Recipe: Polenta with Spanish Rice and Beans

spanish-polenta-recipe-1I found this recipe in The China Study Cookbook and thought it looked so tempting! I was right!  It’s amazing and my husband loved it too. I made a few changes from the original recipe.  Mainly just doubled the amount of polenta because I wanted a thick layer underneath the beans and rice and I love smokey flavors so I added in diced smoked tofu (organic, non GMO variety).  Also, I used organic frozen brown rice (it’s already cooked) instead of regular brown rice because that cut the cooking time down by 45 minutes. What you see below is my slightly revised recipe from the original.

Polenta with Spanish Rice and Beans


For the Polenta:

  • 4 cups waterspanish-polenta-recipe-2spanish-polenta-recipe-3
  • 1.5 cups polenta corn grits
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

For the spanish rice and beans:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic (or use 1.5 teaspoons mince garlic or 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 x 14.5 ounce can diced tomato ( I always try to get a brand that says ‘BPA Free’ on the label
  • Some vegetable broth (just for sautéing so the onions and rice don’t stick to the pan)
  • 1 tablespoon (or less) chili powder
  • 1 cup frozen, organic brown rice
  • 1 x 15.5 ounce can black beans, rinse well!!
  • 1 cup salsa
  • Guacamole (to add when serving)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit

To cook the polenta, bring the water, polenta and salt to a boil. Lower, stir often for a few minutes. It will thicken quickly. Transfer the polenta to a baking dish (I used a square dish about 13×13 or so…) and spread it evenly into the dish. (Spray baking dish with non fat cooking spray. I use olive oil spray). Leave that there and go work on the rice and beans.

Sautee your onion, garlic, and chili powder for about 3 minutes to soften onions.  Use your vegetable broth to prevent sticking. Then add in the frozen brown rice.  If anything is sticking, add another splash of broth.  Sauté another 2 minutes to mix all flavors together.  Stir in the tomatoes, then the black beans. Mix all together.

Pour the rice and bean mixture on top of the polenta mixture and smooth out with a large spoon.  Spread salsa on top of the mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.  remove from oven.  When serving, add a dollop of guacamole on top.   I served mine with marinated kale greens.



Profit Seeking ‘Magic’ Weight Loss Solutions

I became interested in nutrition when I was about 21 years old.  I had always been working out, but never really knew much about nutrition beyond eating things that were low fat.  I remember the night when my ‘ah hah’ moment happened. I was in bed watching TV very late at night. Couldn’t sleep. An infomercial came on featuring Dr Perricone and his ‘The Wrinkle Cure’ book. The infomercial was all about how eating the right foods could dramatically affect our skin’s appearance and drastically delay and reduce the signs of aging.  I was hooked! I ordered the book, read it cover to cover and immediately began incorporating these valuable foods into my diet.  From there I was fascinated with the relationship between food and our appearance as well as our overall health.

Fast forward about 15 years later and I continue my studies into holistic nutrition- preventing and healing with foods.  I’m reading fascinating books about our ‘health care’ system (which in the holistic community is referred to as a ‘disease care’ system) and how nutrition is grossly overlooked not only as a means of prevention, but also as a  means of healing.

Think about it- how quick are some doctors to prescribe you a pill if you go in complaining of an ailment? I remember one time in my early 20s I decided to go meat free so I replaced all meat and dairy with soy alternatives.  Not too long after that I had developed large cystic acne on my cheeks and some on my back.  I never had acne before and couldn’t understand what was happening. Of course- I didn’t make the connection between my diet change and the new acne. I went to a dermatologist for help and explained to her that all of a sudden I have these large cysts that are painful.  She could easily see what I was talking about.  It was like having Mount Rushmore on my face.  She never asked me any questions, specifically, ‘has anything in your lifestyle or diet changed recently???’  Nope, she took a look and prescribed me an oral anti-biotic as well as a topical cream and I was on my way home.  Of course, neither prescription worked because I did not have an infection in my body or under my skin.  The massive amounts of soy I was consuming was mimicking estrogen in my body and causing a shift in my hormones, which produced acne.

Lucky for me a friend of mine who noticed the change in my skin was smart enough to ask if I had changed my diet.  Thankfully- the light bulb went on and I eliminated the soy so that my body could balance itself out again.  It took time- but eventually my skin cleared and I threw away the prescriptions that were incorrectly prescribed for me- in my opinion by someone who was more concerned with treating my symptoms than helping uncover the cause. This is the so called ‘magic solution’ effect our health care system has become synonymous with and never has it been more apparent than in the weight loss industry.

I want to share with you a very profound excerpt from a book I am reading by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, a leader in nutrition research for more than 40 years and best selling author.  This excerpt will really bring home the ‘magical solution’ practice of our health care system.  Dr. Campbell writes:

“The wealthy and powerful industries that make up our health system have replaced its original goal–human health–with the pursuit of ever-increasing profits…The medical, pharmaceutical, and supplement industries figured out long ago that a nation of healthy eaters would be disastrous to their profits…The magic solution…easy and foolproof, is much more appareling than a realistic solution that takes time and is complex to get right. From weight loss solutions and financial services, to cleaning supplies and beauty products, the closer the product is to magic, the easier it is to sell and the more appealing it is to buy…Worried about getting a heart attack? All you need to do is take a couple of omega-3 capsules a day.  It just takes a few seconds and it’s easy as, well, popping a pill.  Got diabetes? Hey, here’s an insulin injector pen with a digital timer on the cap so you never have to thin about doses and timing–or improving your diet. Overweight? Drink an appetite suppressant shake, or just get your stomach stapled so you literally can’t overeat or tolerate rich foods anymore. “

Dr Campbell’s point is that magic solutions work by addressing symptoms rather than causes (like the antibiotics and cream for my cystic acne).  Symptoms can easily be suppressed, but causes take more time to figure out and are more complex to deal with.  Causes require involvement and responsibility by the person with the problem.  This is ESPECIALLY true when it comes to weight loss.  Instead of helping people understand nutrition, how to plan and prepare meals, everyone wants to sell you a pill or magic ‘diet’ that will melt away the pounds and be so easy!!!! All you have to do is only eat cabbage for 2 weeks and watch the pounds melt away!!! Are you going to pop pills your whole life or only eat cabbage forever???  Or should you start addressing the issues as to why you are not eating correctly and learn new ways of getting healthy and HAPPY with nutrition?

The truth is that the majority of chronic diseases and ailments plaguing Americans today are preventable and treatable with a whole foods diet rich in plant based foods.  The ONLY way to lose weight and have it be sustainable is with a healthy, whole foods diet.  Our weight loss programs are based on whole foods and healthy eating. Not starvation.  We will NEVER require you to starve in order to lose weight.  Even our 14 day cleanse is based around 5 meals a day from whole, organic sources.

If someone is offering you a ‘magic solution’ to  your problem instead of taking the time to learn more about the root cause- they don’t have your best interest at heart. They have their own wallet at heart.  Health is complex and takes time to understand. Our problems didn’t develop overnight and they won’t be solved overnight either.  If you truly care about your health, take the time to learn more about the root causes of your symptoms instead of just covering up the symptoms with pills, injections or creams.