sauce mixture to rice and vegetable mixture. Toss well to combine. Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges. Serve as a hot side dish, accompanied by a clear soup or egg rolls.

Per serving: 250 calories, 10 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 34 g carbohydrate, 8 g protein, 5 g dietary fiber, 80 mg sodium.

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