Gallo Pinto

A Staple in a Blue Zone!


Beans Beans, they’re good for your heart, the more you eat, the…

longer you’ll live?! According to Dr. Michael Greger and Blue Zones’ founder Dan Buettner, one cup of beans per day can extend your life up to 4 years. I don’t know about you, but I am all in!

I love beans – I can eat them by themselves, in a bowl, with no seasoning. But I am weird like that.

Gallo Pinto (pronounced Guy-yo pinto) is a staple in Costa Rica. Nosara, CR is one of the Blue Zones – meaning it has one of the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world. Not only do they live to be a hundred, but they are active and living with few ailments. I’ve seen videos of 100-year-old men riding horses, and centenarian women out picking fresh produce from the garden for dinner.  In fact, every Blue Zone population eat beans regularly. Sardinia, Italy, Loma Linda, California, Ikaria, Greece and Okinawa Japan. So my goal is to have at least one serving of beans every day! How about you?



3 cups (or 2 cans) cooked black beans – save the bean liquid! Just drain into a bowl and set aside.

3 cups cooked rice (I like a long grain brown rice, but almost any will work)

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

5 cloves minced garlic (feel free to use the minced from a jar, about 1/2 tsp equals a clove)

2 T plus more for serving Salsa Lizano  (can find in a Latin market or world food store like Aldi or World Market or You can buy it here . 1 large bottle will last a long time!

1 tsp ground cumin

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Chopped cilantro (or parsley) for garnish

*if you can’t get your hands on a bottle of Salsa Lizano, you can add Vegan Worcestershire sauce and more cumin.

optional: seeded and finely chopped jalapeño pepper



Heat a large pot on medium high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, stirring frequently. When they start to stick add a splash of vegetable broth or water and continue stirring. When the onions are translucent, add the garlic and cook a minute or two more until fragrant. Add the rice and continue cooking, stirring periodically for about 5-7 minutes (don’t worry about some of it sticking to the bottom as the bean water will help deglaze). Add the drained beans, your sauce, cumin and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and stir into the rice with a cup of the bean water. Smash some of your beans with your spoon as you stir, cook another 10 minutes, stirring and adding bean water if it feels like it’s getting too dry. Taste for seasoning, garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with Salsa Lizano.

I love to have this with homemade baked tortillas (see our recipe) and chopped avocado.


Photograph of Lisa Rice in the kitchen

Lisa Rice

Sr. Health Mentor & Director of Content and Promotion
Photograph of Lisa Rice in the kitchen

Lisa Rice

Sr. Health Mentor & Director of Content and Promotion