Nutritionist Lucy Hyland

Red Kidney Bean and Brown Rice salad

February 3, 2024
Posted by Lucy

I know you are probably tired of hearing about carbs but they are crucial to health and especially weight loss.

I often talk about the importance of choosing complex carbohydrates over refined grains. I got several questions back regarding what a complex carbohydrate actually is. Understanding the processing of grains is useful in order to understand the effect it has one your health. So what do we need to know?

There are several terms used and they generally have a similar meaning – complex carbohydrates, whole grains, unrefined carbohydrates. When these terms are used with regard to grains, it means that the grains have undergone minimal processing in order to be consumed. Common grains include oats, wheat, rye, barley, spelt, couscous and rice. All of these can be bought as refined grains or whole grains. Less well known whole grains, which are increasingly being seen on Irish food shelves, are quinoa, millet and buckwheat.

So what happens to a grain when it changes from a whole grain or complex carbohydrate into a refined grain? The outside of the grain is polished off and only the inner piece is remaining. This is great in terms of cooking, for example, white rice takes 10-15 minutes and brown rice takes 40 minutes. However, in terms of health, it’s not so good! 50-80% of the nutrients and fibre are removed, meaning you are basically eating the less nutritious part of the grain. This is where the word ‘empty calories’ from.

So switch to whole grains and see an improvement in your energy levels, waist line and blood sugar levels – now there is a great reason to change!

Red Kidney Bean and Brown Rice salad

Red Kidney Bean and Brown Rice salad


  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice
  • 1 tin of red kidney beans – drained and washed
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1 grated apple
  • 1/4 thinly grated red cabbage
  • 1 clove of garlic – crushed
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • Dash of extra virgin olive oil


  1. Serves 2
  2. To cook the rice, wash half a cup of brown rice and place in a saucepan. Cover with double the amount of water (1 cup) and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for 40 minutes or until rice is cooked. Allow to cool. Flavour rice while cooking by adding ¼ teaspoon of chili, ground cumin or a bayleaf.
  3. Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Perfect for a lunch box or weekend lunch.
  4. Wheat free, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free


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