Monday, October 31, 2011

Meatless Monday- A Healthy Choice

The “Meatless Monday” campaign has received a lot of recognition lately and it’s a great way to make changes slowly to your diet: start by planning a meatless meal once a week.

The 2011 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that everyone increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables in their diets and move toward a plant-based diet. Although some people have always avoided animal products, the many benefits of a vegetarian diet have become more apparent in recent years as studies have shown that diets high in total fat and saturated fat increase the risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure and diabetes. Many Americans are beginning to follow a “flexitarian diet” based on plant foods, but also including meat, dairy, poultry, eggs and fish. 

Here's an easy recipe that is one of my favorites for "Meatless Mondays".

Vegetarian Black Bean Soup 

Rinsing the beans thoroughly removes a significant amount of sodium. Using low sodium chicken broth instead of the vegetable broth also reduces sodium. For a second meal, I like to serve the soup over rice instead of adding the sherry but I still garnish with sour cream and cilantro. This soup also freezes well but the spiciness intensifies. Chile peppers en adobo keep well in the refrigerator and can be added to meats and stews for a smoky heat.

Makes 4 servings

2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped carrot

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 (15 3/4 ounces) cans vegetable broth

2 (15 ounces) cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14 ounces) can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 chipotle pepper en adobo, chopped

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup dry sherry, if desired

1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

 Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds stirring constantly.

Stir in the broth, beans, tomatoes, chili powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon, chile and bay leaf. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

Remove about 2 cups of the soup. Using an immersion blender or blender puree the remaining soup. Add the reserved soup to the puree. Stir in a little water if the soup is too thick.

Stir 1 tablespoon sherry into each serving. Garnish each with sour cream and cilantro.

 Tip: Remove the seeds from the chipotle chile to reduce the heat if desired.  Or add another pepper if you like it smokin’ hot.  

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