join me in the kitchen

Brown and Wild Rice Salad with Mandarin Oranges (and Cooking Matters)

Over the past six weeks I have been a volunteer chef for Cooking Matters. If you haven’t heard of Cooking Matters, I suggest you check it out. Their website articulates their impressive mission:

Cooking Matters courses teach family members skills that will last a lifetime and more as they share them with relatives and friends. When families practice what they’ve learned in Cooking Matters courses—how to plan, purchase, and prepare healthy, tasty, and affordable foods at home—they are winning the fight against childhood hunger and protecting themselves from the destructive consequences of poor child nutrition.

Once a week, approximately 15 participants, a volunteer nutritionist, a volunteer assistant, the course coordinator, and myself all gathered to prepare a healthy meal together and discuss nutrition and technique. Each week we focused on something different and each week participants took home a bag of fresh groceries so that they could replicate for their families the meal we made in class. I find the whole idea brilliant!

Spending time with the participants was humbling. Their enthusiasm was contagious and their appreciation obvious.  At the end of the course, each one gave me a big hug and expressed the most sincere gratitude. It was incredibly touching.

Not only was I enthralled by the participants, but also I fell head over heels in love with the Cooking Matters recipes! They exceeded my expectations in the best way possible. Each recipe was interesting, delicious, loaded with healthy grains and nutrients, and easy to prepare. I found myself making several of the recipes over and over at home for my family. (In fact, there is a chicken recipe that I have made four times, yet every time we have eaten it before I have had the chance to photograph it!)

I found this Brown Rice and Mandarin Orange salad to be particularly wonderful. It is a perfect side to a protein, yet stands up well on its own for a vegetarian lunch or dinner. It is very filling and fresh tasting. I jazzed it up by adding one of my favorite ingredients, wild rice, however, using only brown rice works just fine. I left a large bowl of this in my fridge for a week and ate a healthy helping for lunch every day!


If you are interested in reading about other blogger experiences with Cooking Matters you can check out these posts:

Brown and Wild Rice Salad with Mandarin Oranges:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 cup mandarin oranges, canned in light syrup
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Cook both types of rice according to package directions and set aside.

Drain mandarin oranges and reserve juice.

Rinse and chop scallions.

In a medium bowl mix Mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, scallions,
almonds and rice.

In another bowl whisk together lemon juice, mandarin orange juice,
and pepper. While still whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil until dressing

Pour dressing over salad and mix well. Let rest at room
temperature for 10 minutes to allow flavors to combine.


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