Thursday, November 13, 2014

Gallo Pinto with Sweet Potato

Just a few days ago I was walking the beach in Playa Negra, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.  We took a family vacation with my husband's side of the family.  We rented a house on the beach and spent the week having fun in the sun with the kids. What a beautiful country! The beaches were breathtaking, the countryside lush and green, and the people helpful and friendly. I had the chance to sneak away a few of times to submerge myself in the natural beauty and adventure the country is so well known for.

Playa Negra is a small surfing community. The only access to the small town is by dirt road, which puts it off the beaten track and therefore doesn't attract as many tourists.  The dark sand beaches and the quiet, laid back surfing vibe was just what we were looking for. With a surfing lesson being on a few of our bucket lists, we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to get introduced to this intriguing ocean sport.  As expected it is much more difficult than the professionals make it look, however we were all successful in getting up and experiencing the thrill of riding a wave. I suspect there will be more lessons in our future.

There are also many yoga retreats and lessons in Guanacaste. My sister in law and I joined an early morning class with a retreat in the area, Peace Retreat Yoga. What a wonderful class it was.  It was so different than what we are used to in Canada. The class was in a cozy jungle yoga hut, the sound of monkeys and birds chirping in the background. The class was much less formal than I am used to and it pushed us to our limit with every posture. I left the class feeling open, grounded and inspired.

The other excursion I was able to participate in was a SUP tour along a river, through the Mangroves. We paddled our way through the mangroves as the river narrowed. We could hear snails popping the mud as they dug and the birds singing. There was a calmness in the stillness of the river, but also an eeriness knowing there were crocodiles leering beneath the water.

Since we rented a house we prepared many meals ourselves.  We did have a local come in to prepare us authentic home cooking in the comforts of our borrowed home a couple of times, which was very relaxing and delicious I might add.  One of the traditional dishes of Costa Rica is Gallo Pinto or rice and black beans.  We ate these daily while in Costa Rica and I fell in love with them!

Here is my version of this simple, yet flavourful dish.

If you haven't had the opportunity to see this wonderful country, you should. We will definitely be going back to experience more of mother nature's playground and the delicious food.


1 1/2 cups rice
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can black beans
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil of your choice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

optional : 1 avocado, sliced, homemade salsa or Costa Rican Lizano Salsa


Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook rice in a large pot. While the rice is cooking bake sweet potatoes in the oven until tender.

While the rice is cooking and the sweet potatoes are in the oven sauté onions until they are golden brown. Add beans, garlic, cumin, coriander and turmeric to the pan and sauté for another two minutes.

When the rice is fully cooked, add the beans to the rice. Stir in the sweet potatoes and cilantro.

Top with sliced avocado and your favourite hot sauce to taste.

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