Monday, February 20, 2012

NO Mashed Potatoes: SUB Creamy Cannellini Beans

 Until recently, I didn’t believe that anyone was immune to mashed potatoes.  Unabashedly, they deny heaping dinner platters of soft, pillowy goodness I find irresistible.   How could such a quintessential comfort food be overlooked or undervalued?

Under a critical lens, I discovered the void of nutrients and healthful qualities. Mashed potatoes were mostly filler and fluff.  For the 33g of carbohydrates you take in from 1 cup of mashed potatoes, you only gain 4g of protein and 3g of fiber.  What the fluff?!  So, although it may be soul food sacrilege, I gave the classic comfort food a wholesome, healthy makeover using Cannellini beans.
In half the time, using the same food processing tools you would use to make regular mashed potatoes, you can quadruple the protein and fiber simply by substituting Cannellini beans.  With 19g of protein and 13g of fiber per 1 cup, it was worth the calories and carbs.  Plus, by adding herbs and garlic to the mix, the taste allowed you to forgive the fact that it was non-traditional. 

Beans are trendy – hummus, anyone? It’s just chickpeas! So why not try out a new creamy bean recipe.  You can have it however you like.  I ate it hot, as a side dish to grilled flank steak.  I ate it cold, as a dip for julienned strips of crunchy carrot and fresh red pepper.  I spread it on toast.  I scooped it with chips and pretzels.  There’s truly no wrong way to eat it.  So whether you’ve only got 20 minutes between classes, or you just aren’t in the mood for ‘taters tonight, this is the go-to for you!   
Mashed Cannellini Beans (Dip, Spread, Side Dish…etc.)

1 can (15oz) cannellini beans, drained (reserve liquid) and rinsed
1-2 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp ground sage
½ tsp rosemary, finely chopped
1 T fresh parsley or cilantro, finely chopped

1.       Drain beans, reserve liquid.  Rinse beans.
2.       In food processor, combine beans, 1 T olive oil, garlic, sage, rosemary, and cilantro.  Blend on high speed.
3.       Continue to add bean liquid and/or olive oil depending on your preference of texture and taste (olive oil will impart stronger flavor than bean liquid).
4.       Blend to desired consistency.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Simple Greek Avocado Quinoa Salad

A salad made for simpletons.  Okay, so maybe the term is a bit pejorative, but you get the idea.  This recipe is as easy as chopping vegetables and following package instructions.  Yet, the final product is vibrant and delectably gourmet.  Plus, quinoa is that magically filling grain that is guilt and gluten free, so it won’t weigh you down or leave you hankering for more.
Tonight’s dinner was one of those “throw-this-together- after-work-because-I’m-starving” deals.  When I’m hungry there isn’t time to spare on being hung up on some missing ingredient from an over-the-top recipe.  So, while it is no great date meal or anything fancy to impress the folks with, it was just what I needed for dinner tonight.  
 The texture was a perfect yin yang – the crunchy quinoa contrasted with the velvetiness of the avocado made for textural bliss.  The taste was fresh and perky – tomatoes, parsley, and feta are naturally bright and lively flavors that made the salad taste light and refreshing.   I’m not a huge fan of salads when they are made up of “rabbit food”, i.e. bags of pre-chopped iceburg lettuce.  But this is the kind of salad I’ll have seconds of. 
For those days when you are on the go, this is a healthful, tasty salad that would be a perfectly packable lunch or a super side salad.
 Simple Greek Avocado Quinoa Salad
½ cup quinoa
1 avocado, ¼ inch cubes
½ cup grape tomatoes, quartered
2 green onions, sliced
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup feta cheese
Salt and pepper

1.       Cook quinoa according to package instructions (I use broth instead of water and add ½ a clove of garlic for more flavor).
2.       Prepare all other salad ingredients.
3.       Mix together quinoa and salad ingredients, hot or cold and enjoy! Yep, it’s that easy.