Crumble Topping for Dinner? Yes, Please!

Hi and Happy New Year!

I just finished reading The Blue Zones: Lessons For Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived The Longest. This book examines the four cultures with the highest percentage of people who have lived to 100 years old—Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica and Loma Linda, California.

There are many consistencies across the four cultures—daily exercise, strong family values, and a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. But the one that really jumped out to me was that beans were the cornerstone of each Blue Zone diet.

Yes, beans! This is quite a powerful finding for the small, humble bean.

One reason beans are important for health and longevity is that in addition to being a good source of protein, they also contain lots of powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are a class of phytochemicals that neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable compounds that cause cellular damage and one of the primary factors causing aging.

In a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, researchers measured the antioxidant capacities of more than 100 common foods. Three types of beans made the top twenty: small red beans, red kidney beans, and pinto beans. And three others — black beans, navy beans, and black-eyed peas — achieved top-40 status.

In a delicious effort to get more of these little powerhouses in your diet, try the following recipe for Black Bean Casserole with Cornmeal Crumble:

Black Bean Casserole with Cornmeal Crumble
Serves 6-8
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes  (NOTE: this calls for 1 cup cooked brown rice so get some cooking ASAP)
Equipment Needed: Saucepan, food processor, casserole dish

My most favorite part of a fruit crumble is the topping so I created a dinner casserole with a crumble topping using nutrient rich pumpkin seeds instead of butter. And the results are DELISH!  Serve with a green salad for a complete meal.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, fire roasted with chipotles
1 28-oz can pinto beans, drained
1 28-oz can black beans, drained
1 4.5-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained

1/2 cup packed minced fresh cilantro
1 cup leftover brown rice

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the spices, tomatoes, beans and canned chilies, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, remove from heat and stir in cilantro and brown rice.

While mixture is simmering, prepare crumble topping.

Cornmeal Crumble Topping

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup all-purpose flour (GLUTEN FREE? USE A GF BAKING MIX INSTEAD)
3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold water
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil

In a food processor, pulse pumpkin seeds until ground.  Add flour, cornmeal, and salt and pulse to combine. Drizzle in water and olive oil, pulsing quickly in food processor, just until mixture begins to hold together.

Spray or lightly oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Pour the bean/rice mixture into the dish. Spread cornbread crumble over beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cornbread topping is lightly browned.

Enjoy!
~Chef Jenny

PS-If you’re interested in learning how to make beans and other superfoods taste delicious, consider my Natural Foods Cooking Program. The recipes and instruction in this class will keep you and your family eating healthy all year long—and loving every bite. Registration closes this Tuesday, January 15th, so if you are interested, be sure to sign up soon!

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