Rice is a very versatile and healthy grain that most people stock in their pantry. Whether you prefer white, brown, wild or quick cooking rice, there are lots of ways to use leftover rice creatively and quickly for a nutritious meal, a quick snack, or even a sweet treat.

Replace your oatmeal with leftover rice. Heat up your rice with some milk, brown sugar or honey, cinnamon, and dried or fresh fruit. Top it with some chopped toasted nuts, wheat germ or flaxseed for a nutty crunch and extra nutrition.

Mix rice with an egg or egg whites, grated lowfat mozzarella or cheddar, salt, pepper and any leftover veggies. You could also stir in some frozen or canned corn and/or peas. Form the mixture into patties and either sauté in a tablespoon of EV olive oil or bake on an oiled baking sheet at 375 degrees until lightly browned. You can serve these for breakfast, lunch, or as a side dish. If you have leftover chicken or shrimp chop it up and add to the patties for extra protein.

Add rice to salads for extra flavor and nutrition; especially wild rice, brown rice, or rice pilaf. Simply scoop rice into a small ball and place on top of a bed of greens. Add chopped chicken, shrimp, crab or leftover grilled steak. Chop tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, olives, or roasted peppers and add to the salad. Drizzle with your favorite light dressing and serve as a healthy yet filling main course.

Stir leftover rice into your soups, stews and casseroles to make them stretch farther and for texture, nutrition and heft. You can make a quick fried rice by sautéing onions, peppers and finely diced carrots in canola oil, then adding the rice and cooking until golden brown. Stir in an egg or two and add some frozen or canned peas. Add a dash of soy sauce and serve alone or with your main dish.

Leftover rice can create a quick dessert. Make a chocolate rice pudding with chocolate soymilk or lowfat chocolate milk. You can also make a delicious fruit rice pudding that has less sugar. Use less sugar than the recipe calls for and add pureed peaches, nectarines or mangoes for a sweet and fruity touch. If you can’t find fresh use canned fruit in its own juice.

Leftover rice can save a lot of time and trouble in the weekday kitchen. Next time you cook up some rice for dinner make sure you make a double or even triple batch. It keeps well in the fridge and you’ll have it on hand to whip up something delicious.

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