Meatless Monday: Easy Rice + Beans

Hello and happy Monday!  Today I have a SUPER EASY, super satisfying meatless meal to share with you all in honor of Meatless Monday.   While I do love to cook, most nights I want something quick, healthy, and tasty.  This dish is one of my favorite, easy weeknight meals.

Rice and beans is a staple dish in many parts of the world, and for a good reason!  This combo is cheap but also very nutritious - there's tons of protein and fiber which help you stay full and energized. 

Not only is this meal easy to throw together and super nutritious, but it also makes great leftovers.  I made it yesterday and plan to have it for lunch for the next few days.  Not a huge fan of eating the same thing more than once?  Not to fear!  I've also given you some suggestions on how to serve this dish a few different ways.

Easy Rice + Beans (Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Soy Free)

- 2 cans black beans, rinsed

- 4 cups cooked brown rice (I used 2 packs of the Trader Joe's precooked frozen rice)

- 1/4 large white onion (about 1 cup), chopped

- 1 red bell pepper, diced

- 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped 

- 1 tsp cumin

- cayenne

- salt & pepper

- olive oil

 

Instructions:

Sauté onion in a little olive oil over medium heat until translucent (about 5 minutes). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne (if desired). 

Add black beans and rice to the pot, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Remove the stem and seeds from the red bell pepper and dice.  Wash, dry, and roughly chop the cilantro.  Add red pepper and cilantro to the pot and mix until combined.  That's it!  You are done!

Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  I added some hatch green chile salsa for an extra kick. I also added avocado, because I add avocado to pretty much everything these days

This makes 4 hearty servings (or 5-6 smaller servings).  You can eat as is (bowl style!) or mixed in with some sautéed greens, wrapped in a tortilla, or warmed up with a fried egg (huevos rancheros style).

 

The thing I love most about this whole dish is that it comes together in less than 30 minutes (if you have the rice pre-cooked or buy the pre-cooked version from TJs).  A meal that's quick, healthy, and tastes great - what's not to love?

Do you participate in Meatless Mondays?  What's your favorite easy, meatless meal?

Build an Epic Bowl

As you may have noticed via my photos on Instagram, I really like eating out of bowls.  Like this, this, this, this and this just to spotlight a few.  I know I'm not alone - many vegetarians and vegans turn to the humble bowl as a vehicle for tasty, fulfilling, and diverse meals.  

I was not always this way - I grew up with the standard protein + starch + vegetable meal plate. I found myself turning to the bowl as I began to eat more and more plant rich meals, that don't always fit into the typical "meal plate" formula.  Bowls are such a staple in my diet now that I forget that this was not always how I built meals, which is why I want to share my EPIC BOWL FORMULA with you all today.  Drumroll PLEASE...

What makes an EPIC BOWL?  

GREENS + PROTEIN + GOOD FAT + SPECIAL SAUCE + EXTRA GOODIES = EPIC BOWL

- GREENS - Duh! I try to incorporate greens into as many meals as possible, and bowls are no exception.  If its hot out and I want something light, I'll go with raw greens; If I'm looking for something a little heartier, more warming, I'll do a quick sauté of some greens to mix into my bowl.  I use at least 2-3 cups of greens per bowl. 

- PROTEIN - Protein helps you build muscle and stay full longer, so it's a crucial component of a good bowl.   Contrary to public opinion, you don't need excessive protein, so a small portion is sufficient.  My top protein sources are quinoa, various beans, and lentils (although I also love nuts and seeds, see GOOD FAT bullet below).  I aim for about 1/2 cup of a protein source per bowl.

- GOOD FAT - Yup, fat can be good for you!  It helps you feel satisfied while also fueling your cells with essential nutrients so that they can perform at optimal levels.  Some sources of good-for-you fat are avocado, high quality olive oil, nuts, and seeds.  A little goes a long way - I try to stick with about 1/4 cup (or 2 tbsp) of healthy fats per bowl (which may be included in the SPECIAL SAUCE, see bullet below). 

- SPECIAL SAUCE - I've found that topping a bowl with a special sauce can really take it to the next level and pull all the ingredients together.  This doesn't have to be anything fancy!  Some easy options:  maple syrup + olive oil + lemon juice, hummus thinned out with a little water, pesto, or some good balsamic.   Start simple, then you can begin to experiment with different recipes and ingredients. 

- EXTRA GOODIES - This is what makes each bowl unique and fun!  Add other vegetables, fruits, herbs, etc to give your bowl a complex flavor and diverse nutritional profile.  Here are some ideas:

- Roasted or grilled veggies 

- Shredded raw vegetables (root veggies and cabbage are especially nice when shredded)

- Sprouts

- Thinly sliced red onions

- Fresh herbs (cilantro and basil are my favorites, but also dill, parsley, mint, the list goes on!)

- Raw fruits (apple, pear, or orange slices, berries, mango, pineapple)

- Dried fruit (tart cherries, cranberries, goji berries)

- Cooked grains or roasted root vegetables like sweet potatoes (for a heartier bowl)

- Fermented or pickled vegetables

- Whatever is in your kitchen cabinet  (tortilla or pita chip crumbs? awesome!  leftover dip from last nights party? great! little bit of extra soup you don't know what to do with? YES!  Really, whatever!)

As you can see, the possibilities are endless!  Which I know can be a little intimidating if you are new to the bowl train, so here are some of my favorite combinations for inspiration:

- Fiesta Bowl - Brown rice, black beans, frozen corn, sautéed spinach, avocado + salsa (add crumbled tortilla chips for extra crunch!)

- Spring Greens Bowl - Arugula/spinach, grilled asparagus (or any other spring veggie), frozen peas, sprouts, hemp seeds + drizzle of olive oil & lemon juice

- Hummus Lover's Bowl - Baby kale, chickpeas, sliced cucumbers, olives, roasted red peppers + hummus & lemon for dressing (add crumbled pita chips for extra crunch!)

- Hippie Bowl - Baby lettuce, quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, raw radish slices, sprouts, sauerkraut, avocado + squeeze of lime or lemon

 

Ready to build your bowl?  I'd love to hear what you make in the comments below.  Or even better, show me!  Snap a picture and upload it to Instagram - tag @emilynachazel and #wellnesswithemily .  Can't wait to see your creations!