Meatless Meals – What about beans?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about meatless meals on our Facebook page.  Choosing to go meatless for a meal or for an entire day is one way to save a little money on your grocery bill.  This can be easy at breakfast and lunch, but tends to be a little more difficult at supper time.  Even with a husband and a son who like to have meat with their meals, our family enjoys a meatless supper together once or twice each week.

Unfortunately, my post focused only on eggs and nuts as a good source of protein when choosing to go meatless.  My family and I love beans as a meatless meal.  There are some great bean recipes on the Spend Smart Eat Smart website; each recipe has helpful tips on preparing beans.  One of our favorites is Cowboy Caviar.  My son likes to eat it plain, but my husband and I spoon it into whole wheat tortillas and top it with some shredded cheese.  It also makes a good topping for lettuce salad or a dip for vegetables or tortilla chips.

Besides saving some money on food, meatless meals do have another benefit.  They help add variety into a weekly menu.  Eating a variety of foods from all the food groups (fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein, and grains) helps us make sure that we are getting all the nutrients we need primarily from food.

We also use soy to add protein to meals when we choose to go meatless, but that is a topic for another post…

Cowboy Caviar

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, cooked
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Instructions:

  1. Stir together kidney beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chilies, and onions in a large bowl.
  2. Add lime juice, oil, salt, and pepper; toss gently to combine.

Justine Hoover, MS, RD, LD

It’s Cold Outside, Time for Soup

Soup is a great comfort food for winter meals, and so good for you too. Our featured recipe for January is  Mexican Chicken Soup. Making this soup takes less time than getting in the car and driving through your favorite takeout place. You don’t have to cook the chicken ahead of time. Just place raw boneless chicken in the pot with the other ingredients. After cooking for about 20 minutes, take the chicken out and shred it into bite-size pieces. Serve it with tortilla chips or bread, apple/orange slices and you have a meal with something from each food group plus plenty of fiber. For extra instruction, check out the preparation video under the recipe instructions.

This recipe would be super economical if you made your own chicken broth and cooked dry beans instead of buying them canned; click on the hot links above to see the directions.  Another advantage of doing it yourself is that you can control the amount of sodium.
If this soup scores points with your family, check out the other soup recipes in the Cook section of the SpendSmart.EatSmart web page.  All our recipes are healthy, low-cost and easy.

Mexican Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes (Mexican-style)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen corn or 1 15-ounce can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can sodium-reduced chicken broth or 2 cups Homemade Chicken Broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast

Instructions

  1. Add tomatoes, beans, corn, broth, garlic, chili powder, cumin (if desired), and pepper in large saucepan.
  2. Remove and discard any visible fat from chicken. Cut chicken into large chunks and add to the saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender.
  3. Remove the chicken and place on a plate; use forks to shred the chicken. Return the shredded chicken to soup.
  4. Serve with choice of garnishes, such as baked tortilla chips.

-pointers from Peggy

It’s fall and soup’s on

This month’s featured recipe, 3-Can Chili,  is one of my “Go-To” recipes. You know what I mean—the ones that you know by heart, make often, and everyone likes. Plus, you can have this one on the table in about 20 minutes. To lower the cost, I buy canned tomatoes, canned beans, and frozen corn when they are on sale. I use my price book so I know a good price and try never to buy full price.

The variations for 3-Bean Chili are endless. You can vary the types of canned beans you use, or cook dry beans, rehydrating them for an inexpensive meal. You can use fresh tomatoes which would lower the sodium; add fresh chili peppers or canned Mexican-style tomatoes to increase the heat; use canned or frozen corn; add cooked and drained ground turkey or beef; etc.

I like to make a batch and freeze individual portions to take for lunch at work. Sometimes after it is heated, I add a tablespoon or two of shredded cheese, or plain yogurt. The soup, apple, and milk make a great lunch!

-pointers from Peggy

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