Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cuban Black Beans & Rice



In Cuba, this dish is referred to as "Moros y Cristianos" (Moors & Christians). However, authentic Moros y Cristianos uses white rice, while this healthier version is made with brown rice. So, let's just call it "Cuban Black Beans and Rice".

The little knowledge of Cuban cooking that I have came from the Food Network and Wikipedia and so I can't pretend like I know what I'm doing when trying to replicate traditional Cuban meals. I'm intrigued with Cuban cooking because 1) I've heard people rave and rave about it and 2) the ethnocentric part of me figured it would be like Mexican cuisine, when in actuality it has more in common with Spanish and African styles, based on spice and technique. So, I basically wanted to see what the fuss was about.

Now, traditional Moros y Cristianos typically has pork or beef. I obviously skipped that step, although seitan would make a great substitute. I just used diced tomatoes (which are not usually a part of this dish, but the husband loves them), green bell pepper, carrot, garlic and onion (both sweet during cooking and green for garnish)and a ton of cayenne pepper and chili powder and some hot sauce too. A little bit of cumin. And some fresh parsley from my garden. And, of course, the "frijoles negros" (black turtle beans). Verdict = spicy and all sorts of awesome.

Again, not sure how this stacks up with an authentic Cuban rendition...but in our house it got four thumbs up.

Eat your black beans!

Black beans (like other legumes) are high in cholesterol-reducing fiber. Their high fiber content also prevents blood sugar spikes after meals and rates low on the Glycemic Index, so it is a great meal time addition for those with diabetes and hypoglycemia (or those looking to prevent insulin-related problems). They are a protein powerhouse, so they are great for those working on their fitness, as they boost energy while stabilizing blood sugars, making for more pleasant workouts (especially if you're a girl like me, who feels like she's going to faint after 5 minutes on the treadmill). When combined with a grain (like above) they are a complete protein source and a fat free alternative to other types of protein out there. Finally, they are packed with iron, as one cup of black beans provides 21.1% of your daily iron intake, particularly important for menstruating women who are at risk for iron deficiency and a great alternative to red meat, which is much higher in calories (not to mention gross).

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