Spicy Sweet Potato and Green Rice Burrito Bowl

Today I started watching Michael Pollan’s new docu-series on Netflix called Cooked.  The four-episode show is based on the author’s 2013 book by the same name that explores different methods of cooking and their evolutionary and cultural impacts on humankind, with the ultimate goal of “[issuing] a clarion call for a return to the kitchen in order to reclaim lost traditions and restore balance to our lives.”

Each episode focuses on a different natural element and its relationship to both ancient and modern cooking methods. In the “Fire” episode, Pollan delves into the cross-cultural tradition of barbecue by looking at fire-roasts of monitor lizards in Western Australia (which was difficult to watch!) and visiting with a barbecue pit master.  In the “Water” episode, he takes lessons from kitchens in India and covers the issues surrounding processed foods.  The third episode, titled “Air”, explores the science of bread-making and gluten, while the final episode, “Earth,” looks at how fermentation preserves raw foods.

Every episode also features Pollan in his home kitchen in Berkeley, California, with the intention of underscoring the viewpoint that “surrounded as we are by fast food culture and processed foods, cooking our own meals is the single best thing we can do to take charge of our health and well being.”

We couldn’t agree with you more Michael!  I encourage everyone to check out this series, it is very interesting and informational!

Ironically enough, prior to watching this docu-series, I had spent my day in the kitchen preparing various smoothies and meals for a client of mine.

My kitchen is absolutely my favorite room to be in and similar to Michael Pollan, my mission is to help lure people back into the kitchen with meals that inspire. 

This week’s recipe comes from another one of my favorite food bloggers, Cookie and Kate.  I love this recipe because similar to the Buddha Bowls we’ve featured, this burrito bowl is packed with the perfect combination of nutrients and food groups to keep you nourished and satiated.  It makes for a perfect dinner or lunch recipe.  Simply prepare a few of these bowls ahead of time and you have lunches for the week!

I’m also not the biggest fan of sweet potatoes, but the smoked paprika seasoning helps give them a beautiful savory and smoky flavor which balances the sweetness perfectly. Sometimes it just takes the right preparation or seasoning to transform a food you loathe into one you love!


Green Rice:

  • 3 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1½ cups long grain brown rice
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups baby spinach, lightly packed
  • ½ cup cilantro, lightly packed
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, roughly chopped

Sweet Potatoes:

  • 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, chopped into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Black Beans:

  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) black beans, with liquid
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chili powder


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line one large, rimmed baking sheet and one smaller sheet with parchment paper. Place the spinach, cilantro, jalapeño, shallot, garlic, salt and ½ cup of the vegetable broth in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the rice and stir to coat. Spread the rice in an even layer on the bottom of the pot and let the rice lightly brown. This happens quickly! When the rice starts to brown, stir it and spread it out in an even layer again so that more of the rice browns.
  3. When most of the rice has lightly browned, scrape the green purée into the rice. Stir until the rice is evenly coated with green purée and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for a minute. Add the rest of the vegetable broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover the pot. Cook the rice on a very low simmer until tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
  4. While the rice cooks, toss the sweet potatoes in the olive oil, smoked paprika and salt until the sweet potatoes are evenly coated in oil. Arrange in a single layer on your prepared baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, tossing halfway, until the sweet potatoes are tender and caramelizing at the edges.
  5. Meanwhile, transfer the beans and their cooking liquid (don't drain the beans) to a medium pot. Stir in the cumin and chili powder and warm over medium heat. Once the beans are simmering, cover the beans and reduce heat to maintain a very gentle simmer until you're ready to serve.
  6. Once the rice is done cooking, remove the pot from heat. Uncover the pot and place a clean terry towel or dish towel over the pot, then recover. The towel will help absorb excess liquid as the rice continues to cook in its own steam. (If you don't have a clean towel, you can skip this step, just cover normally.) Let sit for 10 minutes.
  7. Fluff the rice with a fork and season with salt if necessary. Remove beans from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Assemble your bowls: First add green rice, then use a slotted spoon or fork to transfer beans to the bowls. Top with sweet potatoes.
EntreesAlicia Uhl