As we enjoy the warmer weather and having dinners al fresco, I find myself inspired to create healthy, plant-based dinners that can be enjoyed both warm and cold.
One of my favorite easy meals is a burrito-inspired black bean bowl that is made with some awesome nutrient-dense ingredients, comes together with minimal fuss. I especially love it because it’s so easy to customize this recipe based on your needs and preferences, which allows for creativity as you change up ingredients to suit your flavor cravings.
As you’ve likely noticed, I focus a lot on helping make it enjoyable and sustainable to follow a nutrient-dense, plant-forward diet rich in fruit and veggies, healthy fats, legumes, whole grains, and with minimal red/processed meat, processed foods, and added sugar. One of the keys to making a plant-based (or honestly, any) meal satisfying, is to make sure you have a good balance of protein, fat, and fiber, and that you incorporate lots of color, flavor, and texture into your meals.
Beans are one of my favorite plant proteins because they’re a great source of both protein and fiber, plus they provide important vitamins and minerals. Another bonus is that beans are affordable, easy to work with, and incredibly versatile. Black beans, which you’ll see incorporated into the recipe I share below, are a classic burrito bowl add-in; they are high in plant-based iron as well as important vitamins and minerals like folate, magnesium, and manganese.
Before we dive into the specifics of this Black Bean Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowls recipe, I’d love to give you some additional information about the ingredients and why I love using them:
- Spices: Cumin, chili powder, and garlic have all been noted for their antioxidant benefits and are a great way to add extra flavor to keep things interesting. For this recipe, I heated up this spice combination in a small saucepan and mixed them together.
- Adding healthy color: Salsa is a great way to add a pop of color and flavor to your meals. The vitamin C in tomatoes and peppers can also help enhance the absorption of the iron in the beans. If you’re watching your sodium intake, go for a version without added salt or make your own.
- Rice alternative: Cauliflower rice is one of my favorite ways to sneak in extra vegetables, especially if someone is just getting started with upping their intake. It’s also a great lower-carb alternative to rice. Blood sugar management is super-important for overall wellness, and since beans provide great complex carbs, keeping extra carbs on the lower side helps make this more balanced. Cauliflower rice is also high in fiber, and other important nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, choline, and antioxidants.
- Healthy fats: Adding a healthy fat like avocado—either sliced or in the form of guacamole—helps add staying power to a meal by slowing digestion. Avocados are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and also happen to be rich in fiber, which helps make the meal more filling. Beyond that, they’re a good source of potassium and magnesium, two important minerals for countless body processes, especially related to muscle and nerve function. Avocados also add a nice creamy mouthfeel.
- Toppings: This is where you can get really creative with your recipe. I love adding a few squirts of lime juice or some chopped cilantro to quickly amp up the flavor. If you like sour cream, I often recommend plain Greek yogurt (or a plant-based version). For my plant-based cheese lovers, you can experiment with a non-dairy cheese product or try nutritional yeast, which adds a nice savory taste.
- Other ideas: One of my other favorite add-ins are pickled red onions. Most recipes call for salt and sugar, but I’ve found this recipe works fine without both. The easiest way to incorporate this add-in is to slice up a red onion, place it in a jar, and then pour apple cider or white vinegar over it and let it sit covered in the fridge overnight. Some other ideas include incorporating fajita veggies (like peppers and onions) made from scratch or heated up from frozen, adding corn, or for extra heat, topping with hot sauce. The version you’ll see below includes chopped romaine lettuce which adds a satisfying crunch.
- Feeding a crowd: When making this dish for a big group of people, you can have fun by setting up a DIY burrito bowl bar and letting everyone choose their own add-ons.
Black Bean Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowls
-¾ cup black beans
-¼ teaspoon cumin
-¼ teaspoon chili powder
-½ teaspoon garlic powder
-dash of sea salt
-A few grinds of black pepper or to taste
-1 cup cauliflower rice, cooked
-1 cup shredded romaine
-2 tablespoons salsa
-½ a medium avocado, cubed or ¼ cup guacamole
-1 tablespoon unflavored Greek or plant-based yogurt
-1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
-1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
-Squirt of lime juice
-In a small saucepan, heat black beans and add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
-Meanwhile, arrange cauliflower rice and shredded romaine in a bowl.
-Add the cooked beans and top your bowl with salsa, avocado, yogurt, nutritional yeast, cilantro, and lime. Add other desired toppings.
I hope you enjoy making and eating your Black Bean Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowls as much as I do!