vegetarian

Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

sweetpo scenee.jpg

With the low-carb craze these days, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is about potatoes. Many people see potatoes as one of the worst “carbs that turn to sugar” offenders and so have pushed all types of potatoes aside and off their plates. Quite honestly this just makes me sad! Because usually, when people toss white potatoes out the window, they also toss sweet potatoes too, which I see as a huge nutritional mistake.

Sweet potatoes are one of our favorite starchy root vegetables and are eaten in our house at least once per week. As a dietitian, I love sweet potatoes because they are…

  • High in fiber and resistant starch- this means they cause less dramatic blood sugar spikes, slow digestion and help us feel fuller, and help feed beneficial gut microbes

  • Rich in vitamins A and C- which helps boost our immune system and reduces inflammation, which we know plays a role in heart disease, diabetes, and cancer

  • Loaded with potassium- to help lower blood pressure (because it’s not all about lowering your salt intake!)

sweet potato.jpg

Sweet potatoes are also very versatile ingredients in the kitchen! If you’re looking to switch your carbohydrate intake from one of white, processed grains, to more whole grain and high fiber choices, then sweet potatoes have got your back in so many ways. They are great prepared by…

  • Roasting as cubes or fry shapes

  • Steaming then mashing

  • Sauteing and then simmering in a soup or stew

  • Baking them whole in the classic way

While all of these cooking methods are great, you maaaay notice that they all require some time over the stove or with the oven on. If you’re also going through a heatwave, you may be saying, “Thank you, next.” Which is why I’ve lately been cooking mine in the microwave! Don’t worry, cooking a tater for 8 minutes in the microwave will NOT kill the nutrients, and in fact may actually retain more of the vitamins and minerals this way than if you boiled it in a large pot of water for 15 minutes. Microwaving also saves me time and allows a perfectly tasty and nutritious meal to come together all that more quickly. Hmm, something to think about…

This brings me to this super duper easy stuffed sweet potato recipe that I’ve been enjoying for a meal prepped lunch. Take 1 microwaved sweet potato, stuff it with some sauteed goodies, drizzle on a sauce, and you’ve got lunch packed in about 10 minutes.

The stuffing options are literally endless and you can really let your culinary creativity shine with sweet potatoes as your blank canvas! I hope you all enjoy this simple and totally nutritious lunch.

IMG_0263.JPG

Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato- makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil

  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped

  • 2 bell peppers (any color), sliced into thin strips

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

  • 1 [14.5 oz] can black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt or sour cream

  • 1/2 cup cilantro

  • juice of 1 lime

  • avocado oil, as needed

  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Using a fork, poke holes in the sweet potatoes. Place them on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 10 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat the avocado oil until shimmering. Then add the poblano and bell peppers and cook, stirring occassionaly, until they begin to soften and brown, about 8 minutes. Add in the red onion and black beans, stir and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from heat.

  3. Carefully remove the potatoes from the microwave and once cool enough to handle, use a knife to cut each open, careful not to cut them completely in half. Spoon the pepper and bean mixture evenly into the two potatoes.

  4. To make the cream, combine the yogurt, cilantro, lime, and a tablespoon of avocado oil in a blender or food processor. Process on high, adding in more oil or a splash of water as needed to thin to your desired crema consistency. Taste and adjust salt and lime (or even heat with some jalapeno) to your liking. Drizzle this over your stuffed potato.

  5. Serve immediately, or once cooled package into food storage containers for meal prepped lunches.

Tuscan Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

It’s March and somehow we’re still getting snow! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the snow, but it feels a bit more appropriate to have a snowfall in January and February with sub-zero temperatures, rather than a snow flurry followed by a fifty-degree sunny day- oh well! At least the weather is giving me one more excuse to keep riding the soup train and make up some simple, nourishing lunches.

Of all the countries we have traveled to, Italy is hands down our favorite. We love the people, the history, the wine, and, of course, the food! In Tuscany, there is a soup called ribollita that uses copious amount of Tuscan kale and gets it’s thickness from creamy white beans and tomato puree. It is savory, yet sweet all in one bite and has the perfect heft for a filling lunch soup.

IMG_0235.JPG

This Italian classic inspired my lunch prep for this week, but with a few minor adjustments. In an effort to mix up my leafy green intake, rather than use kale I threw in some rainbow Swiss chard. Chard is quite high in vitamins C, K, and A, meaning it is perfect for fighting off winter colds and helping combat oxidative stress and inflammation. It packs a punch in the fiber department, so is great for balancing blood sugars and dropping your LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol.

swiss chard- jso-sonn-580713-unsplash.jpg

My version also uses farro instead of toasted bread for the carbohydrate component. If you haven’t yet cooked with this ancient grain I stongly encourage you to pick up a bag! Farro is exceptionaly high in fiber and protein, both of which help with insulin sensitivity (meaning your cells are very open to taking in glucose from the blood and using it for energy) and provides immense satisfaction and keeps hunger at bay.

IMG_0234.JPG

This recipe serves 3 portions, so you and your sweetie could each have a bowl for dinner one night, and the remaining can get packed up for lunch. Or if you’re lucky, like me, you get to enjoy it all for yourself for 3 days of lunches.

Enjoy!

Tuscan Bean and Swiss Chard Soup- serves 3

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small onion, diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped into small dice, leaves torn into bite-size pieces

  • 1 tsp of each- dried thyme, rosemary, oregano

  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can of diced tomatoes

  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

  • 1/2 cup cooked farro

  • 1 (15 oz.) can low sodium cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • For garnish- shaved parmesan, chopped flat leaf parsley, balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, swiss chard stems, and a pinch of salt. Saute for about 3 minutes. Add in the spices and saute for another minute.

  2. Pour in the can of tomatoes and their juices and the vegetable broth. Increase the heat to high and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and let cook for about 7-8 minutes.

  3. Reduce the heat and add in the cooked farro and beans. Cook for another 3 minutes to heat these items through. Stir in the chard leaves gently. Taste and add salt, pepper, and red pepper flake as desired.

  4. Serve with shaved parmesan, chopped parsley, and even a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.