Mexican Fried Rice is going to be your new go to for a quick, healthy weeknight dinner. Using a kid favorite as the base, this kid friendly dinner is the perfect vehicle to introduce new flavors and encourage adventurous eating. This recipe is super versatile – keep out the cilantro if you want, use ground meat instead of diced chicken, try pinto instead of black beans – mix in what you already have on hand in your fridge and pantry and make it work. This easy dinner takes less than 30 minutes to get on the table if you use rice you cooked previously, and your whole family will gobble it up.
I should admit something – before I started dating my now husband, I was kind of a picky eater myself. I was open to trying new things, but I definitely stuck to a 4 years old’s diet of cheese and carbs because, you know, college.
I’m sure the face I made when Alex first suggested we get Indian was.. well.. interesting.
Thankfully, with a lot of pushing and experimenting, I’ve definitely grown to love and try new things. Do I like curries and masala? No. Do I have a few dishes – okay, 1.5 – that I order from our local Indian place that Alex loves? Yes! I no longer cringe at the idea of trying different cuisines, which I consider a win.
Besides getting my kids eating fruits and vegetables willingly, one of my goals for them is to be adventurous eaters and willing to try new flavors than what they’re used to. But that can be difficult with little kids – it’s so easy to get caught in a safe zone and the next thing you know, you’re serving the same 5 dinners each week and your kids will only eat quesadillas.
Not that that’s happened to me, of course.
My favorite way to get my kids to try a new flavor is to take something they know and love and turn it 180 degrees. One of my boys’ favorite foods is rice – fried rice is pretty much a weekly meal here, both because they love it and it’s super cheap.
Over the next couple of months I’m going to be showing you how to turn kid favorites vehicles for trying something new – first we’re going with fried rice! More specifically, today we’re talking Mexican Fried Rice.
Mexican fried rice is a perfect compromise – most kids like Mexican flavors as is, so beefing up the flavor and adding this new dish to your rotation is simple.
Tips for making Mexican Fried Rice
- You can easily substitute half of the rice for some riced cauliflower to add some extra veggie. My boys rarely notice when I do, and it’s a simple addition. Add the cauliflower when you add your corn and cook through.
- I used white rice here – feel free to use brown rice, but if you’re trying to introduce a new flavor profile, I suggest sticking to what they like. My boys aren’t huge brown rice fans, so for this case I used white rice.
- Use day old rice when making any kind of fried rice for the best results.
- Top with kid friendly favorites like cheese, sour cream, and salsa to encourage them to dig in – mom and dad can top with hot sauce and a squeeze of lime.
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We received a huge stainless steel pan like this one when we moved into our house and use it at least once a day. It’s big enough for a huge batch of Mexican fried rice, but also oven safe so you can toss the whole pan in the oven to keep it warm.
Mexican Fried Rice
Mexican fried rice is the perfect healthy weeknight meal for kids – super customizable to your family’s tastes as simple to add veggies into, your going to love this easy, kid friendly dinner.
Mexican Fried Rice
Mexican Fried Rice is going to be your new go to for a quick, healthy weeknight dinner. Using a kid favorite as the base, this kid friendly dinner is the perfect vehicle to introduce new flavors and encourage adventurous eating.
- .5 red onion diced
- 2-3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 diced chicken breast see notes
- 1 cup black beans
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 3 cups cooked and cooked rice
- 2-3 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp paprika
- .5 tsp cumin
- .5 tsp chili powder
- 1 lime
- 1 small tomato diced
- 2-3 tbs chopped cilantro optional
Heat 2 tablespoon of oil over the medium high heat. Add chicken and onion, and cook until chicken is cooked through and onion is translucent, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic - cook until fragrant.
Stir in beans and corn. Cook until the corn defrosts and add seasonings. Continue stirring until everything is coated, and squeeze in half of the lime.
If the mixture is sticking a lot, add the extra oil before stirring in the rice.
Stir and cook until everything is combined and heated through.
Add tomato and cilantro and salt and pepper is desired. Enjoy!
-You can use any meat you'd like, or omit completely. Sometimes I make this with ground meat and call it 'taco rice' - just make sure to drain the oil before addind the beans and corn.
-Cilantro is optional, since it's definitely a love it or hate it herb, but I believe cooking with herbs often helps introduce kids to more flavors and become more willing to try new things.
If you’re looking to add more veggies, try grabbing some rice cauliflower at the store. It’s sold at my local grocery store both frozen and fresh. Saute it up with the veggies before the wine, and cook about 2 minutes.
Want to get the kids involved?
Use a food chopper to have your kids help your cut up the veggies. Another great thing is having them stir in the cheese at the end (with close supervision if on the stove). Lastly, get them interested in fresh herbs by having them pick the leaves off the stems.
If you’re looking to get your kids to try new flavors, try adding it to something they know. This Mexican Fried Rice is a perfect starting point!
Okay, so tell me – what your kid’s favorite meal? What flavors would you love them to try out? Let me know in the comments!
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