Breakfast Chilaquiles

Have you ever met a dietitian that would tell you it’s okay to eat chips for breakfast? Well, this dietitian is telling you just that and I’m going to share with you why I believe all foods fit, including chips, to start the day.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

I work with a lot of patients whose doctors rattle off a list of foods they should “never” eat and foods that are “bad” no matter when or how they are eaten. While I do discuss the impact of excessive amounts of added sugars with my patients with diabetes, I also discuss with them the many ways to include other forms of carbohydrates (which ultimately turn into sugar) in a mindful and healthy way that doesn’t lead to a cycle of restriction and then overeating.

Let’s take chips, for example. If a patient were to walk in munching on a bag of Tostito’s flour tortilla chips, rather than scold them for having a food that will spike their blood sugars, frankly, quite high and rather quickly, I use this as an opportunity to first do a little digging as to WHY they chose that snack, and then secondly maybe we do an educational activity investigating the nutrition label.

Understanding someone’s reasoning behind a food choice reveals SO much about how they comfort themselves, deal with stress, what their finances are, or what their knowledge of a food’s physiological impact is. Many of my patients tell me they love chips because they are salty and crunchy- the same reasons I do! But then they follow that statement with, “I don’t know why I eat chips, I’m not even hungry and I know it’s not good for my blood sugar.” That’s where some mindful nutrition comes into play. Maybe if we compare a nutrition facts label of these tortilla chips, with say an option that is higher in fiber and protein, they might see that there are other ways to satisfy their salty craving while keeping their health in mind! And while finding a healthier food alternative is great, I also don’t ignore the need to possibly find other ways to cope with boredom, but that’s for another time…

This isn’t only a practice I recommend for my patients living with diabetes- it’s a balance I believe we can all find! Yes, there’s going to be some times where the classic chip is the only thing you want, but I can bet that discovering a healthy alternative that’s just as tasty would be a welcome addition to your way of eating.

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I’m walking the talk and putting this healthful balance into action with these breakfast chilaquiles made with Beanfields Snacks chips. They graciously sent me a care package of some products to try and I am totally digging these plant-based, vegan snacks. The first two ingredients are the beans, which is why the fiber and protein content is high and something I can get on board with, including at breakfast! A chip with more fiber and protein is still going to cause a rise in my blood sugar (thanks for the energy!) but it will be a slower rise and more sustained energy release than its processed flour counterpart.

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This dish takes minimal ingredients and time, so it could be made for a weekday morning, but I dug into this skillet on a slow morning at home. I made this a solo breakfast, but you can easily double the recipe and make it for you and your boo.

I hope you find time to make this healthy, tasty skillet!

Breakfast Chilaquiles- serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced

  • Thinly sliced red onion, a small or medium handful depending on your love of onion

  • 3/4 can (or about 1.25 cups) of tomato sauce (I use Hunt’s Tomato Sauce)

  • 2 handfuls of Beanfield’s Jalapeno Nacho Bean Chips

  • 2 organic, pasture-raised eggs

  • 1 tbsp avocado oil

  • Toppings: cubed avocado, greek yogurt (or cotija cheese)

Directions

  1. To a heated cast iron skillet, add sliced zucchini and a 1/4 cup of water. Cook zucchini until starting to soften and water evaporates. Then add red onions and avocado oil. Stir and sauce until starting to brown.

  2. Pour in tomato sauce and add chips. Using tongs, stir everything together to coat chips in sauce. Make 2 wells in the sauce and crack an egg into each space. Slide skillet under the broiler and cook until egg whites are set and yolks are cooked to your liking.

  3. Remove from under broiler and top with a drizzle of plain greek yogurt (or shower of cotija cheese) and avocado.

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Note: I did not receive any financial compensation for this post. I just really love the Beanfields brand and want to spread the word!

Bison Butternut Chili

It’s officially freezing here in NYC and that means all the chili recipes! I love a good silky soup, but much prefer something with more chunks going on, so I tend to cook up a chili once or twice a month.

This week I’m sharing a chili concoction with an ingredient that may be new to a lot of you- bison! My mom used to make bison burgers growing up, albeit not all that often, but I have never cooked it myself, nor did I know much about what else to do with this type of meat. Danny brought this home last week thinking I was up for a challenge!

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For a little nutritional wisdom before getting into the recipe, bison meat is very lean and is overall much lower in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol compared to beef, pork, or chicken. This is mostly due to the fact that bison raised for meat consumption are fed a grass-based, vegetarian diet and there is very little if any use of antibiotics or hormones. To be honest, I don’t always have the finances to choose grass-fed beef, but when possible it’s really nice to select an animal protein source that’s not only good for the environment, but also better for your health too.

Now bison isn’t the only protein source going into this recipe. I’m tossing in red kidney beans too, which if you asked a sample of people you’d get a dozen different answers on whether or not beans in chili is “allowed” or not. Since I was dealing with a small amount of ground bison leftover from making bison burgers for dinner, I decided some extra plant protein wouldn’t hurt.

This chili is also bumped up with butternut squash and warming spices like ancho chili, corriander, and cumin. I’ve made enough for 3 days of lunches and even decided to mix up how it owuld be served; two days I’m tossing it with Banza pasta a la Cincinnati chili style, and the third day will be straight chili in a bowl with a more Southwestern flair by adding diced red onion and jalapeño, maybe with some brown rice to go with it.

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Have you ever tried bison before? Let me know in the comments!

Bison Butternut Chili- serves 3

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound ground bison- we bought Nature’s Rancher

  • 1 can low sodium red kidney beans, drained and rinsed well

  • 3 cups cubed butternut squash

  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 cup tomato sauce

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder

  • 1/2 tsp corriander

  • 1 tsp sea salt

  • 3 cups cooked Banza spaghetti

  • Olive oil as needed

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside.

  2. In a large dutch oven pot, add a small drizzle of olive oil and ground bison. Use a wooden spoon to break apart meat and cook until crumbled and no pink remains. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  3. To the same pot, add onion and cook 3 minutes until begins to become translucent. Then add garlic and butternut squash. Cook for about 2 minutes, mixing everything together. Add 1 cup of water, then cover and let cook until squash is just able to be pierced with a fork. You don’t want to overcook the squash at this point because it still has plenty of time in the pot.

  4. Add in drained and rinsed beans, ground bison, tomato sauce, another half cup of water, salt, and spices. Bring to a simmer and cover to let cook for about 30-40 minutes. Taste half way through and adjust seasoning to your liking- more chili for spice, more corriander and cumin for warmth.

  5. The chili is finished cooking when the liquid has reduced and the consistency has become thicker. Serve in bowls over cooked pasta- you can even garnish with some shredded cheddar cheese and green onions. Or serve over brown rice and add diced red onion and jalapeño.

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Spinach Pesto Cauliflower Gnocchi

I have a bookshelf of cookbooks, but I hardly use them!

Let me clarify, I use them for inspiration and to read the stories of the chefs and cooks who create such deliciousness, but it’s rare that I follow most of the recipes to a “T”.

Cooking without a recipe can be so freeing and allows you to customize recipes according to your tastes, budget, and the time to you have prepare. I used to get a lot of gripes from my husband about “not following the recipe” if something came out a little “off” but I looked at this as part of the process of trial and error in the kitchen and finding flavors and ingredients we love. Plus, who’s to say that every detailed, written recipe would be a slam-dunk anyway?

So, I know it’s ironic that I’m talking about cooking without a recipe, but am here posting you a “recipe” for one of my latest creations. Many of you asked questions about the main ingredient, so I figured a post to describe how to cook the infamous cauliflower gnocchi could be helpful. So, whether you follow all the steps to this recipe, or only the gnocchi cooking method, I hope you enjoy!

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Spinach Pesto Cauliflower Gnocchi- serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup potato gnocchi

  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s frozen cauliflower gnocchi

  • 1 large yellow summer squash, sliced into thin half moons

  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes

  • Half pound ground sweet chicken sausage

  • 3 tbsp spinach pesto from Jar of Lemons

  • Olive oil and salt as needed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to broil. In a small bowl, mix cherry tomatoes with 1 tsp olive oil, toss, and lay on half sheet baking tray. Slide tray into oven and broil for 5 minutes until tomatoes begin to burst. Remove and let cool.

  2. Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. Dump in potato gnocchi and cook until gnocchi rise to the top and appear fluffy. Strain gently and set aside.

  3. In a large saute pan, heat a small amount of olive oil and add chicken sausage. Break apart with a wooden spoon and cook until no pink remains. Remove meat with a slotted spoon and reserve in a bowl on the side.

  4. To the same heated saute pan, add sliced yellow squash and a touch of water. Cook squash until tender and to your liking. Turn off heat.

  5. Place cauliflower gnocchi in a glass bowl. Microwave for 3 minutes. Once finished, transfer cauliflower gnocchi to saute pan with reserved squash. Turn on heat and gently move items around to continue to heat cauliflower gnocchi through. It’s ideal if the gnocchi starts to brown a little too.

  6. Then add the cooled potato gnocchi, cooked sausage, and grape tomatoes. Give everything a big stir and mix together. Turn off the heat and add spoonfuls of spinach pesto- you be the judge of how saucy you’d like this dish to be.