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  • Emily Van Eck, MS, RDN

Smoky, Crunchy Lunch

jalapeno dressing lunch quick easy meal healthy

that amazing jalepeno cilantro dressing

I got hooked on this recipe one summer volunteering for the Sustainable Food Center in Austin, TX. We were teaching teenagers the benefits of utilizing the local food system, and part of the curriculum was a cooking class featuring this simple, cheap, healthy, crunchy Mexican rice salad. I still make it all the time.

The base of this recipe - whole grain, raw veggies, herb, spice, heat, nut/seed - is an excellent foundation for improvising an awesome plant-based lunch. You can make a big batch and it'll stay good for at least 3 days.


4 cups of cooked brown rice, quinoa, or farro

2 large carrots, diced small

2 medium yellow or green summer squash, diced small

1 stalk celery, diced small

1 cup green beans, blanched and chopped into 1 inch pieces

1/2 cup diced red onion

1/3 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds


Juice of 2 limes

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 - 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced fine

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped


Combine salad ingredients in large bowl and mix well. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake well. Toast pumpkin seeds with a teaspoon of canola oil over low heat until fragrant and turning golden. Pour dressing and pumpkin seeds over veggies and toss to coat.*

*Adding the still hot, toasted pumpkin seeds to each serving right before you eat makes it extra special, but this is not necessary for it to be great.

I feel like a broken record here, but this is also awesome will shredded chicken for extra protein.

Emily Van Eck Nutrition

Meet the author

Emily Van Eck, MS, RDN 

Here on the blog, I use the intuitive eating principles to dispel oppressive diet bs and make cooking easy and joyful. I want food to be pleasurable for you! 

As a registered dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor in Austin, Texas, I helps my clients find joy with food, peace with the kitchen, and feel comfortable in their bodies. 

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