Lent, a season of prayer and fasting, is a perfect time to shift our “food focus.”
Whether we’re doing without meat on Fridays, or giving up our favorite candy, the call to sacrifice brings us face-to-face with a startling reality in our consumer society: More is not better.
Of course, that would seem obvious when U.S. obesity rates are at an all-time high, approaching 40 percent for adults and over 18 percent for children. Those extra pounds are often the result of consuming high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and insufficient exercise.
But there are other reasons why more is not better.
Our global food waste is approximately one-third, or 1.3 billion tons, of what is produced worldwide. As Pope Francis has said, “throwing away food is like stealing from the table of the poor and the hungry.”
Large-scale methods of food production generate livestock emissions and agricultural runoff that are major contributors to global warming and pollution. With our environment and its biodiversity in peril, more is not better.
And more for some is not better when others have less. According to the Global Hunger Index, 124 million people suffer acute hunger, up from 80 million two years ago.
Lent challenges us to rethink our understanding of true abundance. A simple, meatless recipe such as rice and beans can help us to better appreciate the God-given gift of nourishing food, while sharing the table with those for whom such a meal is often the only option.
This Lent, nourish both body and soul with the following version of red beans, collard greens and brown rice.
Red Beans with Collard Greens and Brown Rice
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium-large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 stalks of celery, sliced thinly and diced small
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, freshly cracked
3 cups of red beans
1/4 cup of red bean liquid retained from cooking
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon of dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Water as needed
3 cups of collard greens, coarsely chopped
Brown rice, cooked
Hot sauce to taste
1. Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil, using a spatula to evenly spread the oil on the bottom surface of the skillet. Add the onion, pepper and celery and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute.
2. To the skillet, add the bay leaf, red beans with liquid, red and black pepper, thyme, marjoram and salt. Add enough water to create a stew-like consistency. Using a potato masher, mash some of the beans until the sauce thickens. Stir in the collard greens. Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for at least 10 minutes or longer, adding water as needed to maintain a stew-like consistency.
3. Serve over rice and top with hot sauce.
Libby Mills is a culinary registered dietitian, nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She hosts “Libby’s Luncheonette,” a live weekly radio show on WCHE 1520 AM Mondays from 12:15 to 1 p.m. ET. Connect with her at her website, DigInEatUp.com, or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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