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Black Bean Tacos

A couple years ago, our family was at a bit of a crossroads. My husband was having a hard time finding a permanent job. We were beginning to feel the stress of what to do with our lives when a job offer came that totally reset the trajectory of his career. To celebrate, we went out to eat at a fun Mexican restaurant in Chicago. As I was pregnant, I was being extra careful to try and eat “healthy”. So I ordered the vegetarian burrito. I love that restaurant, but that burrito was disgusting.

I often find that the case with Mexican vegetarian dishes when I go out to eat. I’ve actually become very wary of them. They just don’t taste right to me. My guess is because they throw in strong flavored veggies that just don’t blend in well (like tons of broccoli in the burrito mentioned above). If you have found some places with good options, let me know. I’d love to try them.

In response, I have made it my mission to make awesome vegetarian versions of Mexican dishes at home. These black bean tacos were pretty great. I didn’t miss the meat, although I’m sure my husband did. I tried to focus on vegetables that made sense or at least had very mild flavors. Enjoy!

Black Bean Tacos (Serves about 4)

Black Bean Tacos

½ tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, diced small (seeds and membranes removed per preference)
1 zucchini, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tablespoon cumin
½ tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 cans low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup frozen corn
4 whole wheat tortillas
½ cup shredded cheese
sour cream (optional)
guacamole (optional)

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño. Saute for 5-7 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add zucchini; cook for 3 minutes more.

2. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Saute 1 minute, or until beginning to be fragrant, stirring frequently.

3. Add tomatoes, beans, and corn. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5 or so minutes, until everything is heated through and combined well.

4. Serve in tortillas with cheese, sour cream, guacamole, or your favorite taco toppings.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 427
Protein: 21 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 14 mg
Carbohydrates: 63 g
Fiber: 20 g
Sodium: 732 mg

Recipe Notes: I recently have been subbing pinto beans in many recipes for black beans with great success. Sometimes, I almost like the pinto version better. While I haven’t tried it with these yet, feel free to mix up the beans. Maybe a mix of black and pinto. Or garbanzo beans would also be tasty here.

Source: original recipe

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Roasted Red Pepper Chowder

Summer or at least summer weather has finally arrived at my house.  Warmer days means I want lighter meals that take less time to prepare.  Soup doesn’t seem very summery to most people, but my family has actually found quite a few soups that are good in the summer.  I do shy away from some options, like I don’t make much minestrone or chili during the summer.  But light, quick-cooking soups are a great summer dinner.  Zucchini soup is a definite go to, for sure.

The word “chowder” in the title of this recipe seems odd to me.  To me chowder is creamy, thick, and laden with potatoes.  None of those describe this soup.  It is a “full” soup though, so you aren’t just swimming in broth like a chicken noodles soup.  I loved how quickly all the flavors in this came together to create something satisfying.  And the corn and peppers make it taste like summer.  Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper Chowder (Serves 2-3)

Roasted Red Pepper Chowder

2 red peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder (more per your heat preference)
2 cups low sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 (15 ounce) can reduced sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 avocado
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup nonfat sour cream

1. Coat red peppers with cooking spray. Place on a grill over medium to medium high heat. Cook, rotating, until each side is lightly charred. Remove from heat and place in a paper bag. Let stand for at least 10 minutes. Remove as much of peel as possible. Discard stem and seeds.

2. Heat olive oil in a medium to large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Saute onion until beginning to become tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and chile powder. Cook 1 minute more.

3. Add roasted pepper and chicken broth. In a blender or with an immersion blender, blend until smooth (or mostly smooth, in my case). Return to pan and to heat.

4. Add beans, corn, and lime juice. Simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat. Serve with sliced avocado, cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 517
Protein: 19 g
Fat: 24 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 3 mg
Carbohydrates: 65
Fiber: 21 g
Sodium: 803 mg

Recipe Notes: I highly recommend “roasting” several peppers at a time. I did four, since I needed that many for recipes that week. It doesn’t take any longer to do more, and then you have them. You can go all the way to peel them and then store them. Or I just put the bags into the fridge to cool and did all the peeling and cleaning as I needed them. I was silly and put my soup in a food processor, which did not work very well at chopping all of this up. It still tasted good and the consistency did not bother me. The soup pictured also probably has more beans than 1 can of beans. I cook beans in large batches in a crockpot and then freeze them for later in plastic bags. I probably get about 1 ½ cups, whereas I think a can of beans is around 1 cup of beans. Honestly, I don’t know that it is any cheaper this way. I just like doing it for some reason. I know the fat looks REALLY high in this dish. It is because of the avocado. Monounsaturated fats are good for you – read here.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

Low iodine adjustment: Use an iodine or salt free broth. Use homemade beans or unsalted beans. Omit the sour cream on top. You may want to add ½ teaspoon non iodized salt in step 4 for seasoning.

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Slow Cooker Veggie Sweet Potato Chili

I just spent a good chunk of my morning playing outside with my daughter.  The weather is absolutely beautiful today, and tomorrow it all goes to pot.  It will be cold and windy.  No more swings and parks and playing in the leaves.  I’m sad.

A nice bowl of warm chili makes the prospect of actually seasonal weather seem less gloomy to me.  I like traditional, meaty chili well enough, but I love the extra boost of flavor and texture that sweet potatoes bring to this chili.  And there are so many veggies, you won’t miss the meat.  I promise.

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Veggie Sweet Potato Chili (Serves 6-8)

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1 large red onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped carrot
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into about ½ inch cubes
½-1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more if desired for heat
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 (14.5 ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes, including liquid
1 (15.5 ounce) can low sodium kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15.5 ounce) can low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15.5 ounce) can low sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
up to 4 cups low sodium vegetarian broth
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream, optional
diced green onions, optional
grated cheese, optional

1. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker, adding enough broth last to just cover the rest of the ingredients.

2. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours, until sweet potatoes are tender and chili has thickened slightly. About an hour before it is done, taste test and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Serve with sour cream, diced green onions, or shredded cheese, if desired

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 207
Protein: 12 g
Fat: 2.5 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 37 g
Fiber: 11 g
Sodium: 231 mg

Recipe notes: I didn’t find it needed any salt. But I did serve it with cheese on top, which adds some salt.  If you aren’t worried about it being vegetarian, chicken or beef broth would also work

Source: adapted from Real Simple and Cookie and Kate

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