Friday, October 14, 2016

Black Bean Brown Rice Burritos

One night, years ago, I was doing my dinner dishes at 11pm on a weeknight. And I wondered what had happened to my life. I had somehow become a short order cook. I didn't mean to, it just happened. Some combination of the weeknight time crunch, my then-5-year old's picky tendencies, and my lack of energy to argue with him about it. So I would make an easy meal for the kids (think chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, or boxed mac n' cheese, with some veggies and fruit on the side). After they went to bed, I would do the dishes, and make dinner for myself. Then round two of dishes. I had to take back my life!

Eating together as a family was a great first step. I would choose a meal that involved at least one food item that was a safe bet for Aleks, and serve it family style. I made a promise to myself not to worry about what he actually ate. I was doing my part - the rest was up to him. This Black Bean Brown Rice Burrito quickly became a weeknight staple for us. And worked way more magic than I expected...

I would set out the black bean brown rice mixture, tortillas and various toppings on the table and let everyone build their own burritos. My older son, Jake, and I would stuff our tortillas so full we could barely close them. Aleks would eat a plain tortilla with brown rice on the side. And I would say nothing! A few burrito nights later, he decided to get adventurous and put brown rice inside the tortilla. Yes, still beige, but a big step for him nonetheless. The real breakthrough came on a camping trip when he helped stir a veggie taco filling over a camping stove.  When he asked to taste it, I hid my shock and joy and casually agreed. That night, he happily stuffed his tortilla like the rest of us. Now, almost 10 years later, tacos are one of his favorite meals! Magic made possible by positive family meal moments & build-your-own burritos.

October is Eat Better, Eat Together month. I hope this recipe helps you get your family around the table! If eating together right now is rare, start with once or twice a week. If you're already going strong, keep up the good work. For more inspiration and strategies for a successful family meal, check out this video. Happy cooking!

P.S. If you have any family meal success stories, we'd love to hear them! And so would many families out there struggling to raise healthy kids. Share as a comment to this post, or share the post on facebook with your experience.


1 T canola or grapeseed oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (completely cooled)
1/2 tsp salt
6 whole wheat tortillas

Topping Ideas
Chopped red bell peppers
Cubed avocado
Chopped or torn romaine lettuce
Sliced scallions
Grated cheese
Greek-style yogurt

Heat oil in a nonstick wok or large pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 4 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add garlic, cumin and paprika and cook for an additional one minute. Add black beans and brown rice and cook, stirring, until heated through. Divide mixture between six tortillas. Top as desired. Enjoy!

Makes 6 servings

What Kids Can Do (with appropriate tools & adult supervision)
*Finely chop onion & mince garlic
*Measure spices
*Drain & rinse black beans
*Prep toppings
*Assemble burritos

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