Coconut Rice and Beans: Recipe #241

We were inspired by a national dish of Belize to make this coconut rice and beans dinner. Belize is a beautiful coastal country in Central America between Mexico and the Caribbean, with jungles and beaches and coral reefs. Not to mention delicious food! Hope you enjoy this little culinary trip to a wonderful new land without having to leave your kitchen.

Thanks to National Foods for global cuisine ideas, and to all of you for being part of our delicious, mindful, planet-saving family! 😍

Ingredients ($5.50 for a potful)

9 small handfuls of dry pinto beans (about 4 cups) – $0.32
5 cloves of garlic, 1 of them crushed – $0.20
1 tbsp coconut oil – $0.55
1 large onion, chopped – $0.50
1/2 bunch kale, chopped – $0.90
1 red pepper, diced – $0.79
1 tbsp minced basil leaves – free from garden
3 mini cans coconut milk (161 mL each) – $1.49
1 1/2 cups dry rice – $0.53
2 cups water – free
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions for Coconut Rice and Beans

1. If you have time, soak the beans in water overnight first. Then, whether or not they’ve been soaked, put the beans in a large pot filled with water. Drop in 4 whole, peeled garlic cloves. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to medium and boil gently for at least 3-4 hours (if dry) or 1 hour (if pre-soaked). When the beans are tender and not crunchy, drain and rinse them in cool water and set aside.

In the same large pot, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, crushed garlic clove, red pepper, kale, and minced basil leaves. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions and peppers are soft.

2. Add the beans back into the pot with the vegetables, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Next, add the dry rice, coconut milk, and water. Stir to combine everything thoroughly, and bring back to a boil. Then cover the pot, turn down to medium low heat, and let it simmer for 45 minutes until the rice is cooked and everything has come together nicely into a thick and creamy dish.

Serve the coconut rice and beans with your favorite side dish, or eat it as a complete meal in itself. Enjoy your tropical getaway! 🌴

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 1 = >3 hours
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If any of you lovely readers tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

9 Even-better-the-next-day Recipes With Lots of Yummy Leftovers

“Hooray, it’s leftover day!!”

Not a refrain I’d expect to hear very often. It conjures up images of microwaving sad containers of frozen mystery meals from who knows when.

But with the recipes below, there are always smiling mouths happy to re-eat what we enjoyed the night before.

Cooking once and eating twice also saves time and energy for whoever is the chef in the house. Bonus!

I hope you enjoy these, and I’d love to hear what your favorite leftover recipes are too. 🙂

#1: Paqa’s Best Banana Muffins

The kids here call my mom Paqa, which I’ve heard means Wise Elder in Peruvian. This is her recipe for the moistest, yummiest banana muffins we’ve ever tasted. At Paqa’s house there is always something delicious to eat!

#2. Zuppa di Fagioli (Italian Bean Soup)

There’s nothing like a bowl of good old-fashioned comfort food: beans, rice, veggies, and a delicious broth. It tastes like being in an Italian grandmother’s kitchen. Even better if you soak your own dry beans the night before!

#3. Stovetop Cassoulet

This is a warm, comforting, sausage and bean casserole from the south of France. I had a craving for it on a sweltering hot day, so I invented a stovetop version rather than firing up the oven and heating up the house. It’s amazing served with your favorite freshly baked biscuits or crusty bread.

#4. Sesame Chicken with Soba Noodles

“Chicken and sobas!” is the frequent answer to “What do you guys want for dinner?” at our house. It’s a spin on a baked chicken dish I had at a retreat once, mixed with a yummy warm soba noodle salad and a side of veggies. Today’s veggies are the British treat of cauliflower cheese.  

#5. Red Lentil Dal

The first spoonful goes into our mouths and immediately all the muscles in our face and shoulders relax. There’s a dreamy “wow that’s good” look spreading around the table and we settle into our bowls as though they hold delicious, precious treasure. Yes, it’s dal night

#6. Family Lasagna Night

Lasagna takes a bit longer to make than other pasta, but the prep time is actually not that long and the comforting nourishment is worth it. Side benefit: the whole house will smell delicious as it bakes away in the oven! This recipe makes enough for 4-5 people to have 2 dinners (leftovers are just as good as the original, if not better).

#7. Mennonite Seven Layer Dinner

I learned to make this casserole after enjoying it at my husband’s grandmother’s house. The seven layers are potatoes, onions, carrots, rice, peas, sausages, and tomato soup, with some salt and pepper for seasoning. It smells amazing in the oven and is a very comforting dish for all ages.

#8. Pasta with Lentil Mushroom Balls

We had fun deciding what to call these. They’re not meatballs, so are they plant balls? Bean balls? Vegan balls? Neatballs? Despite all the laughs, they’re actually very delicious. Lentils, mushrooms, and a bunch of yummy sauces and spices make for a hearty and nourishing topping for your favorite pasta.

#9. Chocolate Zucchini Cake with (Vegan) Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s zucchini season again in California, so we’re back to our favorite zucchini fritters and creamy zucchini pasta. But wait, zucchini chocolate bundt cake too? How versatile is this vegetable? I think this is my new favorite way to eat chocolate cake. Many thanks to Isa for inspiration.

Many blessings from our home to yours for a wonderful weekend and week ahead. Please let me know if you try any of these recipes and how they turned out for you.

Happy cooking!
Maitri Alexandra 🙂

9 Budget-Friendly Recipes to Delight Your Family Without Breaking the Bank

Money is tight for many of us right now with the ongoing shutdown.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy homemade gourmet meals that feel very decadent.

With a little creativity, everyday eating can save money while being healthy and delicious.

These are all recipes that the kids in our house enjoyed as much as the adults did. I hope they bring full bellies and smiling faces to your house as well.

Wishing you comfort and enjoyment in your day today.

#1: Raisin Whole Wheat Scones for breakfast ($5)

These scones are one of my husband’s breakfast specialties to whip up for us on the weekend. They are crisp on the outside and so soft inside, pulling apart easily into two halves that can be loaded up with fruit and cream. I like to break them apart and dip each piece lovingly in warm soy milk before popping it into my mouth. Delicious!

#2. Butternut Squash Gnocchi for dinner ($5.50)

My Italian grandparents used to be famous for their gnocchi, and one summer they showed me how to make them. This is their gnocchi recipe as I remember it, except I like to use butternut squash sometimes instead of potato. If you’re looking for healthy comfort food, look no further!

#3. Avocado Toast for a healthy snack ($2)

We whipped this avocado toast up the other day to feed three hungry kids, alongside a farm-fresh salad. If you have a nice ripe avocado lying around, it’s really the easiest fancy snack, and fun to eat too.

#4. Fast French Dressing to top any greens ($2)

My daughter Megan is turning into the family saucier – the sauce chef. Here is a beautiful French dressing she made that was inspired by Rozanne. All ages enjoyed it on our lunchtime salads. Thanks Megan!

#5. Roasted Root Veggies for a tasty side ($6)

With root vegetables, it’s easy to throw everything in the oven and have a nice roasted medley for dinner. You can pair this with a soup or heartier entree. I used a yam, some turnips from the farm, and brussels sprouts. Other vegetables would work well too – like onions, carrots, or potatoes.

#6. Dilly Salmon Cakes for a fresh lunch treat ($8)

When fresh fish is hard to find, or when you have some leftover fish to use up, salmon cakes are a tasty way to get your omega-3’s. These are a bright lemon-dilly treat to serve up for lunch that’s also good for your mental health and wellbeing.

#7. Dry Roasted Almonds for an addictive snack ($8)

We had two giant bags of raw almonds from a past Costco run that weren’t getting eaten. So I decided to salt and dry roast them, and now they’re getting gobbled up like crazy. With this experiment, I learned how easy it is to roast almonds! Thanks to Jami for the inspiration.

#8. Homemade Applesauce for anytime ($3.50)

Maybe it’s because my mom used to make homemade applesauce for us when we were little, but I much prefer this to store-bought. Especially if our kids are willing to help peel and chop apples! This was a fun weekend project we did together, with delicious results.

#9. Grandma’s Fudgy Brownie Cookies for love ($4)

My British Grandma used to make these cookies for teatime when she was still with us. They’re fudgy and decadent. I loved going over to spend Friday afternoons with her when I was a young adult, and she still lives on in my heart and in my baking. This one’s for you, Grandma! 🙂

Many blessings from our home to yours for a wonderful weekend and week ahead. Please feel free to forward this to a friend who might be looking for creative meal ideas that don’t break the bank.

Happy cooking!
Maitri Alexandra 🙂