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Roasted Green Beans

I’m sure I have waxed poetic about my dislike of canned green beans on this site before. Thanksgiving means green bean casserole for most families. No offense to anyone out there who loves it, but just thinking about it makes me kind of sick. The only good part is the crispy onions on top.

My solution: can the cans. Get rid of the canned beans, the cream soup, and the canned fried onions. Start with fresh ingredients. Add some balsamic vinegar and my favorite new seasoning mix, and you have a vegetable side dish to be thankful for. Enjoy!

Roasted Green Beans (Serves 4)

Roasted Green Beans

1 pound green beans, trimmed
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt free garlic and herb seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil.

2. Toss all ingredients together. Spread in one layer on baking sheet. Roast for about 15 minutes, until desired tenderness. Toss again before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 78
Protein: 2 g
Fat: 4 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 11 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 9 mg

Recipe notes: My new favorite seasoning blend is this one from McCormick. I put it on everything lately. But feel free to use whatever seasoning blend you like. Some garlic powder and Italian seasoning would also work well.

Source: adapted from Emeril Lagasse

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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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French Onion Soup + Lightened up Grilled Cheese

I asked my husband what his favorite vegetable was once.   He thought for a long time and said, “Peas, corn, and maybe carrots.”  This is the man that has NEVER eaten a dish that he thought had too many onions, and believe me I have tried. I would guess that most of us forget that onions are even a vegetable, and yet, many of us eat more onions in a year than about any other vegetable.

Onions add to the rainbow of color I mentioned last week.  High in vitamin C, fiber, and several phytochemicals, onions are nutritionally beneficial beyond the flavor they add to your food.

I know onions can be strong, but caramelizing onions takes away the strong onion flavor and enhances the natural sweetness.  Caramelized onions are great on sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs as well as in chili and some pasta dishes.  This french onion soup is the perfect soup for a multi-course holiday dinner – full of flavor but very light.  You could serve this with a more traditional cheesy toast on top, but I prefer a grilled cheese.

Enjoy!

French Onion Soup  (Serves 4-6)

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2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
3 cups low sodium beef broth
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1. In large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until beginning to lightly brown. Add salt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until they are a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes.

2. When onions are sufficiently caramelized, add garlic powder. Sauté for about a minute, until fragrant.

2. Add broths, water, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and bay leaf. Scrap bottom of pot when adding broths to get any brown bits off the bottom. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in vinegar. Serve warm. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 161
Protein: 7 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 15 mg
Carbohydrates: 19 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sodium: 268 mg

Recipe Notes: I’m including a process shot for those who haven’t caramelized onions before. This took at least 20 minutes, and I’d keep going. Caramelizing onions takes patience. Take deep breaths, and give them time. It kind of looks like a watery mess at some points. That is just the water coming out of the onions, which is good. I know this seems like a lot of onions. But they are kind of like leafy greens – they shrink a lot when cooked.

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I would be fibbing if I said this was my favorite soup ever. It was very tasty. I’m just more of a soup-as-a-meal rather than soup-as-a-course person.

Source: Adapted from Keeping Up Cookbook

Lightened Grilled Cheese (Makes 4 sandwiches)

4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
8 slices whole wheat bread
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1. Combine cream cheese and shredded cheese. Divide evenly between 4 bread slices. Top with remaining bread for sandwiches.

2. Heat a skillet to medium to medium-high heat. Place ¼ teaspoon of olive oil on skillet and place 1 sandwich on top, swirling sandwich a bit to coat with oil. Repeat for remaining sandwiches. When browned, flip sandwich, putting another ¼ teaspoon of olive oil under each sandwich mid-flip. Brown second side.

Nutritional Information (Amount per sandwich):

Calories: 341
Protein: 18 g
Fat: 16 g
Saturated Fat: 8 g
Cholesterol: 40 mg
Carbohydrates: 31 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sodium: 412 mg

Recipe Notes: You could use whatever shredded cheese you prefer. Swiss cheese and french onion soup are a classic combo. These are a little more intense than traditional grilled cheese, I know. But they are very good and cut quite a bit of fat.

Source: slightly adapted from Cooking Light

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