Sweet and savory whole grain Pineapple Fried Brown Rice packs fruits AND veggies into one main dish.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for a reason: pineapple season is here! And it’s hard to miss. Pop into the supermarket in December and you’ll probably see a triple-big display of these quirky, spiny fruits, priced at a steal. (I’ve seen them selling for as little as a dollar a pineapple! I’ll take six, please.)
My family can easily polish off a whole fresh pineapple in a couple of days, served with breakfast or tossed into lunchboxes. But this versatile golden fruit shines in a main course, too.
Today we’re sharing with you one of our favorite Asian-inspired, better-than-takeout meals: a sweet and savory Pineapple Fried Brown Rice. Juicy fresh pineapple mingles with hearty chicken, whole grain rice and tender-crisp veggies in a simple sauce flavored with soy sauce, sesame oil and fresh orange juice.
It’s easy to make, and trust me: your kids will be way impressed.
Not only does this meal win major brownie points with kids, it also dishes out great nutrition. Carrots, peas, celery and onions are loaded with fiber and diverse phytonutrients. Whole grain brown rice provides additional fiber and B-vitamins. Chicken and cashews add protein and healthful fats. And of course, pineapple is bursting with immune-boosting Vitamin C.
How sweet is that?
Pick a Great Pineapple
To make the best Pineapple Fried Brown Rice, it pays to start with the juiciest and most-flavorful fruit. It’s not always easy to figure out what a pineapple will look like on the inside when it’s sitting on the store shelf, but here are a few tricks to help you choose the best fruit:
First, heft it in your hand. A heavy pineapple usually holds a lot of sweet juice. (If it feels light for its size, the pineapple will likely taste dry and tart. Bleh.)
Second, sniff the bottom of the pineapple. You should be able to smell that signature pineapple aroma right through the skin. (I take the sniff-test seriously; I won’t buy a pineapple unless it smells like one!)
Third, select a leaf somewhere near the center of the pineapple, and give it a tug. A pineapple that was picked ripe should let go of its inner leaves easily.
The Virtues of Prep
It’s no secret we love meal prep here at Super Healthy Kids. And a fresh pineapple is one of those items that we like to break down as soon as we get home from the store. A bowlful of freshly-cut pineapple in the fridge is fast, easy and inviting to serve, so you’ll be sure to actually eat it, or cook with it!
Here are a couple of other prep-ahead tips for this meal: cook the rice and chicken the day before Pineapple Fried Brown Rice hits the menu. And if you have the time, chop the onions and grate the carrots in the morning, and store them in a mason jar together in your fridge. If you take these steps early, you’ll be able to serve up the final product in under 30 minutes.
That means you can celebrate any old weeknight with this balanced and flavorful dinner. Enjoy!
Looking for more luscious pineapple recipes? Try our Whipped Pineapple Pops.
Pineapple Fried Brown Rice
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 2 tablespoon cilantro
- Place rinsed and drained brown rice in a medium pot with 3 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer, covered, until water is evaporated and rice is tender.*
- Cook chicken breasts.
- Cut pineapple into bite size pieces. Peel and grate carrots, slice celery; chop onion.
- Meanwhile, heat butter in a very large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and grated carrots to the pan, and fry until translucent and tender, about ten minutes.
- Add the celery, and fry a few minutes more, until it’s bright green and tender-crisp.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil and juice from one orange.
- Add the cooked rice to the frying pan along with the cooked chicken, pineapple, peas and sauce. Toss the fried rice to coat it with the sauce, then taste and adjust seasonings. Top with cashews.
- Serve with chopped cilantro as a garnish, and Sriracha sauce for grownups (or kids!!) who like it hot.
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie