Coconut rice and beans ochos rios (WW International Cookbook, 1977)

Another gem from the International Cookbook, this time from the Caribbean and West Indies chapter. I had Haitian food at a wedding a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it, and I am really looking forward to exploring more of the recipes from this section. Most of them are meatless, which is always good in our family - not only is it easy with the kosher rules, but my son can be picky about meat sometimes, so it's usually easier to avoid it.

I have been trying to incorporate more beans and whole grains like wild rice into my eating also since I had some health problems a couple of months ago. I went to my OB-GYN with some concerns, and she sent me for some bloodwork. The bloodwork was inconclusive about my issues, and I was sent for a biopsy to rule out cancer as a cause (fortunately, I heard back a few weeks later that the sample was benign). But the bloodwork showed elevated levels of something in my liver, so I was sent to a liver specialist to follow up. They did a scan, which I am now waiting on results for - I should hear from them this week, which is hopefully positive ... the technician said I'd hear in three weeks at a scheduled follow-up unless something was serious, and then the doctor would contact me earlier to come in. So I am feeling a little more relieved, even though there's still a little anxiety about the uncertainty of what the next step is. In the meantime, though, I am just trying to eat better and be more active. I started WW again after the first meeting with the OB-GYN, and now I am down 30 pounds four and a half months later. I feel a lot better, so I am optimistic about the liver scan and improved future bloodwork.

I was very intrigued by this recipe - mainly by the use of evaporated milk and coconut extract. This cookbook uses a lot of different extracts, some of which are nearly impossible to find anymore (but that's for another recipe post!). I never thought to use coconut extract in a recipe, to add the flavor but not the Points that come from real coconut or coconut milk. After this recipe, though, I will definitely be adding it more frequently!

I ended up using only one can of the kidney beans because my husband and son were eating something else, so I didn't need to stretch the recipe as much. Also, since I was planning on having it for a dinner, I added "pork" as suggested in the recipe - I had Gardein porkless bites in the freezer, which we like in a stir fry sometimes. I cooked up the pieces and just didn't add the enclosed sweet and sour sauce (I'll use it on chicken, tofu, or TVP later this week).

I always read the recipes and wonder what they're thinking with the herb and spice combinations - then I'm pleasantly surprised when they turn out delicious and have to remind myself to trust what the authors were thinking. I really, really liked this recipe, and it came together fairly quickly - cooking the rice took a while but the rest was quick and simple. 

It was a little higher in points than some meals, but in the future I could definitely half the rice and add some cauliflower or other veggie rice to keep the volume up and the Points down.


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