Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bean Heaven

We had one of my signature easy-to-make, inexpensive-yet-healthy meals the other night: black bean tacos (AKA bean burritos or bean tostadas - depending on what's in the house).

I've been making this for about 20 years now. It has always been a favorite even before I really knew it was healthy; I just have always loved beans and fresh produce. Plus it was super easy to make back in the day when I traveled quite a bit and lived by myself.

Now that I have a family, it has become a go-to favorite for a different reason: the kids love it and can help make it in about 10 minutes. And everyone eats it up - seriously, every single time. And if you're a parent, you understand my emphasis on every single time.

A few healthy tidbits about this recipe:
  • Beans are low in fat and cholesterol, yet high in fiber; plus they contain essential iron, B vitamins and protein; a great meat substitute for me and my semi-vegetarian kids
  • We use whole grain tortillas (Central Market's are really tasty and a good choice); or, for a change, I use packaged flat tostada shells (Old El Paso makes decently healthy ones; or you can make your own by toasting corn tortillas)
  • I sometimes add rice to boost nutrition (brown rice provides even more fiber and vitamins; plus, beans combined with rice makes a complete meatless protein)
  • I set up a burrito bar so everyone can make their own - usually with cheese, greens, heart-healthy avocado, and chopped up cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, red bell peppers, etc.
  • I use salt-free spices such as cumin and chili powder, plus fresh lime juice, to season the beans
  • To decrease the sodium found in canned beans try this technique: drain each can in a colander, then rinse twice with cold water; you can decrease sodium content by 50%
  • I have never measured anything for this recipe; I just throw everything in a bowl and season to taste
  • We always add fresh fruit on the side for a super-healthy meal
Have fun changing up the type of beans you use, as well as the spices and veggie/cheese fillings. Your family might enjoy more gourmet or spicier versions than we gobble down at our house.

Susan's Black Bean Burritos
  • 2 cans of beans (black, pinto, whatever), drained and rinsed twice
  • Fresh lime juice (to taste)
  • Cumin powder, chili powder (to taste)
  • Fresh, assorted chopped veggies for filling
  • Fresh cheese for filling (we like shredded monterrey and cheddar mixed)
  • Whole grain tortillas 0r low-fat tostada shells
  • Whole grain cooked rice (optional)
  • Favorite salsa (optional)
Combine beans, lime juice, cumin powder and chili powder in large bowl. Warm tortillas; fill with beans, assorted chopped veggies, cheese and rice. Sprinkle with salsa, roll up and enjoy...Yum.


  1. I like bean burritos. My wife let me have pepperoni pizza tonight. I might even try and sneak a brownie later for dessert.

  2. Dear Anonymous:
    Lucky you! Your wife must be a wonderful, wonderful person. ;)