By Casey Seidenberg
I have a 2-year-old who spends most Saturdays, and I don’t mean just an hour here or an hour there, at her older brothers’ sporting events. Such is the life of a third child, especially one who joined the family almost a decade later than her siblings. Instead of fighting the fact that she eats countless meals on a blanket and not at a table, I am embracing it by compiling a roster of healthful foods that she can eat on the sidelines.
For a food to make my roster, it must meet a few criteria. It must not be messy, as I don’t want to wash her picnic blanket every Saturday. It must be transportable, tasty at room temperature and, of course, healthful. Anyone with a toddler knows how much they insist on doing things on their own, so my daughter must be able to eat these foods without needing to master the art of the fork. And if she is happily feeding herself, I can have one eye on the field, which means I can tell my boys that, in fact, I did see that fabulous play they made.
Brown rice balls match all of these criteria. The brown rice offers iron, B vitamins, fiber and minerals such as manganese, selenium and magnesium.
The sesame seeds are tiny in size, but they aren’t small on nutrition. They provide nutrients that our bodies need for proper functioning, especially calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, Vitamin B1 and fiber. The fibers in sesame seeds have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and prevent high blood pressure.
If made with mashed black beans, they tender a nice dose of protein, too.
So pack these for your next sporting event or road trip, or in your child’s lunchbox. I made these for my daughter’s preschool class and went home with an empty plate.
3/4 cup brown rice 1/4 cup sweet brown rice or sushi rice (see headnote) 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more for the cooking water 1 cup toasted sesame seeds Directions:
Cook the brown rice and sweet brown rice or sushi rice (separately) according to the package directions; if salt is not called for, add 1/4 teaspoon to each pot. Let cool to room temperature; blend the two kinds of rice together in a bowl.
Combine the toasted sesame seeds and the 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons salt in a mini food processor; pulse until finely ground. (Alternatively, grind them using a mortar and pestle.) Spread about half the mixture a plate; reserve the rest for another use.
Moisten your hands with water, then divide the rice into 14 or 15 balls of equal size. Roll each ball in the sesame seed-salt mixture, until evenly coated.
Serve right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
To make life simpler, use the condiment Gomasio (http://www.edenfoods.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=26_48&products_id=104260&eID=j1fegakgkam7arj1e0ba0e7m05) instead of the sesame salt topping. The seaweed version adds a little extra flavor and nutrition. Or for added protein, combine a handful of mashed black beans with the rice before shaping.
The rice balls can be refrigerated in a container for up to 3 days. You'll have leftover sesame coating. which can be used to flavor popcorn or tossed into a pot of lentils or quinoa. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Makes 14 to 15 balls
First published in the Washington Post on Thursday, April 11, 2013.