I'm getting ready to teach my first bilingual diabetes cooking class with Latino recipes. In the past six months I've counseled a growing number of Latino patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. The challenge is that beans and rice is such an important staple of their diets, often eaten 2-3 times a day. Some have made the change to using brown rice instead of white and adding less oil, but they admit it does not taste quite right. I understand this because growing up my family's meals always included a bowl of steamed white rice along with whatever else was served. There are certain dishes where you just can't substitute brown rice for soft fragrant white rice! So my strategy is to offer a different dish entirely but with familiar ingredients. I found this Fiesta Bean Salad recipe on skinnytaste.com, a fantastic blog for healthful and flavorful recipes. It contains beans, vegetables and cilantro, all rich in fiber and phytonutrients, along with the healthful fat of avocados and olive oil to improve absorption of some of the nutrients. There is no rice but I added a small amount of quinoa, a soft-textured whole grain rich in fiber and protein, to offer more nutrients and help mimic the idea of rice and beans.
This quick and easy recipe is perfect as is but I made a few minor changes. I added ~1 cup of cooked quinoa. For the dressing I increased the olive oil to 2 tablespoons to account for the additional grain and added a tablespoon of honey (or you could use Stevia) because the dressing was a tad tart for me. I also used 2 teaspoons of garlic powder instead of the fresh garlic that I forgot to buy. One serving (a little over one cup) provides about 3 1/2 carbohydrate servings, and the inclusion of fiber, protein and healthful fat slows digestion to keep one's blood sugars from spiking.
The result was an incredibly flavorful and yummy vegetarian dish that tastes fantastic warm or at room temperature. Even though it seems like a summer dish, I definitely plan on making this year-round. Hoping and praying that my diabetes class loves it, and that you do too!