A healthy burrito for Mardi Gras

AP/Larry Crowe - Creole-style red bean burritos use the flavors of the Gulf Coast to give you a hint of Mardi Gras in a healthy, easy to make meal.

By M. Clare Haefner

Cooking with Clare

When many Americans hear the words Mardi Gras, they immediately think of New Orleans.

The city knows how to throw a party - parades, beads flying through the air, jazz and blues music filling the streets. It's excess at its best.

Then there's the food.

If you want to taste New Orleans, eat something with Cajun or creole flavors - like crawfish etouffee, shrimp gumbo or jambalaya.

You can't celebrate Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, without king cake, either. It's another great taste of New Orleans. (Check out the recipe in the this week's Taste section at kdhnews.com.)

You also can't celebrate Mardi Gras without my favorite, red beans and rice.

There are a lot of ways to make it, but I tend to take the easy way - buying a box of Zatarain's that has the spices prepackaged so all I have to do is add water and cook.

I'm always looking for new recipes to try, and I came across this one from Associated Press food writer Jim Romanoff.

He offers a new spin on red beans and rice as a burrito.

I found it super easy to make and satisfying to eat. And it's healthy, which I really appreciate as a reminder not to stray too far from my diet by taking Fat Tuesday literally.

Creole-style burritos

An 8-ounce box of red beans and rice mix will make about double the amount needed to fill these burritos. You can either make half the box (you will need to adjust the package cooking times and reduce the amount of broth used) or serve the excess on the side.

Start to finish: 35 minutes (15 minutes active)


8-ounce package red beans and rice mix

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup grated pepper jack cheese

1 cup grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese

16-ounce package frozen pepper and onion stir-fry mix, thawed

½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning

6 burrito-size whole-grain tortillas

2 cups fresh baby spinach

¾ cup salsa


Heat the oven to 350 F.

Cook beans and rice according to package directions, substituting the broth for the water called for.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss together both cheeses. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high, combine the pepper and onion mix with the Cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are dry, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Sprinkle ¼ cup of the cheese blend over each tortilla; there will be about ½ cup remaining.

Spoon about 1/3 cup of the rice and beans over the bottom two thirds of each tortilla. Spread about 1/3 cup of the pepper-onion mix over the rice. Pile some of the baby spinach on top of the peppers. Fold in 2 sides of each tortilla and roll-up. Arrange the burritos, seam-side down, in a baking dish. Top each with salsa and some of the remaining cheese.

Bake the burritos for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese is melted.

Servings: 6

Nutrition per serving: 313 calories; 98 calories from fat (31 percent of total calories); 11 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 21 mg cholesterol; 36 g carbohydrate; 16 g protein; 4 g fiber; 721 mg sodium.

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