Southwestern Salad

Spinach Salad with Black Beans, Grilled Chicken and Avocado

This simple salad is a must-try for summer. I am always trying to make my salads interesting by using different textures and flavors. Black beans and chicken add protein and flavor to this bed of veggies, while avocado adds satisfying texture. Also, this Southwestern-style salad has a kick to it – perfect for the summer heat!

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Ingredients (serves 1):

3 oz grilled chicken breast, grilled with spices (chili powder, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper) *This is a great use of leftovers. No leftovers and don’t feel like cooking a chicken breast for lunch? I like Applegate Farms Fully Cooked Southwestern Style Grilled Chicken Breast  strips

2 Tbsp cooked black beans (*If canned, look for Low-Sodium or No Salt Added varieties and rinse in a colander)

1/4 avocado, chopped

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 C cucumber slices

2 C spinach, raw

2 Tbsp sweet corn kernels (*I like to use frozen sweet corn kernels and simply microwave them or thaw them before use)

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

2 Tbsp roasted red pepper dressing (I like Greenway’s Organic Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette)

Directions:

1. Place spinach in medium-sized bowl. Add avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, corn and red bell pepper.

2. Warm black beans in microwave (about 25 seconds). Add to salad.

3. Warm chicken in microwave (about 1 minute) and chop. Add to salad.

4. Drizzle dressing over salad and enjoy!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 342 calories, Total Fat 15 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 56 mg, Carbohydrates 30 g, Fiber 11 g, Protein 29 g, Sodium 362 mg, Calcium 114 mg

A Very Veggie Black Bean Quinoa Burger

Veggie Black Bean Quinoa Burger

A veggie burger is a great meatless alternative for summer days, but they can sometimes be loaded with breading, fillers and oil and actually be less healthy than other burger options. This version is made with good-for-you ingredients and is held together with red quinoa – a tasty whole grain. Fill up with protein, fiber and a handful of vitamins from this lightened-up veggie black bean quinoa burger!

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Ingredients (serves 8):

1 C red quinoa, dry

1 zucchini, sliced and sliced again into quarters

1/2 C chopped white button mushrooms

1 small onion, chopped

1 can (15 oz) black beans (*Note: Try to find a “No Salt Added” variety and drain beans under water in a colander.)

1 large garlic clove, minced

1.5 Tbsp olive or canola oil

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

IMG_1305Directions:

1. Cook quinoa according to box directions (you will likely need 2 C tap water to boil with the quinoa). Once quinoa is ready, set aside 3/4 C (cooked) for this recipe. Store remaining quinoa in an airtight container and use leftovers within a few days (quinoa is great in salads, as a side dish or combine it with sautéed veggies or fruit!)

2. Warm oil in medium pan (it helps to have one with sides, since it will get full) over medium heat.

3. Add onions to pan and cook 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and zucchini and cook another 5 minutes.

4. Add garlic, 1 C black beans and spices to pan. Cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Place veggies in food processor. Add 1/2 C quinoa. Process mixture until pureed, about 15-30 seconds. Add mixture to large bowl and fold in remaining quinoa (for this recipe) and black beans.

7. Spray two 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray. Take 1/4 C dry measuring cup and scoop mixture into hands, forming balls and pressing down to form patties. You should be able to fit about 4 patties in each dish.

8. Bake patties 15-20 minutes on each side, until the outside is browned and crispy. Serve over bed of greens or a bun and enjoy!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

I put my burger on a bed of greens with tomato, cucumber and pepper - just  top with patty and dressing!

I put my burger on a bed of greens with tomato, cucumber and pepper – just top with patty and dressing!

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving (1 serving = 1 patty)

Calories 165 calories, Total Fat 4 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 25 g, Fiber 5 g, Protein 7 g, Sodium 301 mg, Calcium 43 mg

 

Easy Huevos Rancheros Scramble

Huevos Rancheros

Clearly, I had some extra black beans, guacamole and salsa to use from yesterday’s unwrapped shrimp burrito. This morning, I made an amazing huevos rancheros scramble – and it only took about 15 minutes. This is going to be my new summer brunch special. With fiber from the black beans, monounsaturated fat from the avocado, beta-carotene from the tomatoes in the salsa and protein from the eggs, this breakfast is a nutritional powerhouse – and it’s delicious, too!

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Ingredients (serves 1):

2 large eggs

2 Tbsp onion, chopped

2 Tbsp bell pepper, chopped

1/4 C black beans (*Note: If using canned black beans, look for a “No Salt Added” variety and rinse under water in colander.)

2 Tbsp guacamole (Try making your own using my simple recipe here!)

2 Tbsp salsa

1/2 oz. reduced-fat, shredded Mexican Blend cheese

splash skim milk

dash salt

dash pepper

1/2 tsp butter (or margarine)

Directions:

1. Heat butter  in small skillet over medium heat.

2. Add onions to skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add peppers to onions in skillet. Cook another 5-7 minutes, stirring occassionally.

4. Add black beans to skillet. Cook another 1-2 minutes.

5.Crack eggs in medium bowl. Add splash of skim milk, salt and pepper. Whisk well and add to skillet.Cook eggs until dry and cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. Continue to stir and scramble occasionally.

6. Add guacamole, salsa and cheese. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 340 calories, Total Fat 20 g, Saturated Fat 8 g, Cholesterol 380 mg, Carbohydrates 20 g, Fiber 4 g, Protein 21 g, Sodium 701 mg, Calcium 305 mg

*Note: Sodium content may vary greatly based on brands used for guacamole, salsa, cheese and beans. 

Unwrapped Shrimp Burrito

Unwrapped Shrimp Burrito

In this hot weather, I like to lighten things up. For this dish, I went tortilla-less and made a mixed plate filled with burrito-y goodness. Spicy shrimp, onions, peppers and black beans offer a ton of flavor for minimal calories. Plus, the only grain on this plate is brown rice – a whole grain. This dish lets you spice things up while staying light and cool in the heat.

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Ingredients (serves 2):

1/2 lb. large, uncooked, shrimp

1 C brown rice (*Note: I like Trader Joe’s frozen, microwaveable brown rice – it’s ready to serve in just 3 minutes.)

1 green bell pepper

3/4 large onion

1/2 C black beans (*Note: If canned, use a “no salt added” version and rinse under water using a colander. If not using canned beans, beans should be ready to use for this recipe.)

1/4 C salsa (I like Whole Foods Medium Salsa – it has all fresh ingredients and skimps on sugar and salt)

1/4 C guacamole (Try making your own using my simple recipe – here!)

1 oz reduced-fat, shredded Mexican Blend cheese

1 Tbsp olive or canola oil plus 1 tsp

dash salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

dash cayenne pepper (optional – depends if you like your food spicy!)

IMG_1287Directions:

1. Warm 1 Tbsp oil in large skillet over medium heat. Warm remaining 1 tsp oil in separate, small skillet over medium heat.

2. Wash bell pepper, remove stem and seeds and pat dry with paper towel. Cut into thin slices. Set aside.

3. Cut onion into thin, lengthwise strips. Add to large skillet. Cook 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. On a separate cutting board, cut or pull the tails off of each shrimp. Remove the long vein that runs along the center of each shrimp. Cut each shrimp into thirds.

5. Add peppers and spices to large skillet with onions. Cook another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Add shrimp to small skillet. If desired, add extra spices to shrimp skillet. Cook until shrimp are cooked through and no longer translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally.

7. Cook brown rice as directed (if using Trader Joe’s Frozen Brown Rice, pop in the microwave for 3 minutes and let stand 1 minute.)

8. Add cooked shrimp and black beans to large skillet with vegetables. Combine. Add cheese, stir and remove from heat.

9. Place 1/2 C brown rice on each plate. Cover each plate of rice with half the shrimp and veggie mixture. Top each plate with 2 Tbsp  guacamole and 2 Tbsp salsa. Enjoy!

The Goods: What’s Inside?IMG_1289

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 495 calories, Total Fat 20 g, Saturated Fat 6 g, Cholesterol 180 mg, Carbohydrates 46 g, Fiber 7 g, Protein 35 g, Sodium 700 mg, Calcium 316 mg

*Note: Sodium content will vary greatly depending on brands used for guacamole, cheese, salsa and beans. This estimation uses varieties with sodium in order to account for a possible range.