Easy, Healthy Entrée: Brown Rice, Sweet Potato, and Puy Lentils with Hemp Seeds & Vinaigrette

by Gena on August 1, 2012


As you have probably noted, one of my favorite things about being in DC this year is having proximity to my friend Anne. I adore our dinners and chats for so many reasons: first, because we share so many interests (how many food bloggers do I know who also used to be editors?), second, because we can transition from goofy to serious within moments, and last, because we’re both experiencing the crazy journey into healthcare: Anne, as a dietetics and public health student, and me, as a post-bacc, pre-med.

Anne and I love to try new restaurants together, but tonight, we really just wanted to cook. We live close to each other, we’re both students (read: on a budget), and we love creating fast, easy recipes anyway. This morning, over email, we did a quick fridge inventory together.

Anne: mixed greens, spinach, string beans, tomatoes, salsa, canned beets, 2 sweet potatoes, dry lentils, brown rice, brown rice noodles, chia seeds, slivered almonds, nutritional yeast, coconut oil, hemp oil, olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar… etc etc.

Gena: greens, zucchini, cooked green lentils (probably 2 cups or so?), romaine lettuce, arugula, cherry tomatoes, nuts and seeds galore, leftover odds and ends, including red pepper, broccoli and snap peas, and fruit.

What would you have made?

We pondered it a bit, and decided to use my cooked lentils and Anne’s sweet potatoes, and make a sweet potato, lentil dish, and brown rice dish with hemp seeds and gingery vinaigrette, along with some sort of beet, string bean, and arugula/spinach salad. Anne said she would start cooking the rice/potatoes whenever she got home from work, and I said I’d bring the lentils, arugula, and hemp seeds. And we agreed that if the rice was too much of a hassle, we’d still with a sweet potato and lentil salad instead. Healthy food, fuss free.

And so this hearty dish came together. Anne got home from work, and started cooking the rice and prepping the potatoes. I brought over my veggie odds and ends, hemp seeds, and arugula.


The element we needed to unite both dishes was a great dressing. In the interest of saving time, we decided to use the same dressing on both the salad and in the lentil/potato dish. We’re both big fans of hemp oil (can’t beat the healthy, Omega-3 rich profile), and so we decided that would be our fat source. Anne said she had a great recipe (which I share below, with her permission), and we went with it: balsamic, lemon, hemp oil, dijon mustard:


It was fantastic! I’ll have to imitate it often.

For our salad, we did a simple mix of arugula, beets, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper. I chopped. I cradled it fondly. I love me some salad. Just look at that smile.


And here is Anne, brightly showing off our food (as well as her I <3 Kale shirt) !


The dishes were both fantastic, but I’m mostly so happy the lentil, sweet potato, and rice dish turned out well. Hemp has a strong flavor, and I wasn’t sure it would “marry” seamlessly with the rest of the dish. It did, and I’m so glad.


Look at all that good stuff! Here’s Anne taking a photo (she caught a similar one of me—oh, the lives of food bloggers):


And here is how you, too, can make this meal.

Brown Rice, Sweet Potato, and Puy Lentils with Hemp Seeds and Vinaigrette (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Serves 4

2 cups brown rice, cooked
2 sweet potatoes, cubed and steamed/boiled
2 cups puy lentils, cooked
1 1/2 tablespoons dried rosemary
1/2 large zucchini, steamed and chopped

For the vinaigrette:

1 part hemp oil
1 part balsamic vinegar
Squeeze of lemon
Dijon mustard (for about 4 tbsp each oil and vinegar, we used about 2 tbsp, give or take)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

1. To make the vinaigrette, whisk it all together till it tastes good! Kitchen intuition.

2. Then, pour over the rice, potatoes, zucchini, lentils, and rosemary. You may not need all of the dressing, so use your intuition here, too. Anne and I are both pretty intuitive cooks :)

We also used the dressing on our salad, which was bright and lovely.

So tasty!

The trick to the dish, obviously, is having the cooked rice, beans, and lentils on hand. It feels tough if those aren’t ready. I soak lentils and cook a big batch nearly every weekend (the cooking time is very short when you do this—about 20 minutes), and Anne whipped up her rice while she was waiting for me to arrive. If you’re semi-organized about prepping, the meal itself is speedy as can be. Again, I can’t say it enough: use any off time you have to make grains and legumes. They’re relatively hands off while they cook, and you can use them for 3-4 days, or freeze them!


My plate. Love the color!


And Anne and I each have a packable lunch now; that’ll come in handy when I’m on the train to Blogher 12 tomorrow!

Even when you’re tired from a long day of physics and/or a dietetic internship, healthy food is within your reach. Hope you enjoy this recipe, which (for the record) is incredibly filling (in a good way) from the healthy fat and complex carbs.



And that’s it for tonight! Tomorrow, the second my class ends, I’m off to Blogher’s Health Minder Day in NYC, where I’m going to share my thoughts on dedication vs. obsession. A topic I think I know plenty about, and I can’t wait to learn from my wonderful fellow panelists! I’ll be sharing a full recap of the day, plus further thoughts surrounding this topic, next week. And (appropriately, I think), I’ll have a Green Recovery post for you guys tomorrow.

Till then,


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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Averie @ Averie Cooks August 1, 2012 at 10:32 pm

love the pics of you and Anne – one of my fave pics of all time of you! you look radiant!

and love anne with her 50mm getting.the.shot.

And gorgeous food, too! Sweet potatoes and that balsamic vinaigrette, mmmm, so good!


K August 1, 2012 at 11:33 pm

you are SO beautiful!


Gena August 2, 2012 at 9:29 am

That is so kind!


Sana August 1, 2012 at 11:34 pm

You look so lovely in this picture :)


Gena August 2, 2012 at 9:30 am


Thank you sana!


Lindsay Loves Veggies August 1, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Wow! You ladies are creative! It’s hard to come up with something un-boring to eat based just on what’s already in the fridge! I’m certainly impressed. I’ll have to try out the combo next time I pick up some sweet potatoes!


Alexia @ NamasteYoga August 2, 2012 at 2:42 am

cooking with a friend who is into the same style of eating and lifestyle overall can be so relaxing and fun! my friends are always busy it seems and when we meet we rather go out for drinks and dinner than make the effort to cook at home. I love to cook for others anyways though so i often just invite them over! :) love your salad, so many flavours and so nutritious!


janet @ the taste space August 2, 2012 at 5:49 am

Cooking with friends is one of my favourite things to do!! Plus, beans, grains and veg are my favourite combo! A simple dressing definitely ties it all in together and I can’t wait to try this. :)


Anne P August 2, 2012 at 6:19 am

Aw, love this post! So much fun last night – we really need to do that more often. I love going out to restaurants, but I love having a friend that I can whip up a casual meal at home with even more. The best part was that it was a totally collaborative, stress-free effort. Next time, nut cheese is happening!

Wonderful seeing you and excited for Saturday! xo


Gena August 2, 2012 at 9:31 am

Agree on all counts! Can’t wait for Saturday, and let’s make that a tradition :)


Tricia August 2, 2012 at 6:29 am

Wow! I adore lentils and rice together! I’ve never tried it with sweet potato and I definitely should now. Thanks for the recipe :)


Ellen Allard (Gluten Free Diva) August 2, 2012 at 8:46 am

What could be better than cooking with a friend!


Evan Thomas August 2, 2012 at 9:20 am

What I would have given to be a fly on that wall. With you two, it had to be a fun night.


Gena August 2, 2012 at 9:28 am

:) yeah we tend to have a good time.

As I’m sure you can imagine. Hilarity abounds…


Fiona Young August 2, 2012 at 9:42 am

Looks awesome! I know this is random and unrelated, but would you be willing to share what shampoo and conditioner you use? Your hair looks so soft and healthy!


Gena August 2, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Sure! I use Hugo Naturals for both :) It isn’t always so manageable (it was a less humid day in DC!!!), but the shampoo does keep my hair healthy.


Fiona August 10, 2012 at 3:44 am

Thak you so much for that! I will have to try it now. :)


L.A. August 2, 2012 at 10:52 am

How do you store your cooked rice and lentils? I find that they dry out after being in the fridge for a day.


Gena August 2, 2012 at 8:20 pm

I have noticed that with rice…which is probably why I cook less of it at a time, or I mix with a dressing before storing. With quinoa and legumes and barley, I never have a problem.


Juicingpedia August 2, 2012 at 11:33 am


Where did you get that shirt. We love it. Recently we have been focusing a lot on kale. It is so good and healthy. Thanks for wearing it and spreading the importance of kale.

Does anyone have any amazing facts that they would like to share with us/me about kale?


~Garret (Juicing Blogger @ Juicingpedia)


Anne P August 2, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Thanks! It’s from my blog’s t-shirt shop: http://fannetasticfood.spreadshirt.com/


Lisa @ The Raw Serenity August 2, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Loved this post!
Having grains and beans cooked on hand to be organised is something I must do more often!
Looks like a fun night :)


Christa @ Edible Balance August 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm

You two are adorable :) Such fun! The dish looks absolutely delicous!

I made a huge batch of quinoa the other day for stuffed peppers and used the leftovers for your lemon basil quinoa salad, I love how versatile quinoa is! Pretty sure I’ll be making a breakfast out of the rest tomorrow :)


Half-Crazed Runner August 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Hmmm. Never tried hemp seeds or oil. I see you post about it a lot and I just read in SCAN’s Pulse how beets help with endurance. Looks like I’ve go to try something out. Thanks for the post!


Lauren August 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm

You look just glowing in that pic! True testament to what a plant-based diet, following your dreams and living out your passions can do for one’s spirit xo


Ashley August 5, 2012 at 9:38 am

That dinner looks super yummy and healthy. It’s so hard sometimes to use the pantry ingredients up. I always forget what I have!
I love both yours and Anne’s blogs, I’ve been following both of you for a whole and you’ve both inspired me.
I’d love to meet up with you guys sometime!


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