May 19, 2012

Why Millions Of People Are Eating Beans & Rice

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers
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Beans and rice are an inseparable pair of staple foods for millions of people all over the world. Dried beans and rice can both be stored easily for long periods of time, and they are economical because they can be bought in bulk. When combined they offer a complete source of protein and other nutrients without the addition of meat. What types of beans and rice are used varies greatly from black and red beans to brown and white rice. In the U.S., beans and rice are popular in hispanic and cajun cooking, and in most of the southern states as well. When times are hard, it's a delicious complete protein to turn to. So what is a complete protein?

A complete protein or whole protein is a protein that contains all of the essential amino acids.

When you are eating red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy, you are eating complete proteins. If you are a vegetarian, you can also eat complete proteins from certain plants, such as soy, spirulina, hemp seed, amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa.

Protein is essential for many bodily processes, including building and repairing tissue. You use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Plus, your hair and nails are mostly made up of protein. It is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.

Protein is made of smaller components called amino acids, 12 of which are manufactured by the human body. Another 9, called essential amino acids, must be obtained from food.

Foods can be combined to make complete proteins like pairing beans with rice or corn. There are other combinations as well. Beans and seeds, beans and nuts, and beans and grains will form a complete protein. When you eat hummus and pita bread, nut butter on whole grain bread, pasta with beans, veggie burgers on bread, split pea soup with whole grain bread, and tortillas with refried beans, you are eating complete proteins.

Recent studies show that the beans and the grains don't even need to be eaten at the same meal, so if you eat beans for lunch and rice with dinner, you've got yourself a complete protein. You may spread your food combination over a 2-day period. I think everyone eats beans and rice because it tastes so good.


Stuffed Red Bell Peppers
This is an easy recipe and can be made the way you like it. I like red peppers because they are sweeter than yellow or green, but you can use whatever you like. That goes for the kind of beans, mushrooms, cheese, rice, etc.

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onion (chopped)
4 button mushrooms, chopped, including stems
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice (cooked)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 large round red bell peppers
1 cup cheddar cheese (grated)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a skillet, sauté onions, mushrooms, and garlic in butter until tender, about 3 minutes. Add ground beef, chili powder, salt and pepper, and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes more. Add beans, tomato sauce, cooked rice, oregano, and blend together. With a sharp knife, cut the peppers in half lengthwise, through the stem. Carefully remove the seeds and membrane inside. Put a pinch of salt into each pepper half. Stuff cleaned peppers with mixture, packing it into the crevices with a teaspoon. Put any extra mixture in an oiled shallow 9” x 9” baking dish. Place filled pepper halves on top of mixture so they are facing up. Tightly cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes until peppers are tender. Remove and discard foil and top each pepper with grated cheese. Bake about 3 minutes more, until cheese melts. Serve with steamed asparagus with a butter and fresh lime juice sauce, or a nice green salad. Makes 4 servings.

Portuguese Beans and Rice
12 ounces white beans (dried)
4 ounces chorizo sausage (chopped into bite sized pieces)
8 ounces short grain rice
3 ounces bacon
1 onion
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons fresh parsley (minced)
1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
black pepper

Soak the beans overnight for at least 6 hours. Drain them and put them into a pot, covering them with cold, lightly salted water. Add in the chorizo. Cover and bring to a boil then lower the heat and allow to simmer for about an hour until the beans are tender but not overcooked. While the beans are cooking, cook the rice. Set the rice aside. Peel the onion and garlic and chop together with the bacon. Saute them together in a pan with the olive oil. Dice the tomatoes, then add them to the saute pan. Add the bay leaf, parsley, salt and pepper, as well as the red pepper flakes if you are using. Allow to cook on medium heat until the onions are fully cooked. Add the rice to the pan, keep stirring, allowing the rice to soak up all the flavors in the pan for a minute or two. Put the rice mixture into a bowl and stir in the drained beans and chorizo. Makes 4 servings.

Edamame Fried Rice
Edamame is more commonly known as soybean, and is parboiled and quick-frozen, then sold in most grocery stores. It is a major source of protein and has been eaten in East Asia for over two thousand years. Adding edamame to fried rice makes a delicious, healthy meal.

2 cups shelled frozen edamame (or 4 cups frozen edamame in pods)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs, whisked
3 scallions, white and green parts finely chopped
3 cups leftover white rice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons furikake

Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Cook the edamame according to package instructions. Drain, rinse under cool water, and drain again. If you’re not using already-shelled edamame, remove the edamame from their pods. Set aside. Break up the cold cooked rice into smaller clumps as much as possible.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl to coat the base and sides. Add the egg, spread it as thinly as possible, and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes, until cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into bite-sized pieces. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl to coat the base and sides. Add the scallions and stir-fry briefly until aromatic, about 20 seconds. Stir in the rice, breaking apart any remaining clumps with a spatula. Add the edamame and chopped egg. Stir-fry for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the rice starts to turn golden and the edamame and eggs have heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Quinoa Hawaiian
If you have never tried Quinoa, pronounced (Keen-wa), it’s a wonderful whole grain that has a delicate nutty flavor and is easy to prepare. Quinoa is widely versatile and goes well with chicken, pork and fish, and is a complete protein all by itself.

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped dried pineapple
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped and roasted
2 green onions, chopped

In a small skillet, toast chopped macadamia nuts on low heat for about 5 minutes, being careful not to burn them, then set them aside. Next, heat olive oil and sesame oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in quinoa and allow to toast for 2 to 3 minutes, then add vegetable broth, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until all liquid has been absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. Add dried pineapple and fluff quinoa with fork, cover and let sit 5 minutes. Serve hot, topped with green onions and toasted macadamia nuts. Makes 6 servings.

Black Bean, Heart of Palm, and Corn Salad
This is a wonderful salad, full of color and good for you. Serve with steamed corn tortillas, or corn chips to make this salad a complete protein.

1 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 10-ounce package frozen corn, thawed, drained
1 7 1/2-ounce can hearts of palm, drained, cut into
1/4-inch-thick rounds
2 large tomatoes, seeded, diced
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander

Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. (Salad can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Makes 4 servings.

Brown Rice Pilaf with Gingered Corn
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 1/2 tsp.)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cups long-grain brown rice
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Heat sesame oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, and saute 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add ginger, and sauté 1 minute more. Stir in rice, and saute 2 minutes, or until coated with oil, and beginning to turn opaque. Stir in orange juice, 1 1/4 cups water and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cover. Simmer 30 minutes. Sprinkle corn over rice. Cover, and simmer 15 minutes more, or until rice is tender. Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro, and serve. Makes 8 servings.

Black Beans with Garlic Rice
3 15-ounce cans black beans, undrained
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons extra vigin olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Garlic Rice:
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
3 cups long-grain rice
3 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
Garnish: chopped onions, avocado slices, sour cream

Place beans in Dutch oven (do not cook). Saute onion and green bell pepper in 2 tablespoons hot oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet 7 to 10 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir in garlic, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and ground black pepper; saute 1 minute. Add onion mixture, wine, and next 4 ingredients to bean mixture in Dutch oven. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Remove from heat; remove and discard bay leaf. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Drizzle beans with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve over Garlic Rice, and garnish, if desired.

Garlic Rice:
Press garlic cloves gently with side of a knife until lightly crushed but still whole. Saute garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons hot oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat 3 to 5 minutes or until garlic is golden brown; remove and discard garlic. Add rice, and saute 1 minute. Stir in 3 1/2 cups water and salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 minutes or until rice is tender. Do not uncover rice. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Drizzle rice with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and fluff with a fork. Makes 8 servings.

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