Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Welcome to Happy Healthy 2017

The Healthy Writer here is gleefully welcoming all of you who are ready to start fresh after indulging over the holidays.

A little indulgence now and then is good for our spirits. It's especially good when it inspires us to want to eat healthy in the aftermath.

I saw this Santa and thought he looks like he's had a pretty rough season. I guess he could use some healthy eating too.

Okay, on to healthy food.

I don't know about you, but as I get older, I find I just can't tolerate as much of the sweetness. I used to be a bottomless receptacle for all things holiday - cookies, candy, cake, repeat.

But this year, I only spent one evening baking, I indulged in one Junior's cheesecake given to us by a friend, and I ate a chocolate bar that had been hiding in my freezer since before Thanksgiving.

Not trying to be all virtuous here - just getting old, I fear.

On Monday, Jan said:

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's all do a number on our eating habits, and every year at the beginning of January we decide that THIS is the year that we'll like our scale again. THIS is the year we will eat healthy. THIS is the year that we will learn to like healthy eating!

Let me give you an idea to try.

I was craving something colorful and nutritious last week, but I had no clear idea of what it was going to be. Then I remembered the can of black beans I'd been inspired to pick up at Whole Foods. And I had a sweet potato.

From there, I added things as I went.

Let me tell it in pictures.
First there was the sweet potato. I tried something different. I peeled it and then roasted it. So what you see here is about to be chopped up into bite-sized chunks.

I used Eden Organics Black Beans. I like them because they're packed in seaweed and contain no additional salt or preservatives. I added some Cippolini onions and my favorite freeze-dried garlic.

I wanted to add some sort of spices, but I wasn't exactly sure what.  I ended up adding the onion and garlic and then I threw in some cumin. Perfect!
Once everything had simmered a bit, I added in some frozen corn.

Stir and simmer a bit longer.

Drain thoroughly. You don't want soggy taco shells!

I had some delicious avocados, so I scooped them out.

Then it was time to add everything into the heated taco shells.

I broke this one open so you could see all the layered goodness.

A few notes:

I used one sweet potato and one can of beans because I was making it just for my daughter and myself. The rest of the ingredients can be added according to taste. I like a lot of garlic, but I only chopped up one Cippolini onion and it was enough. I didn't measure the cumin, just gave the jar a shake.

When it came time to assemble, I smashed the avocado and lined the shell with it and then alternated the chunks of roasted sweet potato and bean/corn mix.

I loved the taco shell because it added a crunchy texture. I've had similar recipes that used soft tortillas instead. They were delicious too.  If you're wondering about the green stuff, I had a bag of salad greens that were about to expire so I dry roasted them too and tossed them in. You could do that or not, not necessary though.

So, what healthy meals are you inspired to try this year?


  1. You are innovative.... What a marvelous combo of flavors that must be!!!!

    I'm married to a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy so on the nights I do cook (which aren't as many as they used to be with work and all...) I try to do two-night suppers. Sauce, soups, pot roast to reheat the next day.... but you're right, as we get older (or even before!) it makes sense to do more fresh food, less processed sugar, etc.

    But after a few years of using high protein to maintain a balance, I have declared bread to be my friend again... not the enemy! :) So I'm using homemade breads, etc. to make folks smile, but only on occasion.

    It's hard when your day job is fairly sedentary to get in the movement time our bodies crave. Cate, you're right, striking a balance is a tough thing... but I'm so glad you help keep me focused on better choices!

    1. I'm a BIG fan of breads, Ruthy.

      Yes, I hear you on the sedentary. I have that problem in the summer. Come fall - spring, I'm on the move all day. Some days I leave school and realize I never sat down once from the time I left the house.

  2. MMMMM. Looks familiar, except for the sweet potato!

    I've never craved sweets, even when I was a kid. But we had leftover chips from our New Year's party and I found myself snagging a few every time I passed the open bag. Good thing they came with guests and aren't something I buy! I could eat them all day and night.

    AS for exercise, it's been snowy here an I've been tormenting my poor middle aged body with sledding run. Since I still have little kids, they sled down and I pull them back up. Hahahaha, talk about a work out. The first day I did that for an hour I almost couldn't get out of bed the next day. But we're three weeks into our snow season and I feel... like I need more food to fuel those sledding trips.

    1. That's fabulous exercise! I'm a bit jealous... ;)

    2. The cubed sweet potato is really a fabulous addition and makes it more filling too.

      I kind of envy you the snow, but not the assorted aches and pains. I think you deserve to eat any ole thing you want!

  3. I'm striving more healthy recipes after the holidays, too. This one looks delicious. Black Bean Burgers are a healthy choice or turkey burgers topped with lettuce, onion, tomato and whatever veggies who want without any bread. Thanks for sharing. I enjoy making a pot of soup for multiple meals in the winter that are filled with veggies, too.

    1. Hi Marilyn. I'm usually into soups in the winter too, but for some reason, I wanted something bright and crunchy that day. This worked!

  4. Cate, this looks like a delicious blend of flavors!

    I make something similar once in a while - a quesadilla with a black bean/garlic/onion filling - but I never thought of adding a sweet potato to the mix.


    As for moving: Oh, my. It's been so cold here that I don't want to take the dogs for a walk. Frozen feet is a real danger! So until it warms up this weekend, I do my "walk around the house" exercise. I do laps around the rooms upstairs, then go downstairs for a couple laps, run up and down the stairs a couple times, a few more laps... The dogs think I'm crazy, but it gets my heart rate up and Thatcher keeps pace with me.

    I'd much rather walk outside, though!

    1. We've been lucky so far, Jan. Other than a few frigid days in December, most of our temps have stayed in 30 - 50 range. Today was actually pretty balmy. I had my jacket open during recess. But a cold front is due in tonight and the winds have picked up.

      I had a similar dish in a restaurant that was in a soft wrap (sort of similar to your quesadilla) and they had chunks of sweet potato in there. It was delicious!

  5. This looks so yummy and very creative! I tend to gravitate to hearty soups and stews this time of year. The crockpot is my friend. So easy to freeze portions and then mix and match for a few weeks. Love being able to whip up a meal fast.

    I have never heard of Cippolini onions -- what's special about them? Would an ordinary cooking onion do just as well?

    Now that I have sort of boots I've been walking every day...except in the freezing rain. For me that means about 20 or 30 minutes mushing my walker through the snow which is a huge workout, pathetic as that sounds. We had miserable freezing rain yesterday and I couldn't get out and it really messed with my pain levels. I tried walking around my wee little house but just didn't do the same for me. Even tried arm bicycling with weights. Had a nasty pain night as a result but today it's sunny and fresh sticky snow has covered all that nasty ice so traction should be better. I'm raring to get out there and walk. :-)

  6. Kav, I love that you're getting a chance to get out and walk. It really does wonderful things for our mental state. Praying the weather cooperates for you.

    Cippolini onions are sweet onions. Apparently it's an Italian word that means little onion. I'm sure any sweet onions would do. I just happened to have these left over from a roast potato dish for New Year's.

  7. Well apparently I'm the designated sweet eater at the cafe. They call to me like Alice in Wonderland. "Eat me. Eat me." This is why I have to toss the remnants at New Years.

    Mary Cate, your mind looks at food very differently from mine. I admire your creativity. And this actually looks good. Though I did raise an eyebrow at sweet potato in a taco shell. The cumin sounds lovely, but where's the salsa? I'm guessing in Texas.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. This is funnu, Mindy. I often look at what other peopleare eating and think I couldn't eat that much. But give me a coffee cake or scone - or breakfast food and I'm all over it. And pizza. Always pizza.

    2. funny, though funnu is a good word.