Mexican Black Bean Quinoa Burger

I love burgers especially those huge juicy, cheesy ones topped with tons of fun things! However, I am always willing to try new things–especially if means a healthy alternative. In anticipation of our vacation next week, I decided to stick with low carb and low-calorie meals.  For that reason I opted to rest the burger on a bed of kale and spinach but I this would be phenomenal on a bun! I tried black bean burgers on their own which were delicious but the quinoa makes the burger a bit more hearty and filling.  As far as toppings go, the options are endless. I went with a small scoop of guacamole and some tomatillo salsa I had on hand. You could do caramalized onions, a fried egg, sautéed mushrooms, cheese, and much much more.

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Ingredients:

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  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • bell peppers (I used baby red, orange and yellow for nice color), chopped

Peppers

  • 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper for heat (optional)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 egg
  • 3 scallions, chopped (you can use onion instead)
  • 2-3 chopped garlic cloves
  • Avocado for topping
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Chili powder (1/2 – 1 TBSP)
  • Cumin (1 teaspoon)

Instructions:

  • Cook 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups liquid (water or chicken broth)
  • Strain the can of black beans and place in a bowl. Using a fork, mash up the beans so it will form into a burger. If you need to add a splash of water it will help the process along.

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  • Add the chopped ingredients to your bean mixture. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the ingredients and if you like lime zest like I do, add some to the bowl as well.  
  • Season with chili powder, salt, pepper and cumin.

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  • Add the cooked quinoa and egg to the bowl and mix well. I made 2 very large burgers with these ingredients. It might be more manageable to make 4 smaller patties – but it’s your call. 

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  • Heat a flat pan to medium high heat and spray with olive oil.
  • Place your burgers on the pan and cook until you crisp up each side and the ingredients head through (about 4-5 minutes per side)


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  • While they are cooking place half an avocado in a bowl with fresh lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix well to place on top of your burger.
  • Serve your healthy and flavor packed black bean burgers!

Black Bean Quinoa Burger

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Black Bean Soup

Black bean soup has been on my food bucket list for a while now. (Yes, I have a food bucket list– which includes foods that I have never attempted to make. i.e. crab cakes, sushi, homemade ravioli, etc). Black beans are good for you and I happen to love them. And loving black beans is clearly a pre-requisite for making this soup. It’s easy to make and it’s a low-calorie, healthy anytime meal/snack (Kyle and I calculated a hefty bowl being under 300 calories). If you puree the entire batch (instead of adding ingredients back in for a hearty more chunky soup), it can be used as a delicious sauce on top of chicken or in a burrito. I know the photo doesn’t exactly make you salivate but I promise it’s good, real good. There were two ingredients I didn’t have in my house which I highly recommend adding; fresh lime juice for some acidity and fresh cilantro for a finishing touch.

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INGREDIENTS:
-4 cans organic black beans
-3-4 cloves of garlic
-1 red bell pepper
-1 Spanish onion
-Olive oil (for sauteing)
-1 Anaheim chile pepper (a jalapeño or other hot pepper of your preference is fine)

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-Broth – chicken, vegetable or beef is fine. It’s a matter of preference. I used vegetable because I had it on hand. I used about 1 box.
-Squirt of tomato paste (optional)
-Seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano
-Optional Toppings: reduced fat sour cream, cheese, avocado, cilantro

INSTRUCTIONS:
-In a large soup pan on med-high heat, add chopped onions with salt and pepper. Let cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add in the peppers and garlic. Stir and let cook for another minute.
-Add the strained and rinsed black beans to the pot and mix well (personal preference, not necessary). Season with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Stir again making sure everything is evenly coated. Let cook for a few minutes.

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-Take about 2/3 of the ingredients out and put in a small bowl to the side.
-Add your broth of choice. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.

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-Using your hand held mixer puree the soup until smooth. If you feel your soup is not thick enough add some tomato paste or if its too thick add more broth. (If you don’t have a hand held mixer, you can pour half of your soup into the blender)

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-Add the mixture you set aside back into the soup bowl and let simmer until you are ready to eat.
-Serve with a small scoop of reduced fat sour cream, a slice of avocado, a sprinkle of Mexican cheese and topped with fresh chopped cilantro. You can use any or all of these toppings. I happen to think the avocado added a creamy and decadent flavor to the soup. Enjoy!

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Healthified Chicken Enchiladas

My father is on a new diet so last night’s dinner was all about taking a dish I love (see recipe here: chicken enchiladas verde) and making it calorie friendly.  My brother also happened to be home and he is on the opposite end of the diet spectrum. With this dinner we managed to make everyone happy. My father, who is on an 1800 calorie a day diet, consumed 424 calories and the rest of us consumed 614, the main difference being the cheese but he also only had one tortilla (with no cheese) and used lettuce for the rest whereas I had two tortillas. The lettuce wraps are a great way to enjoy a wrap with less calories and an added crunch. We did, however, find a whole wheat wrap with only 45 calories which is a great find! Overall this was a healthy meal with lots of fresh veggies that was delicious and offers you a lot of options when cooking for a diverse group of people.

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Above is a healthy option with the same tasty chicken used in the baked enchiladas below.

Keep in mind that cheese is about 100 calories per ounce, so you better make sure you want that cheese! It made me think twice about snacking on the delicious, sweet manchego cheese while cooking this meal.

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For the Salsa:

  • Can of whole peeled tomatoes, diced
  • Cucumbers, diced
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • Orange bell pepper, chopped
  • One jalapeño, chopped
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Juice and zest from one lime
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper
Combine and let the flavors meld for 20-30 minutes

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For the Chicken:

  • 3 lbs boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 cans Trader Joes green chiles
  • 1 jar Trader Joe’s salsa verde
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 white onion
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • One jalapeño
  • 3 tbsp reduced fat sour cream

Place chicken breasts in a pot of water with salt, pepper, and other seasonings if you have them on hand. I threw in some salt and oregano.  Bring to a light boil and let cook.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Saute the garlic,onion and jalapeno in one cap full of extra virgin olive oil until translucent. Add in 1 3/4 cans of green chiles, the jar of salsa verde, the lime and lime zest. Season with salt & pepper.  Add a dash of cumin.  You want this to cook down on medium to low heat until the onions are sweet and all the flavors meld together.

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Shred the chicken into small pieces with two forks or your fingers. Add the chicken and sour cream, salt & pepper to the pan.

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Roll each tortilla with 1/2 manchego and 1/2 asiago cheese and the chicken mixture.  Spray the bottom of your casserole dish with olive oil, place the enchiladas in the dish and then spray the tops of the tortillas with olive oil.  This is a much better alternative to frying the tortillas and they will still crisp up in the oven at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

When they are almost done, add the remaining chiles and cheese to the top of the enchiladas. When the cheese bubbles, take them out.

For the side of black beans:

  • Fresh lime juice
  • Fresh chopped cilantro

Chicken Enchiladas Verde

Saturday night was girls night in after a beautiful snowy day, so Alex and I decided to do some cooking.  We researched a few different chicken enchiladas recipes, compared them with what we had in my fridge and decided to make a healthier version, but trust me we didn’t lose out on flavor.  We paired the enchiladas with a side of black beans with onion, fresh cilantro, garlic and lime juice and the product was a tasty sweet and spicy dish!  And we had fun while doing it 🙂

Ingredients: 

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tomatillo peppers, papery husks removed, rinsed      

   

  • 1 jalapeno (or more if you like heat)
  • 1 jar salsa verde (I purchased this at Trader Joes which was all natural and included basic fresh ingredients I highly recommend it)
  • 1 white onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 Lime and zest
  • Tortillas (I used white flour)
  • 1 can green chiles (I used  a can of Trader Joe’s fire roasted green chiles)
  • Asiago Cheese, Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 Tbsp ricotta cheese (I would have preferred to use sour cream, puree avocado or mexican crema but we have to go with what we got– this actually worked really well!)
  • Optional: dried cumin and oregano
    
Instructions:
  1. Place chicken breasts in a pot of water with salt, pepper, and other seasonings if you have them on hand. I threw in some cumin powder and oregano.  Bring to a light boil and let cook.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Chop the onions, tomatillos, garlic and jalapeno.
  4. Saute 3/4 of the onion in olive oil until translucent. Add in the tomatillos, 3/4 of the can of green chiles, jalapenos, garlic, 1/3 of the jar of salsa verde, 1/2 of the lime and lime zest. Season with salt & pepper.  Add a dash of cumin.  You want this to cook down on medium to low heat until the onions are sweet and all the flavors meld together.
  5. Put strained black beans in small pot with about 1/4 of the onion, fresh chopped cilantro, 1/2 lime juice and lime zest.  Add salt & pepper and let cook so the flavors meld.
  6. By now the chicken should be cooked through.  Use two forks (or your hands) to shred it into small shredded pieces.  Put the chicken in a bowl with the ricotta cheese, and the rest of the jar of salsa verde. Add salt & pepper and mix well.
  7. Assemble the tortilla with chicken mixture, pepper mixture and top with fresh grated asiago cheese.
       8.  Roll the tortilla up and place seem side down in a casserole dish.  Repeat  until you use up all your fillings.  Spray the enchiladas       using your olive oil misto.  Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they start to brown.
       9. Take them out and top with the remaining green chiles with the mexican cheese blend and some more asiago cheese.  Put it back in the oven until the cheese melts.  Top with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
    Plate with your black beans and enjoy!!
PS.  I heated the leftover enchiladas back up in the toaster oven for lunch the next day and they were still delicious!