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beans, rice, avocado: the perfect protein trifecta

This post was inspired by a Facebook chat I had this morning with a vegetarian cousin, who says she’s hungry all the time. A common issue among veggie-lovers, I imagine. Enter beans, rice, and avocado.

In my nutrition class taken almost 10 years ago, I learned a valuable lesson about beans and rice that I have committed to memory ever since. Individually, grains and beans are lacking essential amino acids (i.e. protein building blocks), but when combined, beans and rice complement each other and become a complete protein. An affordable, complete protein.

When you throw on some avocado and lime juice (for fat and acid), sprinkle on pepitas (for crunch and more protein) and herbs like cilantro if you have them, the humble beans and rice become–by this blogger’s estimate–a complete, satisfying, perfect, filling vegetarian meal. If you wanna go totally overboard, grind some coarse smoked salt on top (we get it at Trader Joe’s. What’s new right? I should be their spokesperson!).

When I’m really starving, I make a hefty mug of tea (my current favorite being rooibos) and some crusty bread and butter to go alongside. Have we discussed the wonderdiferousness of Kerrygold Irish butter made from grass-fed cows? Because we should. It is amazing. So much so that I find myself standing in front of the open fridge, trying to figure out what I can spread it on. AH-mazing.

In the past when I’ve looked for a fast vegetarian meal, I often turned to my cabinet for a bag of Vigo black or red beans and rice (aside: my favorite package is the Santa Fe pinto beans and rice with corn). I was content to pull out a prepackaged bag until my recent from-scratch kick, when I decided to take the longer but healthier route and cut out the processed ingredients. Now that I have eaten dried beans cooked to plump perfection, there is no going back.image

beans and rice and other goodies
serves 4-6

the beans:
1 lb. (2 c.) dried beans (I prefer the ones called simply “small red beans”), cooked and drained
1 c. onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, cut in half
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. Cajun seasoning (I use Emeril’s Essence recipe
1/2 tsp. salt (note: there is also salt in Emeril’s seasoning above)
1 tsp. pepper

the rest:
1 pot of wild rice (about 1 c. to start with)
smoked salt (optional)
lime juice or hot sauce (not optional, needs acid)
handful of pepitas

Soak beans overnight in 8 cups of water; drain. Saute onion in olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven until browned. Add remaining ingredients (through pepper), cover with water, and cook over very low heat until tender and most of the liquid is gone, about 2-3 hours. The garlic will practically disintegrate it gets so soft.

If you work during the day, this is a great recipe to throw in the crock-pot. Soak the beans straight in your crock-pot, then in the morning drain, add new water, and cook them on low for a few hours. Easy, right?

Soaking beans isn’t actually that difficult, which makes me ponder yesterday’s guest post about the swapping of convenience for simplicity. What did you think of Molly’s take on simple living? I completely agree with her that I find great satisfaction in replacing the fast convenience of processed food for the slow patience of real food. If you plan out your meals in advance, using dried beans doesn’t need to feel much slower.

The same goes for wild rice, which is my absolute favorite even though it takes nearly an hour to cook. I typically make a big pot right before I go to bed on Sunday (making sure I leave enough time for it to cool prior to refrigeration), and then all week we have nutritious rice. Trust me when I say you can’t beat the toothiness and wholesome satisfaction of plump home-cooked beans, nutty wild rice, buttery avocado, and crunchy salty pepitas.

Editor’s note: This post is part of Sunday SchoolReal Food WednesdayFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysSlightly Indulgent TuesdayMonday ManiaFrugal Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Freaky Friday, and Fight Back Friday

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