With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day approaching, it’s important to take time to consider how our daily activities impact the environment, including the role our eating habits play. There are small changes we can adopt as individuals to help make the planet a healthier place, like shifting our focus from reheating those convenient but ultra-processed prepared meals to cooking from scratch with wholesome, minimally processed ingredients, like fresh Tahiti limes. Don’t worry if your first attempts at home cooking are less than virtuosic; start small with simple recipes like this one for cilantro lime rice, and you’ll hone your skills in no time.
For the uninitiated, Earth Day began in the United States on April 22, 1970 as a day to honor the planet and explore opportunities for environmental protection through activism and teach-ins. Today, it is celebrated worldwide as a United-Nations sanctioned holiday. In communities across the globe, people observe Earth Day by volunteering in gardens, planting trees, and pledging to cut down on water use or food waste. Each successive holiday offers a fresh chance to innovate in service of our planet.
At La Dona, we honor the Earth by using sustainable farming practices not only to boost the world-class quality of the fruits we grow, but also to nurture the soil that makes up our fields, enhance the traceability of our produce, and support the employees who work hard to make sure our operations run smoothly. We are committed to upholding our certified standards for soil protection and promoting biodiversity, as well as protecting workers through social responsibility programming. Here’s where you come into the picture: you can help support sustainable operations by cooking from scratch with ingredients produced on Global Gap Exporter Certified farms like ours. By cooking with whole-food ingredients like our Colombian-grown Tahiti limes, you can cut out some of the energy used in large-scale food processing, while elevating the quality and flavor of your homemade meals. This recipe for herb-seasoned, lime-infused rice marks a great place to start.
Rice is one of the biggest crops grown worldwide, and like many people across the globe, I am a rice fanatic. I eat it just about every day as a base for stir fries, stews, and curries, and, occasionally, as a vehicle for soy sauce. My appreciation for rice grew tenfold when I learned a secret trick for making it extra-flavorful before adding any sauces or toppings: toast it! By browning the uncooked grains in a warm pot before adding liquid, you create a satisfyingly nutty flavor that can’t be achieved with salt, spices, or broth alone. It’s a super-simple step you can incorporate into any savory rice recipe; try it in pineapple fried rice or to spruce up a basic meal of rice and beans. The depth of the toasted flavor also depends on the type of cooking oil you use; cooking with a fragrant oil, like sesame, beats using a more neutral-flavored oil, like canola. So experiment with different bouquets for different cuisines; sesame and peanut oils work wonders in Asian recipes, while extra-virgin olive oil and butter lend themselves well to Mediterranean dishes. Try coconut oil for a slightly sweet breakfast rice, which you can serve like oatmeal with brown sugar, berries, and milk.
My favorite way to utilize the toasting technique is in cilantro lime rice, a bright, citrusy accompaniment to seasoned black beans, grilled white fish, or stir-fried vegetables. The added interest from fresh seasonings like lime, onion, and cilantro allows this rice to complement, not dilute, the flavors of whatever it’s paired with, whether it’s an elaborate dish like Thai coconut curry or just a fried egg and some avocado for a quick weeknight meal. Every Sunday, I cook a big batch of cilantro lime rice and heat up portions throughout the week; it’s a great way to keep leftovers interesting and cut down on weekly cooking time. I prefer to use brown rice, as it contains more fiber and micronutrients than white rice, though you’re welcome to use whatever variety you enjoy. Once you’ve perfected your rice-toasting technique with this recipe, don’t be afraid to branch out with other herbs and seasonings. Try parsley, oregano, or basil stirred into rice cooked with chopped celery, fennel, or ginger. The options are endless! This Earth Day, mix and match your favorite herbs and spices to create a toasted rice dish all your own.