Mommy Lunch: Japanese Spinach with Rice

When your entire morning has evaporated while you made what you thought would be a quick batch of crackers…and you’re still trying to stick to the vegan-before-6 thing, you quickly learn how important it is to have easy and healhty lunch ideas in your back pocket. Otherwise, you end up eating all the crackers you just slaved over!

Sorry kids!

For the past month or so, whenever I have leftover rice waiting in the wings I often grab a bag of frozen greens and have this brilliant lunch ready in a jiffy. If you’re unsure, please know that eating a big glob of greens (unless they were smothered in white sauce) used to be a relatively rare occurance for me. Despite the abundance of green in the photo above, I’m not overwhelmed by the roughage. It’s perfect. In fact, the other night I had it for dinner…after 6 o’clock.

Japanese Spinach with Rice Recipe

This is adapted from a recipe for Intensely Green Spinach with Sesame Seeds in Seductions of Rice by Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid.

For the greens I am currently using a mixture of frozen bagged spinach and mixed greens (collard, kale, mustard, etc.). I toast the sesame seeds 1/4 cup at a time in a skillet over medium low heat and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator in order to have them at the ready.

1 1/2 cups cooked white or brown rice
1 cup bagged frozen greens, loosely packed 
2 teaspoons mirin
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Reheat rice in the microwave. Set aside. In another bowl, defrost and warm up the greens.  Drain any excess liquid. Pour the mirin and soy sauce over the greens and mix to coat. Place greens on top of the rice and garnish with sesame seeds. Serve.

Yield: 1 rice bowl
Prep-time: 5 minutes


Rice and Egg Bowl

Whenever I wake up and stop blogging my life away, I’m going to have to start stalking John Thorne. He’s a food writer that apparently lives only an hour north of me in Northampton, Massachusetts. One of his books, Mouth Wide Open, contains a recipe for Stirred Egg Rice Bowl. Thorne mentions that this type of dish is popular in China, especially for children or the infirm.

This recipe is adapted from Thorne’s only slightly – can’t mess with perfection. I made some attempts to adapt the recipe using brown rice, but it didn’t compare.

1 scant cup water
Pinch salt
Heaping 1/2 cup long grain white rice
2 large eggs, beaten
1 scallion, trimmed and chopped fine
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
Drizzle of soy sauce or oyster sauce, for garnish (optional)

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the rice and turn the heat to low. Cover the pan and allow to cook for 13 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, stir together the eggs, scallion, sesame oil, and rice wine in a small bowl. At the end of the 13 minutes, pour the egg mixture over the rice. Place a folded cloth napkin or dish towel over the saucepan with the lid on top to hold it in place. Cook over low heat for 2 more minutes. Then remove from heat and allow to sit with cover and towel on for 15 minutes.

Stir the egg into the rice and be sure it is adequately cooked. Stirring it usually takes care of any questionable bits of egg by exposing them to just a little bit more heat. Transfer to serving bowl(s) and garnish with soy sauce or oyster sauce, if desired. Serve warm.

Note: Thorne’s favorite soy sauce is this Dark Soy Sauce from Pearl River Bridge. I’m not a soy sauce aficionado, but this is definitely a world apart from Kikkoman. I found it at an Asian grocery store.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Cook-time: 30 minutes


Banana Cakes

[donotprint]I’m not totally sure if this recipe is post-worthy. But my youngest just devoured several of them . I’m sure the chocolate sauce didn’t hurt, but still it is out of character for her to eat several of anything. I think this would be a nice treat for toddlers. To top it all off, I used up an over-ripe banana and some leftover rice. Bonus![/donotprint]



2/3 cup cooked brown rice
1 ripe banana, peeled
1 tablespoon unsalted nut butter (such as almond or peanut)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnnamon
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
Small pinch salt
Butter for pan
Chocolate sauce or chocolate syrup

Place the rice, banana, nut butter, cinnamon, honey (if desired), cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until smooth (about 1 minute), scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Melt butter in skillet coating the bottom. Spoon generous tablespoon-sized portions of the banana mixture into the pan spacing at least an inch apart. Cook the cakes for a couple minutes on each side. Allow to cool before serving (how long depends on your child). Serve drizzled with chocolate sauce or chocolate syrup.

Yield: 12 cakes
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes


Cheesy Sweet Potato Balls

I used up some leftover Sweet Potato Fries to make these.


½ cup cooked sweet potato (with skin)
1 cup cooked brown rice
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 cup cottage cheese
1 tablespoon wheat germ (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place sweet potato, rice, Monterey Jack cheese, cottage cheese, wheat germ and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 45 – 60 seconds or until smooth and a ball starts to form.

Roll sweet potato mixture into tablespoon-sized balls with your hands. Place balls on baking sheet and bake on the center rack of the oven for 15-17 minutes or until the bottoms are golden.

Allow balls to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes. Gently remove balls with thin metal spatula and serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Yield: 20 balls
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes