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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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Shrimp and Grits with Greens

My mom’s family is from the South. While we ate plenty of other things, Southern cuisine definitely falls into my personal “soul food” category. However, we ate our grits as a breakfast food with eggs. Occasionally, my mom also ventured into a cheesy grit soufflé dish that was outstanding and featured copious amounts of Velveeta.

But shrimp and grits? While it may be a Southern classic, it wasn’t even on our radar. After eating several restaurant versions and trying this recipe at home, I was definitely missing out. This version of the classic is lightened up and heavy on the greens. I liked how this recipe opted for mustard greens, since I find them to be milder and less tough than traditional collard greens or chard.

Enjoy!

Shrimp and Grits with Greens (Serves 4)

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3 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken stock, divided
2 cups skim milk
3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup old-fashioned grits
½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
¼ cup chopped green onions
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
½ cup sliced yellow onion
3 cloves minced garlic, divided
1 tablespoon honey, divided
1 large bunch mustard greens, deveined and torn into large leaves
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
2 teaspoons paprika

1. Bring 2 cups stock, milk, and 1/2 teaspoon pepperto a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in grits. Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook 15-20 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and green onions. Keep grits warm.

2. While grits are cooking, heat a large skillet with 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add yellow onions and 2 cloves garlic to pan; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup stock, 1 teaspoon honey, and ½ teaspoon pepper; bring to a boil. Cook 6 minutes or until reduced to about ¼ cup. Add greens to pan. Cover and cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove mixture from pan; keep warm.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Combine shrimp, 2 teaspoons pepper, 2 teaspoons oil, 1 clove garlic, 2 teaspoons honey, and paprika in a bowl; toss gently to coat. Add shrimp to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Shrimp will be pink when done. Add remaining ¼ cup stock to pan; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Serve shrimp over grits with greens.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories:  470
Protein:  41 g
Fat:  11 g
Saturated Fat:  3 g
Cholesterol:  226 mg
Carbohydrates:  54 g
Fiber:  6 g
Sodium:  420 mg

Recipe Notes: My honest preference is stone-ground grits. I couldn’t find any, so I chose old fashioned. The original recipe calls for quick-cooking. The less quickly the grits cook, the better the texture, I have found. If adapted for a different kind of grits, just divide the amount of liquid on the package in half between broth and milk. Cook according to package timing. I highly recommend trying stone ground grits, especially if you think you don’t like grits. It is a different taste and texture for a different experience.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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