When Ebert and I lived in Ojai, California (which seems like a lifetime ago) the Natural Cafe in Santa Barbara or Nature's Grill in Ventura was one of our favorite places to eat at. It's the same restaurant with the same menu, so I don't know why the names are different. Anyway, it was the best healthy option for dining out and one of us always ordered the Super-Natural Platter: corn bread topped with pinto beans, rice, steamed vegetables, butter and cheddar cheese.
When we moved from Ojai to Los Angeles (Glendale to be exact) we really missed the Natural Cafe/Nature's Grill because there weren't a lot of restaurants like this close to us. And we rarely ever wanted to drive over the hill to West Hollywood or Santa Monica to find similar restaurants. So, when we wanted a simple, yet healthy dinner we decided to make our own version of the Super-Natural Platter. Here's our wholesome and nutritious recipe -
Trader Joe's CornBread Mix + can of green chiles
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 can black or pinto beans (optional)
Garlicky Brown Rice (optional)
lots and lots of Garlic - minced, diced, or crushed
Salt & Pepper to taste
Feta or your favorite cheese
Cook the brown rice. Bake the cornbread, with the added can of green chiles, according to the directions on the box. Heat up the beans. Cut the broccoli and cauliflower into bit size pieces. Slice the carrots. Slice the bell pepper. The quantity of vegetables you use will depend on if you want to have leftovers or not. Ebert and I rarely have leftovers because we always eat everything. Once everything is cut then steam the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots in a big pot. Then, saute the garlic and red peppers in a pan. Once all the veggies are cooked, mix them together in a bowl with the oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Add as much as you like until the flavor suits your taste.
Once everything is cooked, cut yourself a big piece of cornbread and slice it in half. Then, top the cornbread with the beans, rice, veggies and cheese. Now, you have a delicious, yet simple and healthy meal. Doesn't this look delicious? For a little more kick you could also add some red pepper flakes to the veggies. This time we didn't add the rice and beans, but when you do it makes for a very hearty entree.