Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Taco Soup

About five years ago, an amazing man came into my life!  No, I’m not talking about my husband, though he is pretty amazing too.  I’m talking about our pediatrician.  He has helped our children stay healthy and feel better when something was wrong.  Lukas is so convinced of Dr. Ng’s abilities that he thinks every owie is worthy of a trip to see him.

One way Dr. Ng helps his patients stay healthy is by making sure they are getting proper nutrition.  When Keanna was a toddler, he told her, “Make sure you eat all the colors of the rainbow every day.”  Of course, he was talking about eating a variety of fruits and vegetables (not Skittles, much to my husband's dismay).  In general, different plant color pigments are associated with different nutrients so it is important to eat an assortment of different colors.

The colors I found in my kitchen and garden, not counting what's in my
freezer and the canned veggies in my pantry.

Ever since then, we’ve been playing the colors of the rainbow game at the table.  While we’re eating, I’ll ask, “What colors of the rainbow are we eating?”  Not only is this a fun game for the kids, but it gets them consciously thinking about the fruits and veggies they are eating and helps them recognize which foods come from plants.  Keanna quickly learned that cheddar cheese does not count for orange.

I started making this taco soup a few months ago and quickly realized that it has a lot of different colors all in one bowl:  red, yellow, green, brown, and black.  Not only that, my version is meatless!!  This means it is super inexpensive and low fat (not counting the toppings).  Because it has beans and rice, it is still a source of complete protein.  It also does not have a lot of extra juice, making it thick and chunky.  Don’t tell your husband it’s meatless, and he might not even notice.  *Wink, wink*  For a vegan version, substitute vegetable bouillon for the beef bouillon and serve with vegan cheese and sour cream.

Taco Soup
4 c. red beans, drained and rinsed
4 c. water
1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes
3 c. cooked brown rice
1 lb. frozen corn
1-7 oz. can or 1 c. diced green chiles
2 Tbsp. beef bouillon
6 Tbsp. taco seasoning (if I wasn't feeding this to my kids I'd add more--I like spicy food!)
Desired toppings:  shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced olives, diced avocado, sliced green onions, tortilla chips

Combine all ingredients in 5-qt. pot; stir to combine.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve with toppings.  Yield:  about 3 qts.  (we got two dinners out of one pot)  Total cost:  less than $5 (not including toppings)

I use my homemade red beans because it is way cheaper, but canned will work.  I believe you would need about two cans.  I also use leftover brown rice.  If you don’t have any already made, you can cook the rice right in the soup pot.  Combine ¾ c. brown rice, 6 c. water, and 2 Tbsp. bouillon.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, about 45 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and continue as above.  You may need to adjust the water depending on how much was lost as steam when cooking the rice.

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