Black Magic Beans + Rice

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I was inspired by the Red Blanket Sauce from one of my favorite food blogs, My New Roots to create a meal that is nothing short of magic. The star of the meal is a savory cacao and tomato-based sauce with a smooth, velvety texture to which I added black beans. In keeping with the color theme, I served it with black rice and pine nuts.

As I have already written here, combining plant proteins such as beans and rice is a great way of making sure you are getting enough protein. I topped the rice with roasted pine nuts to add a healthy fat and crunch to the dish. You could also try topping the dish with coconut flakes or diced avocado or even just some chopped coriander.

Both black beans and black rice are among the healthiest types of beans and rice since they are rich in phytonutrients called anthocyanins. This is what gives them the distinct dark color which can also be found in purple cabbage, blueberries or grapes. These powerful nutrients have a protective effect on the body, helping prevent disease as different as diabetes, allergic reactions, heart disease and cancer. Be careful when you are soaking and cooking them though as the color can stain kitchen counters…

You can use canned red beans and red or brown rice if you prefer – I suppose it would then be called Red Magic Beans + Rice?

Soak the beans and rice overnight to reduce cooking time and make them more digestible.

INGREDIENTS

A bit of coconut oil or ghee

1  onion or scallion

3 cloves garlic

1 can tomatoes (unseasoned)

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp dried thyme or oregano

pinch of cayenne, if desired

4 regular dates or 2 Medjool dates

2 tbsp cacao powder

2-3 dried tomatoes

1 tbsp tahini

2-4 tbsp water

1½ tbsp lemon or lime juice

METHOD

Heat the oil or ghee in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add the spices and stir until you can smell them.

Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the minced garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the canned tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Adjust the seasoning if you need.

In a blender or food processor, combine the rest of the ingredients, then add the tomato sauce when it is ready. Add more water if needed and blend until the consistency is smooth.

Meanwhile, cook the beans and rice separately, according to the instructions on the pack. You can also use canned beans if you prefer.

Heat a little coconut oil, olive oil or ghee in a frying pan on medium heat and fry some pine nuts until they are golden.

Once the beans are cooked, mix in with the sauce.  Serve with the rice topped with pine nuts.

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Black Bean Salad + Plant Protein

Bean salad2I find that beans are one of the most underrated foods. Competing in a world of sexier animal products like meats and cheese, beans are often forgotten. Yet the humble bean is a powerhouse of protein, fiber and antioxidants.

If like me, you don’t eat a lot of animal protein, it’s important to be careful about getting enough protein, and beans are a great option. In my home, humus is a staple and so are different types of lentils, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

A word on plant protein:

Plant proteins are incomplete proteins, meaning they do not have the 9 essential amino acids needed by our bodies to build protein. For this reason, it was thought that different types of plant proteins always needed to be combined to create a complete chain of amino acids. Typical combinations include humus & bread, tortilla & beans, lentils & rice. Recent studies show that as long as you combine various sources of plant protein within a 24 hour window, your body magically combines the amino acids – so if you have lentils at lunch and beans for dinner or are simply eating a good mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, your body has enough to work with from this amino acid ‘pool’.

Black Bean Salad

One of the healthiest varieties of beans is black beans – they are the highest in antioxidants of any bean choice. Cooking them in a pressure cooker if you have one allows you to retain the most antioxidants.

If you are cooking beans from scratch, make sure you always soak them for at least 8 hours, longer if you can – you can also add a strip of kombu seaweed to improve digestibility.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can find out more about cooking beans here.

This recipe is a wonderful way to add more beans to your diet. The combination of beans, pineapple, coriander and cayenne pepper give it an exotic edge while the Swiss chard provides a more grounding, nutrient-rich base.

Ingredients

2 cups black beans

2 handfuls pineapple, small chunks (preferably fresh)

4 stalks Swiss chard

4 large tomatoes

1 red onion

4-5 artichoke hearts – I used frozen but you can also use canned, pickled or fresh

A handful of grilled pine nuts

Coriander

Dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

A dash of sea salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and chili flakes.

Method

Cook beans until tender. Leave to cool.

Chop up all the other ingredients. If you don’t have all the ingredients above, it’s also easy to replace one ingredient for another. Mix everything in a bowl and add the dressing and chopped coriander as garnish.

Enjoy!

Bean salad1