For a Complete Protein Meal, Make This Rice n’ Beans Recipe on Repeat
Believe me, I’m not feeling smug about being prepared for the situation in which we all currently find ourselves, but I do know that by stocking a few simple ingredients away (okay more than a few) I am now prepared to not leave my house for the foreseeable future. I also know that because most of my ingredients are rice and beans, and more beans, I will not be under-nourished or unsatisfied. I could live on rice and beans every night for weeks, even longer. My favorite standby meal is both easy to make, delicious to devour, and perfect for fueling your body with the exact balance of "complete protein," meaning it contains everything your body needs to function, which is essential right now.
What is a Complete Protein?
In case you don’t already know, a complete protein contains a full lineup of nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t create—so we must get them from what we eat. In addition to whole grain and bean combos, you can also get protein from plant sources like nuts, lentils, and seeds, however, most of those protein sources alone are "incomplete" proteins. For more on the importance of consuming complete proteins, click here.
Basically here is what you need to know about proteins: Each protein in our body is made up of 20 amino acids, and 11 of those we can create in our systems, but the other nine we need to get in our food. So that is where the word "essential" comes from since it's essential that we eat them on a regular basis.
Brown Rice Is Half the Equation
Cultures all over our planet consume rice as a staple of their diet, and with good reason: it's cheap to grow, easy to cook and filling to eat. Most opt for white rice. But since we have the luxury to choose, brown or wild rice has more fiber and nutrients than white rice, so I
recommend brown rice with your ride and beans. It’s unprocessed and contains both the bran and germ that makes it a complex carbohydrate, so it takes your body longer to break it down, and keeps your insulin response lower. This is just the kind of nutrient-dense food you want to add to your plate. I also enjoy brown rice’s nutty taste and chewy texture.
Black Beans Are the Other Half
We still live in a democracy, last I checked, so you can choose any beans you like. My preference is black beans. I enjoy the flavor, the bittersweet chocolate color, the cooked consistency, and the way they look piled on brown rice, topped with green things like cilantro, parsley or even avocado slices (eater's choice).
For a little kick, add pickled jalapenos or coriander chutney, (which fell in love with in India) but chopped scallions and/or a spritz of lemon or lime also brighten up the dish. There are different schools of thought regarding how to cook beans. I lean heavily on the soaking side. This means soaking grains and beans in a large mixing bowl, cover with hot water and let sit for eight to 48 hours.
Most people suggest soaking overnight (about eight to 12 hours) before cooking. Then rinse your beans thoroughly before cooking. To learn more, check out The Beet's Ultimate Guide to Soaking and Sprouting Beans and Grains Yup; it does take time, but one of the good things about having them night after night is to just always keep a bowl soaking!
Want to Use Canned Beans? Totally Fine
No worries if you’re not a soaker or if you haven’t planned ahead: You can make Good Ole Rice n’ Beans with canned beans in about half an hour, which is how long it will take to cook your rice. If you do use canned beans try adding:
- One thinly sliced shallot, since they pack a lot of flavor
- One or two grated garlic cloves
- A generous amount of cumin, a miserly pinch of cayenne
- Salt-- depending on how much your canned beans contain—taste first
These ingredients will also add lovely home-made flavor to your soaked and cooked beans. Add in when most of the water has cooked out.
Good Ole Rice n’ Beans is a complete protein and also a comfort food that may be eaten from a bowl with a spoon while you stand over the kitchen sink. For a
more formal meal, pair with avocado slices splashed with hot sauce and/or a
refreshing salad. A simple orange always makes a nice dessert.
Plate. Dig in. Rejoice.
Good Ole' Rice 'n' Beans Recipe to Make on Repeat
Instructions For the Brown Rice
I’ve been cooking and eating brown rice for decades but I only recently learned that a bit less water than the traditional two-to-one ratio eliminates any sogginess. If there’s a vegan on earth who does not know how to cook brown rice, here's my favorite method:
- About 1 ¾ cups water
- When water boils, add some salt, and 1 cup of brown rice. I learned to stir it just once at this point. I don’t know if there’s science behind this method or if it’s a hand-me-down hippie myth.
- Reduce heat to a slow, steady simmer, and cover. Check now and then.
- I follow my nose. When I smell rice it’s usually done. If you smell burning rice:
- Let rice sit a few minutes, and then fluff with a fork.
Instructions For the Beans
- Soak one cup o’ beans in two cups water overnight in the fridge, or about 8 hours at room temp. When the beans have doubled in size and all the water is gone, you’re good to go.
- Toss the soak water, and put the beans in a pot with about two inches of fresh
water to cover.
- Add aromatics: a bay leaf and/or a garlic clove.
- When the water boils, add salt, and reduce heat to a slow, steady, simmer.
- Cook for about an hour. (Cooking time varies depending on how old the beans
are.) If water gets too low just add more. Taste: when the bean is tender, it's done.
- Strain the beans but please please please don’t toss the cooking liquid. It’s filled
with flavor and will add soul to any stock.