Thursday, July 12, 2012

Recipe of the Moment: Spicy Black Bean Enchiladas

Black beans are one of my favorite food items and it seems like the rest of the country is starting to agree with me. For years, health and diet books have advised you to substitute black beans for refried beans at Mexican places, and for the longest time, it was difficult to find restaurant that served them, except maybe as a garnish on a Southwestern salad.

But I can buy lots of black beans at the supermarket so it works out! If you're not yet a fan of black beans, let me give you a few reasons to consider trying them. (Sources here, here, and here)

1. Black beans are high in antioxidants. They get their color from anthocyanins, the same powerful flavanoids found in red cabbage, cranberries, blueberries, and red beets. In fact, they're about equal to cranberries.

2. Black beans are high in soluble fiber, which lowers LDL cholesterol and stabilized blood sugar levels. It also lowers your risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks.

3. Black beans are rich in molybdenum, a trace mineral that breaks down the sulfites in food. Many people are sensitive to sulfites, which can cause rapid heartbeat, headaches, or disorientation.

4. Black beans can aid weight loss for several reasons. Black beans have high fiber, but low fat content. They're also high in protein so they're satisfying and you won't be hungry later.

5. Black beans are high in folate aka vitamin B6. A diet high in folate protects against heart disease, as well as aiding in fetal development for pregnant women.

6. Black beans are a great source of magnesium, which helps maintain a healthy blood pressure and iron levels for healthy red blood cells.

7. Black beans are really good for your digestive tract. The protein and fiber move the food through your stomach at a healthier pace so your digestive track doesn't have to work too hard and as a result, lowers your risk for colon cancer.

Okay, so you're convinced! Good news - I found an amazing spicy black bean enchilada recipe online yesterday, and it tasted delicious. Best of all, it can be modified for vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike.

1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 large jalapeno pepper
2 15 ounces cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup diced tomatoes with juices
4 tortillas
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 avocado
plain yogurt
cheddar cheese (or soy cheese, if you're vegan)
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add the bell pepper and cook for another 3 minutes.

Add in the jalapenos (with seeds!) and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

When the peppers and onions are soft, add in the garlic, black beans, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and cumin. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat when the moisture has been removed.

Pour half of the mixture into a food processor. Add tomatoes and juice. Blend until smooth.

Stop here if you just want the sauce.
Take 1/2 cup of the pureed sauce onto the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Set aside the rest of the sauce.

Split up the remaining mixture that wasn't pureed into 4 section. Add each section to a tortilla. Here I added avocado, and if you want to add anything else (like meat), now is the time. 

Fold the tortillas closed and place them seam down into the 9x13 pan.

Once all 4 tortillas are filled and added, take the rest of the black bean sauce and pour it over them. Sprinkle with cheese.
Feel free to use more cheese, soy cheese, or no cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Garnish with a dab of plain yogurt, avocado, tomatoes, and green onions. Enjoy!

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