Cooking up Change at Home: Red Beans and Rice

September 23, 2016 | Written By:

Ever wish you could try the winning dishes from Cooking up Change? Well, here’s your chance. Each month, we’ll share a Cooking up Change recipe so you can try the meal at home and taste firsthand how these students are changing the future of school food.

Healthy Schools Campaign’s Cooking up Change contest challenges high school culinary students to create a healthy and delicious school meal that can be served in a school cafeteria. Cooking up Change is not only fun and educational, but it also adds student voices to the national conversation about school food. Through Cooking up Change, these young chefs do more than sharpen their culinary skills; they develop leadership, public speaking and team building skills and create relationships and networks that will last a lifetime.

Today, we present the main dish of the menu that won the very first Cooking up Change competition in Chicago in 2007. As we gear up for the 10th Cooking up Change on Nov. 17, we’re excited to look back at a decade of amazing recipes.

Looking back at old recipes is a great way to see just how far school food has come in the past 10 years. In the winning side dish recipe from 2007, the team uses sugar, which is not allowed is today’s Cooking up Change recipes.

The team from the Chicago Vocational Career Academy won the first Cooking up Change with red beans and rice, smothered cabbage and candied carrots—still the only vegetarian recipe to win. Read more about Cooking up Change alum Nyah Griffin and what she’s accomplished in the past 10 years.

Red Beans and Rice

Serves 8

  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon, no MSG*
  • 2 15 ounce cans red kidney beans
  • 1 teaspoon butter or butter alternative
  • ¼ diced onion
  • ¼ diced green pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup rice
  • Water
  1. Drain and rinse beans; set aside. Put 2 cups of water into a medium pot. Add the bouillon and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and green pepper and saute until tender.
  3. Add beans, onion and green pepper to boiling broth.
  4. Add Cajun seasoning, sugar, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. Turn heat down to low; cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile put 2 cups of water and rice together in a small pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Serve beans over rice. Enjoy!

*The bouillon and water in step 1 can be substituted with 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth.

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