Janel, a Registered Dietitian who follows a vegetarian diet, promotes no-nonsense, plant-based cooking so that eating is both healthful and enjoyable. Janel has a masterís degree in nutrition communication from Tufts University in Boston.

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Janel's Vegetarian Kitchen

by Janel Ovrut, MS, RD, LDN

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The other night I grabbed a rice salad from Trader Joe's for an already done dinner. It was pesto brown rice salad with tomato and tofu bits... and it was delicious!

The container had three servings, and the ingredient list was short and simple with nothing but brown rice, pesto, tomato and tofu. But the flavors combined to become bursting-in-my-mouth good.

It is a perfect lone-dish meal with whole grains, protein and a vegetable.

I enjoyed a night of having dinner already made, but I realized I could have made this salad so simply at home -- and at a much lower price.

So off I went back to Trader Joe's, but this time to pick up the individual ingredients. The jarred pesto I purchased was a bit shocking in the nutrition department: 3 servings per container, 250 calories per serving, and 26 grams of fat (OK, so only 4g of those were saturated).

I decided I'd make this meal light on the pesto, and would add more tomatoes to boost the flavor.

I cooked a very large batch (about 6 cups) of brown rice the night before so it was cold the next day. I mixed in 2/3 of the pesto, which means that for each cup of brown rice, there was only about 85 calories of pesto - much better than the original serving's 250 calories!

I diced about 12 baby roma vine ripe tomatoes and a block of firm tofu and added that to the rice mix and presto pesto! I now have that same-tasting, less-costly pesto salad I enjoyed from Trader Joe's.

There are also enough leftovers to last the next few days, so it'll feel like I bought the pre-made salad all over again!

If you hunger for great meatless recipes, be sure to check out the 700+ vegetarian recipes served up daily right here at Diet.com!

Janel Ovrut, MS RD LDN is a Registered Dietitian who follows a vegetarian diet. She promotes no-nonsense, plant-based cooking so that eating is both healthful and enjoyable. Janel has a master’s degree in nutrition communication from Tufts University in Boston, MA. You can read many more of her blog posts at dinedishdelish.blogspot.com.

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