Teaming up with San Francisco 49ers Dietitian Jordan Mazur to Create Healthy, Budget-Friendly Recipes

by Jordan Mazur

As Americans around the country are practicing safe social distancing, many are adjusting to a new normal of at-home living. One of the biggest challenges people face is how to maintain a healthy diet despite all of the new routines, schedules, stress, financial challenges, and potential distractions. Making some major changes, like overhauling your diet while working from home, can be overwhelming and incredibly difficult to follow through on. Additionally, the newfound financial burden of buying food and access to healthy food is becoming a reality for many people right now.  Just know this, you are not in this alone. We will get through it all, and it is possible to eat well and feed our families.

If you are having trouble with access to food during this time, please check in with your local food bank or food assistance program. One of the largest nonprofits in the country is Feeding America. Feeding America has a network of more than 200 food banks that feed more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other community-based agencies. Check out their website to find a food pantry near you.

The benefits of eating well during this time will help to nourish your body, build healthy habits, and potentially help your immune system. There are plenty of ways to nourish your body with food pantry items and foods that are easily and readily accessible either through your local grocery store, farmers market, or food pantry. To help with this, I’ve put together two very easy recipes, one that can serve as a meal and one as a healthy snack throughout the day. The beauty in these recipes is that the ingredients are commonly available, cheap, and requires very little cooking skills. 

Additionally, the recipes can be scaled up or down depending on how many mouths you are trying to feed. They’re also very versatile and are adapted to fit your needs. For example, the Black Bean and Rice recipe is listed to fit vegetarian and vegan diets but you can easily add your favorite meat, cheese, or vegetables that you desire. Both recipes store very well and can be made in batches and frozen for easy meal prep. More information on proper food safety and storage can be found at the bottom of this article.


Hearty Black Beans and Rice

This fast and easy recipe is rich, filling, flavorful, and very inexpensive. It requires very basic cooking skills, can be easily modified and offers flexitarian options. It’s an easy vegan meal, but you can add other ingredients to make it your own like meat, cheese, and sour cream. Scale up or down the serving sizes based on how many mouths you want to feed! It can be enjoyed right away or stored in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. If you want to batch cook this recipe, it can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months and defrosted and heated up when you want to enjoy it again.

 Prep Time: 5 mins

Cook Time: 20 mins

 Total Time: 25 mins

 Servings: 6, about 1.5 cups each

BLACK BEAN INGREDIENTS (Shopping List or Pantry List):

  • 1 large yellow onion 
  • 3 cloves garlic 
  • 2 jalapeño (optional) 
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 4 15oz. cans black beans 
  • 2 15oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes 
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin 
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder 
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 bunch green onion or cilantro (garnish and topping)
  • salt to taste 
Hearty Black Beans and Rice by San Francisco 49ers Dietitian Jordan Mazur

BLACK BEAN INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Remove the stem and seeds from the jalapeño, then dice the remaining jalapeño flesh. Thinly slice the green onion, separating the white and green parts. Set the green parts aside for garnish (you can also use fresh cilantro). 
  2. Add the onion, jalapeño, white parts of the green onion and olive oil to a large soup pot and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add in the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. While the onion, garlic, and jalapeño are sautèing, use a blender to purée 3 of the 4 cans of black beans (with liquid from the can). If the beans are too thick to purée, add just enough water to make them blend. (Note: if you don’t have a blender then you can mash the beans hand)
  4. Add all 4 cans of black beans to the soup pot (one can of whole beans with liquid, 3 puréed), along with the can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes (with juices), tomato paste, the cumin, chili powder, oregano, paprika, and salt. Stir to combine.
  5. Place a lid on the pot and allow the soup to come up to a simmer. Allow the soup to simmer, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. After simmering for 15 minutes, taste and add salt to taste (around 1/2 tsp). Serve hot with your choice of toppings or over rice (see instructions below).

NOTES: For a mild soup, skip the jalapeño and use smoked paprika. For a spicy soup, add the jalapeño with seeds.

RICE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or oil (optional)

RICE INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Rinse the rice. Place the rice in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cool, running water until the water runs clear. This removes dusty starch that can lead to gummy rice.
  2. Bring 2 cups water, salt and butter or oil to a boil in a covered small saucepan over high heat.
  3. Add the rice and stir.
  4. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the water is absorbed, for 18 to 20 minutes.
  5. Rest the rice off the heat for 10 minutes and then fluff. Remove from the heat and let the saucepan stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Easy DIY Energy Balls

These little energy bites are one of my favorites as well as an all-time favorite for all of my athletes. I created these recipes because they’re super simple to make and require no baking. The best part is they taste great. They can be used as a snack on-the-go, when you hit that afternoon lull, or if you need a little fuel to get through your workout. They can also be easily modified if you wanted to add other ingredients like coconut flakes or dried cherries. If you have kids, they’re an easy recipe to have them help with and build some basic food prep skills!

PB&J Balls

Servings size: 2 each, 0.5 oz balls 

Makes:  26 balls or 13 servings per recipe

PB& J BALLS INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 c peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
  • 1/3 c honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder (optional)
  • 1 c dried strawberries (or cherries)
  • 3/4 c rolled oats

Chocolate PB Energy Balls

Servings size: 2 each, 0.5 oz balls 

Makes:  26 balls or 13 servings per recipe

CHOCOLATE PB ENERGY BALLS INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 c peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
  • 1/3 c honey
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips/chunks
  • 2 scoops chocolate protein powder (optional)
  • 3/4  c rolled oats
Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls by San Francisco 49ers Dietitian Jordan Mazur

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Stir all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined.
  2. Cover the mixing bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, or until the mixture is chilled.
  3. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls with your hands or a melon baller.
  4. Then enjoy it immediately! Or you can refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 1 week. You can also freeze for up to 3 months.

Resources and facts sheets from USDA:

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