“Welcome to how 90% of the rest of the world eats,” we told our children at the dinner table. Sitting in front of them was a heaping, hot bowl of brown rice topped with pinto beans.
Today at church we heard a few stories from the pulpit about valiant, faithful, god-fearing individuals living in far-off countries, who sacrifice so much so that their neighbors might eat. These people consider themselves blessed to have, “one good meal a day.” The rest of their food, they give away.
On our drive home, we asked our children how we would do if we only had “one good meal a day.” They began to expound on their charitable aspirations when their idea of “one good meal” became obvious. It was the equivalent to my idea of a luxurious Thanksgiving dinner.
That’s when my husband and I decided it was high time to teach our kids how the rest of the world eats. When we got home I immediately busted out my electric pressure cooker, feeling grateful already for my favorite kitchen appliance. (I’m pretty sure this 90% I keep referring to doesn’t have one of these babies to cut down on their cooking time.)
“The food we eat from other countries,” I explained, “like our favorite Chinese take-out or our favorite Mexican eats, these foods are those countries’ fancy foods. It’s what they cook for weddings and parties, but it’s not what everybody eats everyday. For most people, it’s too expensive. Instead, for optimal nutrition and economy, they eat this: Beans and rice. This is what counts as ‘one good meal.’”
High protein, high fiber, complex carbs, low fat, filling, and all for just pennies! Whose ingenious idea was this? Why didn’t we think of this before? (Oh, that’s right. My water-tight statistic of 90% of the world’s population has, indeed, thought of this before.)
Our older children, to my delight, found the meal quite palatable with the proper seasoning and gobbled their helpings down. They even licked their bowls clean. The younger children were harder sells, but we assured them this would be their “one good meal” and then the kitchen would close for the night. With lots coaxing and a sprinkle more of salt, they got enough down their gullets to ensure proper energy levels.
In fact, as I type this, the children’s energy levels are so high, my brood is currently building an elaborate fort in the living room, employing the help of every blanket and couch cushion in the house. The true test of this simple, nutrient packed entree will be if these energy levels continue when I say it’s time to clean up.
I have a friend who told me this was their Christmas Eve dinner tradition: Nothing but a bowl of beans and rice to help them remember the poor and fill their hearts with gratitude for the upcoming indulgent breakfast and presents. (Not to mention a load off that mother’s plate for the day!) I loved it.
There are plenty of leftovers. Who knew beans and rice could expand that much? I plan to incorporate the beans and rice into this week’s menu line-up although the standard combo was pretty fabulous all on it’s own. And I can always freeze the rest for Christmas. Or better yet, in the true spirit of “one good meal,” give the rest away.
Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate, returned missionary, free-lance writer, and the mother of five small children. Read more at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com