Tag Archive: nutrients

(Or: How to make a healthy dinner when you’re tired and feeling lazy)

The other day I was torn by two conflicting desires.  On the one had, I was really in the mood for something healthy for dinner.  On the other, I was feeling really lazy and not in the mood for cooking.  Some time in the afternoon I decided to soak some black beans since they’re healthy, delicious, and practically cook themselves.  (If you’re feeling even lazier than I was, or you just don’t have the time to soak dried beans for an hour or two, you can cheat and use canned.  Just give them a good rinse before cooking them.)

Then I had to decide what to have with the beans, since a pot of beans by itself isn’t really a meal.  Then I remembered that I had a jar full of brown rice in the cupboard!  Beans and rice is a classic pairing, but the dish was still missing something.  I started digging around in the (very full!) freezer and discovered half a bag of frozen corn just waiting to be used up.  Perfect!

I mixed them all together, added some dried cilantro and chili powder, and topped the whole thing with a little grated cheddar, salsa, and guacamole, and dinner was complete!

Beans, rice and corn

And if you’re wondering…yes, the rice boiled over.  It always does.

Beans, Rice and Corn
(serves 5-6) 

  • 3/4c black beans
  • 1/4 bouillon cube
  • 1c frozen corn
  • 1c brown rice
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • pinch of chili powder
  • pinch of dried cilantro
Toppings (optional):
  • guacamole
  • grated cheddar cheese
  • salsa
  • sour cream
If you’re using dry beans, give them a good rinse, and soak them for an hour or so before you plan to begin cooking.  (If you’re using canned, just rinse them off before you start cooking.)  Put your beans in a medium-sized pan on the stove, add the quarter bouillon cube (more or less to taste, but I find them to be really salty), and add enough water to cover the beans by about 3/4 of an inch (less if using canned).  Over medium heat, bring your beans to a boil, and then reduce the heat, cover them, and simmer until they start to get soft.  Then uncover them and continue to simmer until the beans are fully cooked and most of the water has boiled off.  With dry beans, this process should take about an hour, maybe less if you like your beans a bit harder.  With canned beans it will take a lot less time since they’re already fairly soft and you really just need to heat them up.
Meanwhile, put your rice on the stove to boil, and try to time it so that it gets done at about the same time as the beans.  The rice I had takes a good 45 minutes to cook, so I started it not long after the beans went in.  Keep an eye on the rice so it doesn’t boil over and make a mess all over your stove!
When the rice and beans are almost done, thaw the corn in the microwave.  It doesn’t have to be hot–it will warm up plenty when you add it to the beans and rice–you just don’t want it to be frozen.
Once all three components are ready, combine them all in whichever pot happened to be biggest, and season with salt, chili powder, and cilantro to taste.  Top it with any combination of cheese, guacamole, sour cream, or salsa, and enjoy!

Brussels Sprouts

I know, I know, I’ve been neglecting the blog lately.  Unfortunately grad school has been getting in the way of both cooking and blogging.  I owe you some long posts on Thanksgiving and Christmas cookies…but for now, I want to say a few words about brussels sprouts.

Everybody (supposedly) hates brussels sprouts.  But how many of you haters out there have never actually even tried them?  I never had!  I know I always assumed I would dislike them, but until last night, I had never actually *tasted* any brussels sprouts to find out for sure.  But now, having had them, I can tell you that they’re actually pretty good, IF you cook them right.

Luckily, there’s 101 Cookbooks to help you out.  Heidi Swanson’s Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts are tender on the inside, caramelized and slightly crunchy on the outside, and (best of all) topped with cheese.  The golden-brown caramelization is really the key–it adds a whole new dimension of flavor to the slightly cabbagey sprouts.

So go out there and get yourself a little tree of brussels sprouts–they’re all kinds of nutritious, containing ridiculously high levels of Vitamins C and K–and redeem this much maligned vegetable!

The breakfast smoothie is the easy solution for fruit that’s going to go bad if you don’t use it up RIGHT NOW, for that last little bit of yogurt in the container that you can’t figure out what to do with, for getting any variety of healthy nutrients that you may be lacking…you get the idea.  Probably most of you already know how to make smoothies, but it’s a topic worth revisiting because they’re just so tasty!  And they can almost make you feel like it’s summer even as you look out the window at the chilly, pouring rain.

Today I made a smoothie for all of the reasons listed above–I had strawberries in the fridge that really needed to be used up, I need more potassium in my diet but the texture of bananas has always grossed me out, and I had a little bit of yogurt left that I didn’t know what to do with!  So I cut up the strawberries (there were 3), peeled the banana and broke it into pieces, tossed all that in the blender, added the yogurt, a handful of ice cubes, and blended it til it was smooth.  It made one good sized serving (or probably two kid-sized servings).

Speedy, delicious, nutritious breakfast!

And of course you can make it with whatever fruit you have on hand.  Be creative!