Last Night’s Dinner: Veggie Burrito Bowls

When I’m not obsessing over decadent restaurant menus or baking desserts to accompany Nick’s indulgent dinners, I’m usually trying to compensate by eating healthy dinners.  When I’m just feeding myself, it’s no big deal- I’m happy with whatever combination of vegetables, whole grains, and protein I can come up with.  But when Nick is home, I feel obligated to come up with something slightly more interesting.  (In no way does Nick demand this… but if he is willing to go along with my attempts at healthy eating, the least I can do is make it somewhat exciting.)

One of my favorite recent creations is my version of a burrito bowl.  I’d like to think it’s more nutritious and fewer calories than what you find at Chipotle.  If nothing else, it’s a lot easier to resist the giant mounds of sour cream, cheese, and guacamole if you don’t give yourself the options, or at least control the amount you put on.

This meal also happens to be an important milestone for me- this is the first time I have defied my own rule against soy products masquerading as meat.  Nick suggested we throw in some Lightlife Smart Ground, Mexican Style and he must have caught me at a weak moment, because I agreed.  And it wasn’t bad once it was mixed in with all the other stuff.  I have to admit- 70 calories, 0 grams of fat with lots of protein and a decent amount of iron is hard to argue against, especially when it’s surprisingly low in sodium, as far as pre-seasoned foods go.

Slight tangent: I do want to note – and this applies to a lot of my Last Night’s Dinner entries – that I’m not intending to present this as a recipe that should be followed closely.  When I’m thinking about things to cook for weeknight dinners, I want inspiration for using things in my pantry, doing something a little different than what I’ve done 20 times before, in a way that works for me.  That’s what I intend for these entries to be.

Veggie Burrito Bowls

Start the rice an hour before you want to eat.  Then you have about 30 minutes before you need to start prepping the rest, so you can go watch an episode of 30 Rock on syndication, or clean up the kitchen from last night’s dinner, if you live like I do.

Bring two cups of water and one cup of short grain brown rice to a boil.  Stir, cover, and simmer for 50 minutes.

Prep while rice is cooking: Slice an onion and two or three bell peppers (I love a combination of green and yellow, but the yellow peppers were selling for $6/pound (?!!) so we just used green this past time).  Core and slice a jalapeno pepper.  (Jalapeno is optional, but wearing gloves is not, if you do choose to use it.)  Chop up a handful of fresh cilantro.  Grate one lime’s-worth of zest into a small bowl and then add the lime juice to the bowl.

When the rice has simmered for 50 minutes, remove from heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes.  Heat some oil (olive or safflower work nicely) in one large skillet and two medium skillets, all over medium-high heat.  Add the bell peppers and onions to the large skillet and saute until tender, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  In the mean time, add one can of black beans (drained and rinsed) to one of the medium skillets and season with salt and ground cumin.  In the last skillet, add half a package of Mexican-style Smart Ground.  Heat both the beans and fake beef until heated through, stirring occasionally (about 6 minutes).

Fluff the rice with a fork and stir in the lime zest and juice.

Divide rice among bowls.  Top with peppers and onions, beans, and fake beef.  Squeeze some more lime juice on top, if desired.  Add any combination of the following- jalapeno slices, Tabasco sauce, sour cream (Greek yogurt works, too), grated cheese, chopped cilantro, avocado, salsa.

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