With summer officially here on June 21, it's time to get the picnic basket out of storage and pack it with tasty, portable foods.

Picnics originally meant potlucks - gatherings to which each guest brought food. The word later became affiliated with an excursion where food was taken along to be eaten outside.

Picnics always mean simplicity, good food and good times. A hearty salad made with rice, beans and corn is a perfect picnic dish and a wonderful high-fiber addition to your diet.

Dietary fiber - what used to be called roughage - was for years thought primarily to benefit digestion. Recently, however, fiber has been recognized as a key component of a healthful, plant-based diet. Research that links cancer prevention to consumption of whole grains, vegetables and fruits is well documented.

To reduce the risk of chronic diseases, experts recommend eating 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber a day. That fiber should come from vegetables, fruits and beans as well as whole-grain products.

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A salad of rice, beans and corn is a good place to start. These foods are rich in the nutrients and protective phytochemicals that ward off chronic diseases, like cancer, and many health problems, including osteoporosis.

When it comes to rice, brown is the best nutrition choice. Its bran layer is intact, providing more fiber, riboflavin, iron and magnesium than white rice. Enriched long-grain rice is fortified with thiamin, niacin and iron after milling to replace nutrients lost in processing.

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Rice-Bean-Corn Salad makes a filling and tasty main course for a picnic meal. All you need to include is a variety of cut-up fresh vegetables and fruits. Then grab a blanket and head outside on the next nice day.

Rice-Bean-Corn Salad

Makes 8 servings.

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 can (15-oz.) black beans, rinsed and 1 cup corn kernels, fresh, frozen, or canned (drained)
  • 6 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped, drained
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water, garlic, onion, cumin, coriander and salt to boil. Stir in rice, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook about 40 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Transfer rice into a large bowl to cool.
  2. When rice is completely cooled, stir in beans, corn, cilantro and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Garnish with red bell pepper.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
163 calories,
1 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
33 g. carbohydrate,
6 g. protein,
5 g. dietary fiber,
313 mg. sodium
Diabetic Exchanges: 2 Starch