Tag Archives: beans

Brat and cabbage soup

brat and cabbage soup

I’ve been waiting for a day cool enough for soup; today was the day! I’d been wanting to try out this recipe I spied on Taste of Home recently, when I was trying to figure out how to use up some leftover sausages — including some grilled bratwurst.

This soup exceeded my expectations! I love that it takes one of my husband’s favorite foods (brats/sausage), and makes it into a fairly healthy meal. Kick it up to the next level by serving with a hearty bread made into garlic toast. (Or Paleo English muffins made into garlic toast.)

Bonus: it’s really easy! We’ll definitely be having this again.

I halved the original recipe, since I was cooking for two. (The recipe below is the half portion.) Double these quantities to serve a larger group, or to have some to put in the freezer. Several reviewers said that it tasted just as good if not better, reheated the second day, so this would make a great make-ahead meal, too.

Leave out the beans to make it Paleo and Whole30 compliant. You could add chopped avocado in their place: similar texture, plus healthy fats!

Brat and Cabbage Soup Recipe

Serves 4

2 cups chicken broth or stock (or more, for a long simmer)
2 – 3 medium carrots
1 stalk celery
1 medium onion
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
2 – 3 brats, cooked according to package directions
1.5 cups shredded cabbage
1 can (14 oz.) great northern beans, rinsed and drained (optional*)

Put the broth on to boil in a large saucepan. Chop the carrots, celery and onion into bite-size chunks, and add them to the saucepan, along with the seasonings. Once the mixture boils, turn it down to medium low and simmer till the carrots are tender.

Slice the brats in half lengthwise, then into half- to one-inch slices; add them to the pot and heat through. At this point, you can turn the heat to low and let it all simmer till 20 minutes before serving time. If the broth gets too low, add a little more chicken stock. Or put some or all in the freezer for a future meal.

About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, add the shredded cabbage and beans. Stir gently and continue to simmer. Serve with fresh-from-the-oven garlic toast.

*To make this a lower carb dish — with balanced carbs and proteins — just leave out the beans. Here’s the nutrition info with beans:

Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
Calories 276
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13 g 20 %
Saturated Fat 5 g 25 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 38 mg 13 %
Total Carbohydrate 26 g 9 %
Dietary Fiber 8 g 31 %
Sugars 5 g
Protein 16 g 32 %
And here it is without:
Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
Calories 206
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13 g 20 %
Saturated Fat 5 g 25 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 38 mg 13 %
Total Carbohydrate 11 g 4 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g 10 %
Sugars 5 g
Protein 11 g 21 %

Seven-layer dip as salad

7-layer-dip-salad-oh-500

I love seven-layer dip — sometimes called taco dip — and the dip itself is a pretty low carb treat. Plus, it’s got some decidedly healthy ingredients: avocado (15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams saturated fat, plus potassium and vitamins C and K); tomatoes (lycopene, vitamins A and C); and the beans are a good source of iron and fiber — though they’re often made with trans fats. But the chips for dipping are not healthy in any way!

So I thought this would be another great dish to make into a salad on a romaine spear. (Which I’ve done before. More than once.)

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a guideline. The base is a heart-of-romaine leaf, and you’ll probably want two to four for each person. This makes a great “assemble yourself” meal, letting everyone customize their own.

Just lay the leaf on the serving plate and smear it with your choice of one or more items from this list:
– refried beans (or just used canned beans for a later layer)
– ready-made guacamole
– sour cream or Greek yogurt, plain or mixed with taco seasoning

Then top that with your choices of:
– canned beans, rinsed and drained; pinto and/or black
– shredded cheese: monterrey jack, cheddar, queso fresca, or a mix
– chopped tomatoes
– diced bell pepper
– sliced green onion or diced red onion
– sliced black olives
– minced cilantro

As you can see, this can end up being more than seven layers — or less — depending on your taste and/or what you have on hand.

Here’s mine:

Seven-layer dip as a hand-held salad

You might also like:
Make-ahead Tex-Mex salad
Chicken club salad with creamy balsamic vinaigrette
Ginger-peanut salad dressing for Asian salad

Lower carb chili

lower carb chili; Paleo notes, too.

On a cold, grey winter day in Kansas, sitting down to a bowl of chili for dinner just feels right. But now that we’re trying to lower our carb intake, I needed to rework our favorite chili recipe.

My approach to low carb would more accurately be called “balanced carb.” I try (try!) to make sure every meal and every snack has a balance between carbs and proteins. (Did you know that going super-low carb or no carb for too long can mess up your serotonin? Not a good thing, if you have issues with insomnia, depression, etc.)

Most chili recipes have more carbs than protein: some by a small margin, some by a lot. The most popular chili recipe on AllRecipes has almost twice as much carbs as protein — 55g and 31g, respectively. So I set out to see where I could cut out carbs and maybe even sneak in some more protein.

First of all, the beans. Beans are carbs, but most experts consider them healthy carbs. So I kept them in, but cut them back to half a can. A little label-reading taught me that the kind of beans I use can help, too. Look at these labels for red kidney beans — the traditional chili bean — and black beans; check out the ingredient list…

Yep, that’s right: the red beans contain sugar and dextrose (a sneaky way for the manufacturer to avoid listing sugar higher in the list of ingredients), the black beans don’t. Plus, the black beans have about 50% more iron than the red ones. So there’s an easy switch.

Here’s another one: instead of just using tomato sauce and/or diced tomatoes for the liquid, I used a small can of tomato paste (checking to make sure there’s no sugar hiding in there), and used beef stock for the rest of the liquid. The stock brings a bit of protein to the party, plus I like the flavor it adds.

Other healthy-choice change-ups: I added a bit of red bell pepper to bring some fiber and vitamin C, and used turkey sausage instead of hamburger. Mostly for the flavor. And I actually prefer turkey sausage to pork. I just like the leaner flavor. If you don’t, feel free to sub your favorite pork sausage.

I added up all the carbs and protein in my revised dish, using the label info and this handy resource, and guess what! This chili actually has more protein than carbs. 22g of carbs, 25.5 g of protein.

Now if only I could figure out a lower carb cornbread. I haven’t tried it, but here’s a recipe for flourless cornbread. Good if you’re living gluten-free. (Still has corn and cornmeal, though.) (Update: Now there’s Paleo cornbread!)

Until then, there’s chili…

Lower Carb Chili
3-4 servings (can easily be doubled)

spices:
1 t. chili powder
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. dried oregano
3/4 t. ground ancho chili pepper
1/4 t. salt  or 1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

1 T. olive oil
1/2 large onion
1/2 red bell pepper
2-3 cloves garlic
1 lb. turkey Italian sausage
1.5 c. beef stock
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste, no sugar added
1/2  can beans, no sugar added: kidney, black, pinto, or a mix; rinsed and drained
optional: sour cream, Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, green onion for garnish

Mix the spices together and set aside.

Heat oil over medium heat in 4-quart pot. (Larger, if you’re doubling the recipe.) Chop the onion into about 1/2″ pieces and add it to the pot. Chop the bell pepper into about 1/4″ pieces; I cut it into long pieces one way then turn the cutting board 90 degrees and chop them the other way. Add the peppers to the pot, then mince garlic and add it.

Once the onions are translucent and the peppers are fairly tender, push them aside and put the sausage in the center.

I like to let the first side sit there till it’s nicely browned, then turn the whole thing over. Then as the second side cooks, stir and chop it to break it up. Cook, stirring occasionally, till no more pink shows. Once the sausage is browned, drain most of the fat from the pan.

Return the pan to the heat and add all of the spices. Stir until sausage is well coated with spices; simmer one minute more. Add in the broth and tomato paste and stir till well combined. Turn heat to med-high. Once it comes to a boil, add the beans and turn it down to a simmer.

Cover partially and simmer for 20 minutes to 2 hours. If it gets too thick, add broth. Just before serving, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with sour cream (or Greek yogurt), shredded cheese, and green onions, if desired.

Quick easy lunch: Tex-Mex plate

no-more-macncheese2

I’ve worked from home since my kids were in preschool, and they’re both in college now. If you think about all the days they were at school and the days since they left, that’s a lot of lunches for one at home! And if you’re not planning for that, the natural tendency is to gravitate to what’s easy and comforting. Which I did. I ate a lot of mac and cheese! Corn chips with cheese dip also passed for lunch some days.

But once I started trying to cut white flour, sugar, and other super-processed foods out of my diet, I needed a new plan.

Whether you work at home or are just spending a lazy (or busy) weekend at home, being able to throw together a meal out of what you have on hand is a necessary skill if you’re going to eat healthier. Since my old mac and cheese days, I’ve gotten pretty good at improvised lunches: opening the fridge and saying, “What do I have to work with here?”

Today was a good example. Looking in the fridge, the first leftover I spotted was a small container of black beans, left over from improvising on salsa verde chicken a couple nights ago. So I started with that.

Okay, what goes with black beans? Hey, there are a few leftover bell pepper chunks from the roasted vegetables we made Friday. And there’s some leftover rice. (Converted rice, cooked in chicken broth. Still a white food, but a little lower glycemic than Minute Rice cooked in water.) It would be good to have a little protein with that… what’s in the meat drawer? Canadian bacon; that’ll work. So, black beans and rice, sounds sort of Tex-Mex… let’s grab some salsa. And some sour cream, to make it creamy. Hmm, yogurt would be a little healthier; I’ll use that instead.

So after a short pre-heat of my handy 8″ non-stick skillet, I diced up a couple slices of Canadian bacon and threw that in the pan. While it was heating through, I sliced up the leftover peppers then added them to the pan.

Next I added two heaping spoonfuls of black beans and the same amount of rice. Part of making lunch quick and easy is not messing with measuring cups! Learn to just kind of wing it. Sure you might make a few mistakes along the way, but you might also have some accidental triumphs!

The “spoonful” here is not a teaspoon and not a huge serving spoon; it’s the spoon size in between those.
Next was the salsa. I used two or three spoonfuls, but that’s something you could modify according to your taste. Actually, all of this you could modify according to your taste! That’s the beauty of it.

A quick stir to get everything mingling nicely, and about a minute on the heat to get everything heated through. Lastly, I sprinkled some shredded cheese on top. I like a cheddar-jack mix, but again, whatever cheese you like is okey-doke. Just leave it alone till the cheese is melted. If you put a lid on the pan, it will melt a little quicker, but even if you don’t it’ll just be a minute or two.

Once the cheese was nice and melty, I just slid it all out of the frying pan onto my plate, like you would an omelette. Topped it with some sour cream — negating my earlier, healthier choice, but oh well — and, for the sake of a prettier photo, a few sprinkles of parsley. Chives or green onions would be more in keeping with the Tex-Mexness of this dish, but I don’t have those on hand. I do keep chopped parsley in my freezer, though. (Try it; it’s so handy!)

Yummy, satisfying, quick and easy, and pretty healthy to boot!

Here’s the recipe — such as it is — all in one place:

Easy Tex-Mex Plate

– 2 to 4 slices Canadian bacon, diced (or whatever leftover cooked meat you have on hand; chicken and pork would be great, too.)
– some leftover cooked bell pepper, diced
– 2 rounded spoonfuls of black beans
– 2 rounded spoonfuls of cooked rice
– 2 to 3 rounded spoonfuls of salsa
– 1 spoonful of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
– a handful or so of shredded cheese
– optional: sour cream, Greek yogurt, chives and/or green onions for garnish

Preheat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the ingredients, up to and including the yogurt, in the order listed; stir gently. Once all is heated through, top with shredded cheese and keep on heat till cheese is melted. Slide onto a place and garnish if desired. Enjoy!

Serves 1.

Do you have an easy, improvised lunch recipe? Do tell!