A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spicy Corn Bread & Black Bean Casserole: Complete Protein with Spice

My love of quinoa and steamed veggie recipes has gotten the best of me; I've been stuck in a recipe rut lately and have felt the need to break free. But oh how I love cooking with quinoa and veggies! So quick and nutritious, plus it just tastes great, and I’m no Iron Chef. There’s a simple solution to this problem minor dilemma; just create a different recipe!

I have been so intent on making quick and healthy meals for our work lunches all in one day that I’ve neglected venturing out to create new meals.  You can only eat similar meals for so long before it starts to wear on you. This is a big foodie no-no, and I don’t like it; there are way too many foods and recipes just waiting to be enjoyed.
So good and easy to make. How can you not make this every week?

Is this a familiar occurrence in your home?  If you’re the main cook, do you feel the need to change it up a little?  Keeping a varied (but still healthy) diet is key not only for new flavors, but for providing essential nutrients the body needs and wants.  Of course, enjoying the flavor of something new is an added bonus; good flavor, that is.

When I cook, I have a tendency to try and pack each recipe full of beneficial ingredients, which sometimes most of the time goes overboard, but sometimes turns out great. 

I felt the need for a Mexican inspired dish, and the can of organic fat free refried black beans from Whole Foods was calling out to me.
Hi Señor, use me!

Casseroles are something I just downright enjoy; they are fairly simple to make, can be healthy, and versatile to boot! So, there I was, craving something Mexican, preferably a casserole, and with a can of “frijoles refritos” (organicos?) in hand.  After a short time of food meditation, a Mexican-style casserole was the obvious choice.

Mexican meals make me think/crave corn bread, so that was another key ingredient for my anti-monotonous meal. Long story short; I decided on a protein corn bread casserole. It had to be quick (I do still have 4 more meals to make for the week), so I opened the can of whoop a…..beans... and turned on the oven and stove.

Corn and beans, just like rice and beans, make a great combo; they both lack certain amino acids for a complete protein, but combined they complement each other by providing all 9 essential amino acids. Read my past post on complete protein to learn more.

Mmmm, the smell of cumin, garlic, and corn toasting in the oven is a treat to the senses, but a tease to the stomach….at least until it's done and cool enough to eat.  The casserole turned out deliciously well and left me eager to get to work just to have it for lunch, but then I’d be ready to go home again.

Have I rambled about my though process long enough? Would you like to see how to make this simple, yet tasty and nutritious dish? ?Try it tonight….it doesn’t take long to prepare; I promise!

Spicy Corn Bread & Black Bean Casserole
  • Healthy corn bread batter; I used the recipe I posted for Chobani Greek Yogurt Corn Bread, but you could use this whole grain beer bread recipe too.
  • 15 oz can fat free refried black beans; fat free refried pinto beans will work too; check the ingredients and make sure it’s only beans, salt, and maybe some spice.
  • 1/2 yellow onion; chopped and diced
  • 2 Bell peppers chopped and diced; any color will work; save a few strips for topping
  • 12 oz bag of frozen chopped broccoli
  • 6 oz salsa
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 cloves garlic; crushed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin and paprika
  • 1/4+ teaspoons cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons dried cilantro
  • Prepare the corn bread batter of your choice in a large bowl
  • Heat a sauce pan on the stove, add garlic and onion and let simmer for 1 minute
  • Add broccoli, bell peppers, refried beans, salsa, broth, herbs, and spices to the sauce pan and mix well
  • Preheat oven to 365 degrees
  • Let cook for about 15 to 20 minutes on the stove and remove from heat; allow to cool for 10 minutes
  • Add bean mixture to corn bread batter and mix everything together
  • Pour mix into glass casserole dish (I used individual sized Pyrex containers), top with saved pepper strips, and bake uncovered for 30 minutes
  • If the top is getting really brown, cover with foil and continue baking for another 20 minutes
  • Insert toothpick or butter knife in the middle and check that it comes out clean; unless you like it a little soft, like me
  • Once done, remove from oven and let cool before serving.
  • Optional toppings: a dollop of plain, non-fat Greek or regular yogurt or more salsa are both excellent choices
Make extras in a small dish for a perfect snack to grab n'go!

This can be modified to suit your preferences, but I used these ingredients and Kelley (my official tester) confirmed it was great. As I posted yesterday, this can be enjoyed hot or cold for breakfast, lunch, or dinner
Don't forget....Just Add...this!

Do you like casseroles?  Do you feel they are best for breakfasts or as a lunch/dinner meal? 
Please share any casserole recipes you have; I love them any time of day with any kind of (healthy) ingredients.

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