I love Mexican food.
Fresh tortillas with loads of avocado, refried beans and rice, carne asada, spicy salsa, yum, yum, yum. Like most foods we love, Mexican food is tied closely to very happy memories for me. Whether sitting at my Grandma and Grandpa Sanchez's kitchen table while fresh flour tortillas appeared off the stove or waiting outside for my Dad to hand me a taco straight off the grill, when I crave Mexican food I know I'm craving more than just the food itself. The flavors remind me of childhood and the food reminds me of happy times with family.
Food is about so much more than nutrition, the rituals around food, and the memories that flavors evoke, nourish our minds and bodies in ways we don't fully understand so finding ways to recreate flavors we love is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Anytime I'm craving the warmth and comfort of my grandma's kitchen, I start by making a big batch of Mexican rice which I then mix with beans, avocado and salsa to create the perfect meal.
Grandma Sanchez's Mexican Rice (reinvented)
Serves 6 - 8
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice, rinsed (not the quick cook kind)
3 cups water
1 tablespoon, tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
Heat grapeseed oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook for 5 minutes or until soft.
Add diced tomatoes, cilantro and garlic and cook for another minute, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't burn. Stir in brown rice and cook for another 2 minutes. Add water, tomato paste, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir until the tomato paste fully dissolves into the liquid.
Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 35 - 45 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is fully cooked.
Serve as a side or top with pinto beans and avocado for a delicious meal.
What childhood foods do you love? Leave a note in the comments and I'll try to feature a healthy version in an upcoming blog post. Enjoy!