Eggplant, Red Pepper & Spinach Farro

Rather than cook a pasta salad or even cook pasta & sauce, I generally reach for a less processed whole grain such as farro, bulgur, amaranth, or quinoa. They all provide so much more from a nutrient standpoint, they offer different textures for variety, and they are much more filling and satisfying. This farro dish could be a great addition to a Father’s Day cookout this weekend! Continue reading

Lentil Burger Recipe

Here’s a delicious recipe to help in celebrating National Hamburger Day! It’s a good idea to go meatless if only for one day a week, and after all the Memorial Day grilling that Americans enjoyed this past weekend, a meatless burger is a fantastic filling and nutrient dense option. Continue reading

Black Bean Veggie Taco Recipe

Ground turkey tacos are a healthy alternative to ones made with ground beef, but with the report released this week about contaminated turkey, I decided to go vegetarian for this Cinco De Mayo! I have a plant-based vegetarian diet most of the time that includes eggs and fish, but tend to eat pasture-raised turkey or chicken on occasion a couple of times a month. In addition to the ground turkey news, I just covered food safety and technology in my classes at Bucks (talking about all the nasty bacteria, hormones, etc in animals and showing videos about their treatment), which means I will have no desire to consume any sort of meat for a while!

So here we go with some healthy, delicious, spicy-but-not-too-much, black bean and veggie tacos! My husband even made a mistake when having them for dinner and said “the seasoning on the meat is really flavorful”. He loves plant-based meals 🙂

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Because I was having some of the jalapeno cornbread I had just made, I opted for lettuce wraps instead of tortillas. Tim had them in my homemade garlic chili tortillas which added even more amazing flavor. You can also make a taco salad with some baked chips and top the salad, lettuce wrap, classic taco (or however you eat this!) with some guacamole for healthy fat and even more flavor. If you consume dairy, try greek yogurt in place of your sour cream. If you love Mexican food all year and not just on Cinco De Mayo like me, head to my Pinterest page for recipes that build a “Healthier Fiesta” including homemade tortillas, salsa and margaritas!

Do you love Mexican food too? Please comment and share your favorite recipes – I love trying new things!

Black Bean Veggie Tacos
(GF, V, DF)

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Ingredients
:

  • 2 Cups cooked from dry* or 1 can of black beans
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 medium-large onion, diced
  • 2 large whole carrots, shredded
  • 1 15 ounce can organic diced tomatoes with green chiles
    or 15 oz can diced tomatoes + 2 oz canned green chiles
  • 1 Cup packed fresh chopped kale or 1 Cup frozen spinach
  • Taco Seasoning
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder, paprika, cumin, black pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon each oregano, cayenne, salt

*Prepare with water & a dash of salt as indicated on package. They come out the most tender if you cook a full 1 1/2 hours but I recommend at least 45 min simmer and let sit an hour covered.

Directions

  • Prep ingredients as listed above.
  • Make your taco seasoning by mixing all the spices together.
  • Place a large saucepan over low-medium heat and add the oil
  • Add the garlic and hot peppers and stir for 1-2 minutes (do not let garlic turn brown).
  • Add the onions and shredded carrots, stir and cover for 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the beans and tomatoes and stir. Add all of the taco seasoning and stir well.
  • Cover and let simmer about 5 minutes.
  • Add kale and stir until wilted or thawed. Turn off the heat and serve!
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Real Ingredients with Real Health Benefits:

Black Beans are a great source of mono-unsaturated fat, potassium, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, iron, copper, magnesium & manganese. Black beans and kidney beans also provide calcium. Phytochemicals include lutein, epicatechin, quercetin and proanthocyanidin.

Onions & garlic are part of the same family, providing the phytochemicals allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health. Onions also provide Vitamins C, B6 and folate.

Carrots are most known for the role in eye health. This is because carrots have a high content of Vitamin A and other phytochemical carotenoids which not only support your eyes but also skin, hair and antioxidant systems. Carrots are also high in Vitamins C & K and the mineral potassium. Antioxidants work to keep your heart healthy and potassium is important for fluid balance and plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure. Celery contains many of the same nutrients.

Even though “superfood” has no definition, I refer to kale one. One serving gives you more than your daily need of Vitamins A, C and K. It is also a known vegetarian source of calcium and iron as well as magnesium and copper. In terms of phytochemicals, kale provides about 40 flavonoids which are great antioxidants.

Tomatoes pack in lots of Vitamins A, C, and the important fluid balance mineral Potassium. They are well known in terms of phytochemical content for their lycopene which is known for reducing risk of prostate cancer. This was one of the first phytochemicals that really made a name for itself. It is often forgetten that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.

Jalapeno peppers and green chiles contain capsaicin which has long been used for decreasing joint pain and inflammation topically but in the body may aid in appetite control, metabolism and intestinal inflammation. Oh and you aren’t the only one who gets a runny nose from spicy food – these peppers can all help clear your sinuses!

Canola Oil is my go to when I am cooking. While olive oil has great flavor and a good fat profile, canola oil actually has much more omega-3 than olive oil and even less saturated fat. I don’t eat animal products on a daily basis and my fish consumption is low, so using canola oil in cooking helps me meet my daily needs of omega 3. Since most canola oil in stores is genetically modified, choose an organic brand – it will still be cheaper than conventional olive oil.

Cayenne & chili powder all contain capsaicin. Capsaicin has long been used for decreasing joint pain and inflammation topically but in the body may aid in appetite control, metabolism and intestinal inflammation. Oh and you aren’t the only one who gets a runny nose from spicy food – these peppers can all help clear your sinuses!

Paprika is one of my favorite tasting spices and it actually contains a decent amount of Vitamins A, E, K, B6 ans riboflavin as well as some potassium. While there are many varieties of Paprika, they all have similar nutrition benefits and the generic one you see at the store is just fine! It’s phytochemical benefits are similar to cayenne and chili powder due to the capsicum.

Oregano actually contains manganese, iron and Vitamins A & K. It can also benefit your immune system as its phytochemicals like thymol are anti-bacterial.

While cumin does contain manganese, magnesium, calcium and especially iron, you generally do not get high amounts of those minerals since it is used in such small amounts in recipes. We do know however that cumin is a potent antioxidant containing phenolic acids and carotenoids.

“Faux Joe’s” – Lentil Sloppy Joe Recipe

*Updated 11/11/2014 with slow cooker version

Sloppy Joe’s don’t have to be a high fat comfort food. In fact, the meal can be heart healthy, nutrient dense, fiber rich, and protein packed, all without sacrificing flavor. When I made my lentil version this past week my husband said it officially topped of his list of favorite home-cooked meals! What’s great is that you can have Sloppy Joe’s on a bun like they’re classically served, or on top of salad greens as I prefer 🙂

Dry lentils cook much more quickly than dry beans, but you can always save time by tossing all the ingredients in your slow cooker and setting on low for 6-8 hours.

Lentil Sloppy Joe’s the classic way (w/ whole wheat sub roll from Whole Foods):blog 036
Lentil Sloppy Joe Salad (pictured w/ a slice of High Five Great Harvest Bread):lentil sloppy joe salad

Lentil Sloppy Joe on Avocado Toast – Food for Life Brand “Genesis” bread

(Added 8/1/16)


Faux Joe’s – Lentil Sloppy Joe’s
(GF, V, DF)


Ingredients
(see below for beneficial properties of these ingredients):

lentil sloppy joe ingredients

1 cup organic dried lentils – prepared with water as indicated on package
1 Tablespoon avocado or olive oil
3 cloves garlic minced*
1 medium- large onion, diced*
2 large whole carrots, finely diced or shredded*
1 15 ounce can organic diced tomatoes (I used the trader joe’s ones w/ green chiles)
or 15 oz can diced tomatoes + 2 oz canned green chili’s
4 oz tomato paste (2 oz if tomato paste concentrate)
1 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (depending on how much you like heat!)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

*Purchasing Tips: bagged organic onions are very economical from Trader Joe’s as are bagged organic carrots. Both can also be found for a good deal at BJ’s Wholesale, along with organic garlic.

Stove top Directions:
-Place a large saucepan or stockpot over low-medium heat and add the oil. Spread w/ rubber spatula so that it coats the bottom of the pan.
-Add the garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes (do not let garlic turn brown).
-Add the onions and carrots, stir and cover for 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
-Add the cooked lentils, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir well.
-Add all the spices, stir well and let simmer, covered for 3-5 minutes.*
-Add the maple syrup, stir, and remove from heat.

*If mixture seems too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of water at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Slow Cooker Directions:

-Add the garlic, onions, carrots, uncooked lentils, water or broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, syrup at once.
-Set heat on low for 8 hours.
-Stir occasionally if at home/awake. If you do not stir, that’s okay, you may have a small amount of residue on the side of the crock pot though.
-Serve up your dinner that took virtually no time at all!

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Serving Options:

-Dish up 1/6 of the mixture onto bread or roll of choice
-Top mixed greens with 1/6 of mixture
-New idea (10/2013) from my husband: sloppy joe nachos. I don’t eat cheese but he does on occasion and I am aware most readers probably do. Opt for low-fat extra sharp organic cheddar for flavor.

lentils
*Sports Nutrition*
Post endurance workout: Serve with bread, potatoes, or whole grain rice to maximize carb storage.
Post strength workout: as above, but also mix lentils with eggs and scramble.

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Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:

Lentils don’t get as much attention as they should. Per 1/4 C dry serving, at only 180 Calories, lentils provide more protein and iron than beans with 13 g and 3.6 mg respectively. You’ll get lots of B-vitamins from this legume, especially thiamin and folate. They’re also a great source of choline, potassium and many minerals. Lentils are high in both insoluble and soluble fiber; soluble being the type that helps reduce blood cholesterol levels.

Tomatoes pack in lots of Vitamins A, C, and the important fluid balance mineral Potassium. They are well known in terms of phytochemical content for their lycopene which is known for reducing risk of prostate cancer. This was one of the first phytochemicals that really made a name for itself. It is often forgetten that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.

Onions & garlic are part of the same family, providing the phytochemicals allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health. Onions also provide Vitamins C, B6 and folate.

Carrots are most known for the role in eye health. This is because carrots have a high content of Vitamin A and other phytochemical carotenoids which not only support your eyes but also skin, hair and antioxidant systems. Carrots are also high in Vitamins C & K and the mineral potassium. Antioxidants work to keep your heart healthy and potassium is important for fluid balance and plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure.

Canola Oil is my go to when I am cooking. While olive oil has great flavor and a good fat profile, canola oil actually has much more omega-3 than olive oil and even less saturated fat. I don’t eat animal products on a daily basis and my fish consumption is low, so using canola oil in cooking helps me meet my daily needs of omega 3. Since most canola oil in stores is genetically modified, choose an organic brand – it will still be cheaper than conventional olive oil.

Cayenne & chili powder all contain capsaicin. Capsaicin has long been used for decreasing joint pain and inflammation topically but in the body may aid in appetite control, metabolism and intestinal inflammation. Oh and you aren’t the only one who gets a runny nose from spicy food – these peppers can all help clear your sinuses!

Oregano actually contains manganese, iron and Vitamins A & K. It can also benefit your immune system as its phytochemicals thymol and carvacrol are anti-bacterial.

Nutrition Information (without lettuce or other toppings):

Servings: 6 (*Athletes may want to split into just 4 servings)
Calories: 205
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: < 0.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 36.5 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sugar: 10 g
Protein: 11 g
Sodium: 320 mg 14 %
Potassium: 700 mg 15%

Vitamin A: 26% Thiamin: 20% Riboflavin: 13%
Niacin: 12% Pant Acid: 18% Vitamin B6: 25%
Folate: 20% Vitamin C: 20% Vitamin E: 8%
Calcium: 6% Iron: 22% Zinc: 22%
Magnesium: 15% Copper: 46% Selenium: 8 %
Manganese: 53% Phosphorus: 17% Omega 3: 0.3 g (20%)

**vitamins & minerals are listed as % daily value; you may need more than 100% each day if you’re an athlete, have a deficiency disease, or other medical concerns

Updated 11/11/2014