80 Healthiest Foods

In the Spring, I bought a special issue of Time magazine entitled the 100 Healthiest Foods. There is more meat than I would consider “healthy,” including chicken, pork, turkey, halibut, scallops, cod, oysters, “grass-fed” hamburger and steak; salmon and tuna are on the list, but I would consider letting those slide. Other non-plant or processed foods on the list are: whole wheat pasta and wheat bread, eggs, parmesan cheese, goat cheese, full fat milk, cottage cheese, mozzarella, whole fat greek yogurt.

The remainder of the list, about 80 items, are plants and whole grains that I consider nutritious and healthful. I routinely reference the magazine and inventory our dinner or lunch and cross my fingers that we are eating 5-10 of the items from the list. While Swiss chard is not on the list, mustard greens, collard greens, and spinach are, so I feel like I am really deserving of 11, instead of 10! I have no doubt that Swiss Chard is better for human health- than cheese or meat! The following are the ingredients in this Buddha Bowl which are included 100 80 Healthiest Foods, in alphabetical order

  1. Almonds
  2. Avocado
  3. Black Pepper
  4. Broccoli
  5. Brown Rice
  6. Chickpeas
  7. Garlic
  8. Jalepeño Peppers
  9. Peanut Butter
  10. Sesame Seeds


Chickpea Buddha Bowl- strained wild rice

I recently watched an episode of Dr. Oz* about inorganic arsenic in brown rice, and potentially other heavy metals I assume. “Biddi” is only 2 and she has been eating wild rice and brown rice weekly for a year and young children are especially susceptible to the poison. I guess those “healthy” varieties of rice are especially high in arsenic compared to white rice because the husk stores the arsenic.

According to the Consumer Reports data, Lundburg Farms brown rice is lower than other brown rices, but the wild rice variety I regularly buy was not tested; their levels of arsenic in the short grain brown rice was higher than some brands of white rice. Their recommendation, based on arsenic being a known carcinogen, is that children should have only 1 serving of rice OR 1 serving of rice cereal per week. I had just bought Biddi some new cereal to cut the monotony of Shredded Wheat and Cheerios when I learned all of this, and I now realize that Rice Chex cereal tested higher than most brown rices! And she was loving it…I sense a tantrum in the near future.

I am now cooking brown rice completely differently, per recommendations by BBC and the Huffington Post; it is actually easier and faster.

Rice Cooking Method:

  1. I first soak the rice overnight in a 5:1 ratio of water to rice, this reduces the arsenic levels 80%. If I decide to prepare rice for dinner at the last minute, I soak it in water as long as possible, changing the water every 30 minutes or so.
  2. To reduce arsenic levels further, I cook the rice more like pasta, with a 6:1 of water–at a full boil instead of a simmer–which reduces the arsenic 60% in and of itself
  3. Then I drain it in a colander, rather than following the instructions which recommend evaporating all the water.

The texture is a little different with this cooking method; the husks sometimes split slightly, but it isn’t worse per se, just different. It usually cooks in about 15 minutes instead of 45-60 so that is an improvement as far as I am concerned.

I am making an effort to try a wider variety of grains, with varied success. I bought and tried amaranth–in the 100 80 Healthiest Foods list–but it was gummy. I won’t go so far as to say it was a total fail, just that I haven’t perfected it yet. Bulgur is my go-to “meat” in chili, it has the best texture! Quinoa also has higher levels of arsenic than other grains, albeit not as high as rice’s levels. Buckwheat is a great alternative, but it dries out quickly in the fridge so it is not ideal to store for a few days, the same way rice and quinoa save. Chickpea Buddha Bowl- Red Chard


Chickpea Buddha Bowl- Red chard and garlic

Sauttée chard in 1 tablespoon olive oil for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add 3 cloves chopped garlic and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.


Chickpea Buddha Bowl- Chopped Broccoli
Finely Chop a bunch of broccoli
Chickpea Buddha Bowl- Cilantro
Rough chop 1/2-1 bunch cilantro

Chickpea Buddha Bowl- Swiss chard and broccoli

Chickpea Buddha Bowl-Sliced Jalepenos
I like to use a mandolin to slice spicy peppers, to save my fingers from a capsaicin burn

Chickpea buddha bowl- with jalepenosChickpea Buddha Bowl- with almondsChickpea Buddha Bowl

Chickpea Buddha Bowl Recipe

  • Layer 1/2 cup rice in bowl
  • Arrange the next ingredients in individual “pockets,” not combining as a salad
  • Add 1/3 cup cilantro, 1/2 cup broccoli, and 1/2 bunch red chard, sautéed in olive oil and garlic
  • Add 1 tomato, seeded and quartered
  • Add 1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced,
  • Top with 1/2 jalepeño pepper, thinly sliced
  • Top with 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Top with 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • Top with 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and washed
  • Dress with Sriracha to taste and Peanut Dressing
  • Top with avocado rosette

Peanut Dressing (serves 2)

  • 1 tablespoon Sesame Oil or Peanut Oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons Peanut Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1/8 teaspoon each: ground ginger and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves Garlic, grated
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Combine all ingredients and whisk together

Chickpea Buddha Bowl with Avocado

*I will omit any discussion of Dr. Oz as a health expert, because my husband is in the John Oliver/Last Week Tonight camp in regards to Dr. Oz, and I credit him with completely opening my eyes to the right way to eat and what real food actually is! I did further research on arsenic in rice, to make sure this wasn’t a Chicken Little scenario, and what I learned was concerning that I have modified the way I cook rice.

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