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This is a quick, healthy side dish I came up with while I was cooking the rest of the meal for my friends. I had the enchiladas and rice. I was serving homemade salsa and guacamole with chips before dinner but something was still bothering me. I felt I didn’t have a balanced meal as yet. That is when beans came to mind.
As I started looking for recipe ideas for the refried beans, I realized most recipes called for frying the beans in pork fat or bacon. Normally I would add pancetta or bacon to the mix because as far as I am concerned, everything is better with bacon- but in this case I needed to make the dish vegetarian.
I started by cooking canned pinto beans in water and mashing them but left still them a bit chunky. As I was sauteing them with the onions and garlic, I kept thinking of a flavoring that would mimic the smokey flavor of bacon. Smoked paprika came to mind. That’s it- I thought. It was delicious paired with the creamy pinto beans, the onions and the garlic. In fact I would make this dish the same way again- why add extra calories with the bacon when I can achieve a similar flavor with the paprika?
I topped the dish with cilantro and queso fresco and the meal was well balanced, healthy and delicious!
Try these refried beans and you will never use the canned ones again!
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- I made this rice with the Mexican/Latin entree I was making for a small get together. I had initially thought of making Spanish rice with tomatoes, onions and garlic and lots of lime juice but when I thought of my main entree, I realized the enchiladas were cooked in a red sauce- and I didn’t want to make red rice with it. It would be drab looking. After doing some thinking- I came up with this green rice.
- One of the things I think of when coming up with a menu is presentation. I strive to have a colorful mix when serving any meal. We eat with our eyes first and it is very healthy to have foods of all different colors.
- In this case, I had baby spinach in the fridge- it is one of the staple vegetables you will always find at my house.
- I blended spinach, cilantro, green onions and garlic together and used the paste as the base for rice. It was delicious and paired really well with the enchiladas.
- This side dish is very versatile- serve it with chicken, fish or a steak. Pair it with a quesadilla or serve with some eggs and refried beans for breakfast. Speaking of refried beans- wait till you see how easy they are to make- recipe will be up tomorrow!
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I have been watching Rocco Disiprito talking about his new book- Now Eat This. He has taken everyday, unhealthy foods and reinvented them with fewer calories. He is all over television cooking these dishes and showing how people can still eat all the food they like and be healthy. I really do like some of the ingredients he uses to reduce the calories but I am not too keen on using artificial sweeteners, etc. The other problem I have with his concept is, I think people need to change their eating habits and incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their day instead of continuing eating pizza and fried chicken.
So, when I saw him bake these brownies, I was fascinated by his use of black beans instead of flour- wow, I thought. He also used an egg substitute as well as an artificial sweetener. I did some research on the Internet and found tons of black bean brownie recipes out there- so Rocco wasn’t the first one to use black beans in brownies. After reading a bunch of recipes, I came up with this. I used the black beans but used real organic eggs and raw sugar.
I baked them up and gave some to a bunch of neighborhood kids. They all enjoyed them and didn’t say anything about texture or flavor. I thought the brownies were delicious- they have a gooey, fudgy texture- thanks to the black beans.
While eating them, I realized they will be perfect for Passover. So, all of you out there who are celebrating Passover- have a joyous one and try the brownies- they are really good.
BTW, the green rice and refried beans recipes to follow tomorrow…
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This is a fabulous meal to make for company or if you just want to impress your family. It is a vegetarian meal but you can substitute any kind of meat in here including chicken, pork, shrimp or even fish.
I made this fabulous meal for a friend who was coming over with her family. They are vegetarian so I had to be careful and use vegetable broth where ever I normally use chicken broth, etc.
I made a delicious stuffing for the enchiladas with cremini mushrooms, onions and garlic. I added paprika and unsweetened cocoa. I wanted to emulate the mole sauce flavor which is a very labor intensive dish to make requiring lots of ingredients. I decided to introduce just the cocoa part to the stuffing to bring out the earthiness in the mushrooms.
I used whole-wheat tortillas- and guess what- no one noticed. Once the tortillas are doused with the super flavorful sauce, you can’t tell the difference. A perfect, sneaky way to make the dish healthy without anyone knowing.
I also cooked up some green rice and some quick vegetarian refried beans- recipes to follow tomorrow and the day after.
Definitely try making the mushroom enchiladas with new mexico red chilies- you will be impressed with yourself.
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I heard about these crackers on Joan Hamburg’s show when she was talking about a diet called the F-Factor which amongst other things, stresses on fiber. What got my attention was that most of us don’t get enough fiber in our diets. Even those of us who take the time out to make sure we are having enough fruits and vegetables. The crackers are called GG crackers and they claim to control appetite and are only 12 calories each.
Well, I thought these sounded really good. I went to Whole Foods to find them and there they were. I brought two packs home to test them out. First of all, they are not the kind of crackers you look forward to eating ever day. Four crackers a day will take care of about 80% of your required fiber intake- for that I don’t care what they taste like- I will eat them. I tried them with a smear of peanut butter and another time I spread some jam. I had them as a snack in between meals. I didn’t see much difference in terms of appetite control. I liked that I was getting a lot of fiber.
After a week or two of eating the crackers as a snack, I decided to incorporate them into a meal. I thought breakfast would be ideal- so I took three crackers, smeared some jam and scrambled an egg. Eating the crackers with the egg made them more tolerable and I was able to wash them down with my delicious coffee. I also had one more cracker with my lunch- which consisted of a salad with some protein and lots of veggies.
What a difference- I was far less hungry the whole day! I am hooked- I don’t miss eating regular bread with my breakfast and I certainly have not eliminated bread or pasta. This is just an additional thing I have incorporated into my daily routine.
Since it is Friday- it is a day to either highlight a top ten list or inform you of something I am very excited about- I thought writing about GG crackers would be ideal. They have the highest dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is a natural substance obtained from fruits, vegetables and cereals. Adequate fiber leads to lower cholesterol and is overall a good thing to add to your diet.
It is great to get fiber from fruits and vegetables but we would need to eat a whole lot to get about 25 grams for women and over 35 for men. So, if you want to incorporate more fiber in your diet- try these crackers.