The Power Couple: Rice & Beans
Let's take a closer look at the powerful, nutrient-rich combination of rice and beans. This happy marriage has made an appearance in most major cultures around the world, mainly because of the long-lasting health benefits of these two ingredients when combined.
Individually, rice and beans are nutritional staples to any diet. But together, they are a superfood.
Here's why: the body needs amino acids to create proteins- twenty different amino acids to be exact, nine of which we must consume from food as the human body alone cannot produce them. Proteins help the body produce everything from muscle tissue to hormones; from antibodies to red blood cells. Simply put: amino acids are crucial in the success of thousands of physiological processes that occur in our bodies every second of our lives.
Animal-based foods are complete with all twenty amino acids, but vegetables tend to lack one or two of the essentials we need (Exceptions to the rule are quinoa, soybeans and flax seeds!). We can fill this gap by pairing certain vegetables with complementary amino acids together. This is nothing new or innovative- we've been doing it across cultures for thousands of years! Remember: Rice and beans are a lot easier to hunt down and cook than a cow or a chicken.
Hence the appearance of rice and beans in many ethnic cuisines. There are more varieties of this staple dish than there are ways to cook eggs (I'm sure of it!). Popular varieties include: Cajun red beans and rice; Mexican tomato rice and beans; Indian curried chickpea dal; and Southern black-eyed peas and rice, more commonly called Hoppin' John.
Feel free to explore the plethora of whole grains and legumes available to you when developing your own personal brand of rice and beans. Experiment with quinoa and chickpeas, lentils and freekah, butterbeans and barley- the limit is your own imagination!
Chef Pableaux Johnson knows his way around classic cajun red beans and rice, and you can too!