Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday Taste Test Challenge: Near East Wheat Pilaf...Don't Be Afraid of the Bulgur!

One of the changes that we've been making at Casa Garcia as we try to eat healthier and lose some weight is to reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates that we eat. Namely white bread, white rice, pasta, and potatoes. I'm a big believer in moderation when it comes food, so we do eat potatoes once a week or so. The rest of the time, I'm focusing on cooking and eating more brown rice, high-fiber pasta, double-fiber wheat bread, and other whole grains. The "other whole grains" category is where this week's Taste Test Challenge comes from.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a box of Near East Whole Grain Blends Wheat Pilaf on the grocery store shelf. The nutrition info looked promising: 200 calories, 4 grams of fat, and a whopping 8 grams of fiber per one-cup serving (that = 4 Weight Watchers points)! All Near East products are 100% natural and contain no artificial ingredients, no preservatives, and no artificial flavors. The ingredients listed on the box seemed simple enough as well: bulgur wheat, orzo, salt, onion, garlic, and spices. I could pronounce all of the ingredients, which is always a positive sign! I had never actually tasted bulgur before, but I was determined to step outside of my comfort zone and give it a try.

I bought a box and cooked it for dinner that night. It made a FANTASTIC side dish with marinated grilled chicken breast and a simple salad. The bulgar was really tasty...the texture is a bit chewy and the flavor a bit nutty. There was just enough of orzo in the blend to make the dish seem familiar. The spices were well balanced and tasty, and the serving was very filling. In fact, we liked this pilaf so much that I bought another box last week. I think that Near East Wheat Pilaf will become a standard part of my regular dinner side dish rotation.

I especially love it when something that tastes so good is also good for me...that's a win-win scenario in my book! This healthy side dish is PERFECT for those busy work nights when you want to get a healthy meal on the table pronto. It cooks in 25 minutes, which is just enough time to grill some chicken or fish and toss together a salad or steam some veggies.

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