Students learn to make low-cost burrito bowls

California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and the Basic Needs Initiative program partnered with the Title IX office to demonstrate how to construct a homemade Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl on Oct. 1. The Cooking with CSUMB class paired with the Title IX office’s Knowing Each Other series that highlights survival needs in pandemics, focusing on the current COVID-19 situation.

Masters of social work intern Emily Bachmeier was inspired to teach students how to create their own Chipotle bowls at home in hopes to cut back on the cost of eating out. “I wanted to do this recipe because I love Chipotle,” Bachmeier said. “But I realized I was spending too much money.”

Instead of sacrificing the delicious taste and quick convenience of Chipotle, Bachmeier was determined to recreate the healthy meal in the comfort of her own kitchen. “It’s versatile to interchange throughout the week,” Bachmeier said. Requiring minimal prep and cook time, the burrito bowl compliments an array of diverse palettes.

Bachmeier started the demonstration by wrapping buttered corn in foil and roasting it in the oven for 25 minutes. After getting the corn going, Bachmeier began boiling water to cook the white rice. Adding salt to the rice will help increase the stickiness.

Bachmeier promoted sustainability throughout her lesson. “All of the scraps for today will be going into our table compost bin,” she said. 

While using either chicken breasts or thighs is acceptable, Bachmeier opted for chicken breasts in her Chipotle recreation. Seasoned with chili powder, roasted garlic powder, salt and pepper, Bachmeier pan grilled the chicken in a lightly-oiled cast iron skillet.

“I always place everything dealing with the raw chicken on the same chicken cutting board,” Bachmeier said. 

Those who prefer a non-poultry dish can substitute the meat for beef or ground turkey. The highly customizable bowl also accommodates vegetarian diets, allowing every student the ability to dig in.

Bachmeier’s family has grown heirloom tomatoes for many years, and uses the same seeds from those tomatoes each season when beginning their next gardening cycle. She chopped up one of those tomatoes, whose seeds have been passed down through her family’s generations, some ripe avocado, red onion and a heaping handful of cilantro to garnish the bowl’s mixture.

Bachmeier advised students to practice food safety before assembling their bowls, reminding them to check the thickest part of the chicken to ensure it’s cooked completely before eating. Additionally, care manager of the Basic Needs Initiative Joanna Snawder-Manzo advocated to stay away from dull knives to prevent cuts.

“A sharp knife is a safe knife,” Snawder-Manzo said.

Layering the burrito bowl with white rice finished with squeezed lime, black beans, roasted corn from the oven, skillet grilled chicken and a plethora of topping options, Bachmeier showed students a budget conscious, appetite-inducing alternative to the fast-food chain. 

The Title IX series Knowing Each Other is proud to discuss racial and xenophobic issues next semester. The Basic Needs Initiative program will be hosting another Cooking with CSUMB demonstration on Oct. 8 where students have the opportunity to win $25 e-gift cards.

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