Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Black Bean Burrito Bowl

You read and hear of so many ways to get healthy in the media, it makes your head spin. The self doubt it brings is terrible, because what you thought was good and right once, suddenly isn't. Do you ever wonder if some marketing gurus are orchestrating all this madness and sitting back and laughing at all of us. The cynic in me thinks so.

I tend to adopt new ideas that are backed with good "scientific" research. I'm not one for fad diets, I've never done Dr Atkins or Dr. TooGoodToBeTrue type things. I try, very hard, to incorporate sensible changes in my diet and I'm a firm believer that humans were made to be active and these bodies are machines. I believe in exercise, however I dont exercise that belief enough!

One such healthy change I've been trying to incorporate in my diet is cutting out wheat gluten. I must vouch for the fact that as soon as I cut back on wheat gluten, I started feeling great! My energy levels are better, the lethargy that comes after a bread laden meal was gone and I felt much better overall. Since then, I have incorporated some bread/wheat back into my life, for sheer convenience as it is difficult to feed this foodie and the foodie's family with seperate meals. Overall, I still try to stay away from too much of it, and if you can handle it, I suggest you try it too.

During my quest to replace my regular meals with gluten-free meals, I started looking for things I could incorproate into my diet. I already love all kinds of legumes, so all sorts of beans were the obvious choice. Then as I started thinking of what I could do with all these beans, I found myself likeing the idea of recreating a burrito bowl at home. We have a chipotle near (far from) us that we go to - but its not an easy place to get to. I really love the fresh flavors, the enormous portions and the great prices there, but everytime I crave their burrito bowl, I have to drive a good 15 mins (if there is no traffic) to get a fix. For someone who is very inefficiently juggling a full-time job, a household and a 2-year old, I just cannot fit in a 15 min drive out of my way.

I also love one pot/one bowl meals. They are so easy to eat and so easy to clean up! I think I might try a few more recipes that fit this category.

So the obvious alternative to the long drive, is to make the burrito bowl meal myself. Ideally, I would've liked to lay out all the different parts of the burrito bowl out and let everyone build their own. But that beats the purpose of a quick (less than 15 min) meal.

As many of you must've been to chipotle, you know the components of this bowl are the black beans, onions and pepper, 3 different salsas with varied levels of heat and corn salad, plus toppings like guac, lettuce, sourcream and cheese. I decided to combine the first few - black beans, onions, peppers and corn to make it a quick meal. I use brown rice as my base for this bowl, but you could go with white (which is tastier, certainly not healthier). Then to that I've added lettuce, salsa and cheese as toppings.
Here is what the bowl looks pre-toppings.

I'll divide the recipe into 3 parts, Rice, Black Bean Mix , Toppings


- 1 can Black Beans
- 1 small onion ( prefer red)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 small Green Pepper
- 1/2 cup Frozen corn
- 2 tsp Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Cumin Powder
- 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
- 1 tsp Corinder Powder
- Salt to taste

- Chop onions and green peppers to similar size.
- Heat a pan on medium, add olive oil and let it warm up a little.
- Crush garlic by the back of your knife and add it to the oil.You don't want the garlic to cook too much or brown.
- Soon after add the onions and peppers. Cover and let the peppers soften.
- While that cooks, put the corn in a microwave safe bowl, add some water and microwave for 3-5 mins.
- Empty the black beans into a colander and wash it under cold water till the water runs clear. (If you are inclined to use the liquid in the can, you could, I sometimes find it has a sticky slimy quality to it that I don't like).
- Add black beans to the pan and then add cumin, coriander and red chilli powder and salt. (all these to taste)
- Add cooked corn
- Cover and cook for a few mins till the beans soften and mix into the onion/pepper/corn mix


Brown or white rice

- Wash brown rice (or white rice) in cold water 2-3 times in a microwave safe bowl.
- Cover the rice in twice as much water and microwave for 20 mins (white rice requires 15 mins)
- The rice grains should be seperated when cooked. If they are mushy, they have been overcooked.

- Romaine lettuce - chopped
- Guacamole
- Tomato Salsa - follow recipe or open a jar
(my easiest recipe includes 2 plum tomatoes, 1/2 red onion, handful cilantro, olive oil, salt and 1/2 lime juice. Add green chillies or jalapenos if you want salsa to be hot. Or leave jalapenos as a topping for others to add as needed. Blend everything in a small food processor or blender for 30 secs. Leave it chunky or blend it smoother.)

- Shredded White Cheddar Cheese or Mozzarella Cheese
- Sourcream (if you are so inclined)
- Jalapenos (see salsa recipe for note on heat)

In a bowl, start with rice, add the bean mix and then add toppings of choice. I've added lettuce, salsa (hot) and white cheddar cheese. On occassion I will make guac, as time permits.
The best thing about the bean mix is, you can double to quantity and refrigerate it. Much easier for the next time when all you have to do is, cook rice, chop some lettuce and assemble a meal. Talk about easy, quick meals for week nights.

Hope you add this meal to your weekly rotation. Let me know if you do!

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