Departing from the heavier, more spiritual topics I’ve been focused on over the past few weeks, I wanted to share some recipes today. Specifically, rice-and-bean recipes. Beans and rice are the centerpiece of my family’s diet; my husband and I consider ourselves “flexitarian”, meaning we enjoy meat every now and then but eat mainly vegetarian meals. There are lots of ways to eat vegetarian without having so many beans, but beans happen to work great for our family’s budget, palate, and health. We felt super-validated this weekend when the Wall Street Journal ran an article proclaiming, “The secrets of the world’s longest-lived people include community, family, exercise, and lots of beans.”
We didn’t start out eating beans all the time, but over the past five years I’ve gotten to the point where my dinner planning revolves entirely around different types of beans. I rotate us through mainly black beans, red beans, lentils, and chickpeas, and sometimes add in black-eyed peas, white beans, split red lentils, and whatever else we find at the store. We buy dried beans, which can sometimes be a pain to cook, especially with an electric stove (bringing the beans down from a boil to a simmer usually means I need to have two separate burners going on different heat settings), but I’ve gotten pretty good at it.
A word about, um, digestion … of course beans have a bad reputation here. But it’s all a matter of what you’re used to. If you slowly introduce beans into your diet, taking care to cook them thoroughly, and gradually increase the amount that you eat, you should be fine. If you’re cooking dried beans, be sure to soak them first, in plenty of water, and discard the soaking water before cooking in fresh water.
And one more word, about kiddos: we’ve found beans to be GREAT baby food. When Elizabeth was younger, we’d throw some of our dinner in the food processor and spoon-feed it to her, and she loved it. Now that she self-feeds, we just lightly mash our beans with a fork, and usually mix in some baby rice cereal to thicken it up & make it less messy, and then give her loaded spoonfuls to feed herself. She still loves it! Toddlers are a different story; since many of our recipes involve interesting spices, and toddlers like bland, we’ve had some more battles. But we can often make things more palatable by making sure they’re not too spicy, and by letting Maggie put cheese or plain yogurt on top.
After all that commentary, how about some recipes? I created a Pinterest board to showcase some of our family favorites:
Hope you enjoy these! Let me know if you have any good bean recipes to share!