Meatless Monday: Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls

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I want to talk nutrition today…I’m feeling inspired to stick up for carbohydrates and to “break it down” a bit.

Those who follow my blog probably know that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), struggle with my weight, and love to eat. Those 3 “things” are very much so intertwined. I love to eat because I’m human…and a foodie. I have always struggled with my weight and this is related to both PCOS and loving to eat. So, I eat healthy most of the time (I have splurges, too!). I also try and “control” my carbohydrates and this relates most to my PCOS and need to control my weight and my blood sugars. While I am not diabetic, I have a long history of hypoglycemia and several years ago was put on metformin (a diabetic drug) in an effort to help me lose weight.

Long story short, that didn’t work. I still love to eat. I still have PCOS. But my weight is perfectly stable, albeit 25 lbs above what I’d like!

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My point with all of that is that “healthy” for me is an overall balanced diet that includes about 45-60 grams of carbohydrate per meal. I don’t skip meals and I don’t drink anything on a daily basis other than water or coffee. I also exercise 4-5 days/week, but let’s just talk food and nutrition today.

If you check out most of my recipes that fall above that 60 grams of carbohydrate per serving, many of them are vegetarian recipes. They probably contain a little less fat and protein than a meal containing meat, and consequently, the carbohydrate content is higher.

This vegetarian recipe, for example, comes in at 549 calories,  77 grams of carbohydrate, and 16 grams of fiber.

Some people might believe that 549 calories is a lot for a meal. I very much so disagree. Assuming 3 meals a day with a snack, this would be right on target for a 1600-1700 calorie intake. The nutrition information for a MEAL has to be looked at differently than picking up individual ingredients.

Then the carbohydrates. Of course 77 grams is more than my goal of 60, but I typically use a “net carbohydrate” concept which includes subtracting the grams of fiber from the grams of carbohydrate in order to calculate the “carbohydrate load” the body is registering. Fiber blunts the spike of glucose in the body and in simple terms, works against the action of carbohydrates.

77 – 16 = 61 “net” grams of carbohydrate. Rock on.

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Then there’s cholesterol. I don’t pay too much attention to this number because 1) I don’t eat a lot of meat or eggs, or excessive amounts of dairy (cholesterol comes from animals and animal products only) and 2) cholesterol from the diet has been disproven in its role of high cholesterol levels in the blood. Most people don’t know that cholesterol is actually a hormone that our bodies need to function and our bodies naturally make cholesterol…some people just make more than others.

Sodium is a tricky one….it’s in everything. I mention it a lot, but having a higher sodium meal (ballpark 1,000 milligrams) can very much so fit into a healthy intake of 2,300 milligrams a day which is recommended for most adults. Granted, less is better…but one could certainly argue that a healthy weight and being active are just as important as a low sodium diet. I go middle of the road with this one and am pretty happy if daily totals don’t surpass that 2,300. Just for a frame of reference, one of the nursing homes I taught in had menus that well exceeded 4,000 milligrams daily. Sodium is very hard to limit, but one of the best things to do is cook at home, limit eating out, and reduce the amount of processed foods in your diet. Plenty of fruits and veggies, too! When you used canned products, like the beans in this recipe, be sure to drain AND rinse the can’s contents. You remove about 40% of the sodium by doing so!

And last but not least, protein. As mentioned in the most recent Q&A, most Americans get plenty of protein. However, protein can be helpful to increase satiety and to also help blunt the glucose spike after meals, just like fiber. This meal is much more “balanced” (less carbohydrate and more protein) by using quinoa which is high in protein versus a rice that is quite low in protein.

With all of that said…this is one delicious & nutritious meal! Enjoy!

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Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls adapted from The Shiksa in the Kitchen and Peace, Love and French Fries

2 cups water
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tsp chili powder
pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 1-2 limes), divided
2 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup 2% cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 avocado, pitted and diced
1/4 cup salsa (I used Baja Fresh Grilled Salsa)

Directions:

Heat water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add quinoa, stir, and return to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steam for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add balck beans, half of cilantro, chili powder, cayenne, and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Reduce heat to low.

When the quinoa is fully cooked, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Stir in remaining cilantro and remaining lime juice. To assemble bowls, divide quinoa between three bowls. Top with black beans, tomatoes, yogurt, cheese, avocado, and salsa. Serve warm.

Yield: 3 servings.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 549 calories; 19 g. fat; 13 mg. cholesterol; 456 mg. sodium; 77 g. carbohydrate; 16 g. fiber; 24.7 g. protein

Result: We loved these! I feel a bit silly calling these black bean burrito BOWLS when I served them on a plate, but that was more so to show off all the goodies it contained :) Mr. Prevention wolfed these down and said he’d love to have these in a “regular rotation”. These were great for leftovers and the homemade salsa made them all the better. Enjoy!

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The weekend went SO fast. We kayaked and swam and played euchre and ate pizza. Donna’s visit was a blast and I was sad to see her go yesterday. I turned my frown upside down by doing some clothes shopping for work. Gotta love the great deals at Kohls!

Week #3 on the job, here…I…come!

Be well,

Comments

  1. says

    Wait….only water and coffee? I bet to differ. haha
    I love when you post about PCOS, because I learn so much from you!
    Great recipe too. Perfect for this hot, hot summer. I’m doing a vegetarian demo tomorrow and making a bean and quinoa burger, with many of the same ingredients as this burrito bowl.
    Enjoy week #3, Nicole!

  2. says

    Excellent information! I never thought about subtracting the fiber from the carbs as a better gauge. That will be interesting because I think I can look at things a little differently now. Sodium is a wicked little monkey. I use the 2300mg as my guide as well. I usually do really well but man, sometimes it’s hard! I cut out sodium wherever I can and I haven’t used table salt since I was in high school.

  3. STH says

    What irritates me is people who lump processed white bread and sugar in with whole grain products–not all carbs are equal!

  4. says

    Great way to break it down Nicole! I can’t tell you how many of my diabetic friends still look at the grams of sugar, not the carbs when figuring out how much insulin to take. Since I have to take shots every time I eat, I tend to eat bigger meals too – in the 500 calorie range – then I am full and don’t even think about snacking in between.

    And I am going a week straight without eating anything after dinner – go me! :D I loved the picture of Lily zonked out after swimming – so cute!

  5. says

    Great post! For me, it can be hard cause I am also a foodie who loves to eat. I do eat healthy most the time, I just tend to fall short in the exercise category.
    Although I am not a vegetarian, I don’t eat meat often. As a result, I tend to eat more carbs. I have been really trying to work on shifting it it more vegetarian protein options.
    I love the flavors in this “bowl”. Delicious! :)

  6. Liz says

    This looks delicious, and I’m always looking for more ways to use quinoa. I’ll be making these soon!

  7. Dianne says

    I want to try this recipt for sure, but the carb count really bothers me even at 61 carbs. I’m diabetic and this amt. is higher than any range for a female’s meal. But, then again there are times I say to heck with it and eat something I really want, and there are so many good veggies in this meal. I don’t understand what raises the carb level so high.

    • Nicole, RD says

      Every diabetic is different, but 60 grams is definitely acceptable for a large group of female diabetics. The carb level is high because every ingredient is carbohydrate-based. Beans are very healthy, but they’re very high in carbohydrate. I think this meal is also “appearing” to be higher in carbohydrate because I account for the carbohydrate in the salsa, tomato, onion, garlic, chili powder…everything! These ingredients alone were over 35 grams of carbohydrate (an additional 11.5 grams per meal). Most home cooks who are tallying carbohydrate grams do not have the knowledge or ability to account for the non-starchy vegetables when in reality, they really do add up. I hope that makes sense! :)

  8. Andrea Cox says

    I notice in the recipe, at the end it says ‘divide between 4 bowls’, but then you state the recipe is 3 servings. Is the nutritional info based on 3 servings or 4?

    It sounds delicious and I just discovered quinoa last week, so I’m anxious to try this recipe! Thank you!

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