FOOD! Broke Bean Stew

It’s difficult to say broke bean, isn’t it?  Don’t you really want to say Brokeback?  Like this is a clandestine comfort food?  It’s not, of course.  There’s no shame in the Broke Bean Stew!  Well, barring any adverse reactions to the level of highly-soluble fiber provided by the magical fruit.  The recipe is from The Biggest Loser, which I have never watched, not once.  But the stew is really good!  Basic recipe, they’re not reinventing the wheel here, but a hearty, easy staple for a week’s lunches.  Also great fiber, low fat, freezes well, yadda yadda.

Per usual, I couldn’t be bothered to follow the recipe exactly.  Actually, the store I visited didn’t have kale or swiss chard and I wasn’t feeling the spinach.  The only alternative was collard greens, which works just as well, though I still would have preferred kale.  For beans, I chose 2 cans of navy/white beans and 1 can of black beans to blend for the broth.  I also made it a little easier by browning onions, blending the specified ingredients, then tossing it all into a slow-cooker overnight.  I can’t imagine it makes much difference.

A few notes to ensure gluten-freedom: packaged foods can be tricky, so check labels for canned beans.  Also, soups, broths, and bouillons are notorious for containing wheat and/or MSG (which I’ve read is unrelated to gluten sensitivity, but many people are highly sensitive to it, so why risk it?), so ensure these are safe!

Visit the Biggest Loser site for more info and other low-fat/cal/sodium/etc. recipes. (There are actually several that sound really tasty, including this chocolate-raspberry deliciousness.)

Broke Bean Stew

(makes 10 1-cup servings)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 can (28 ounces) diced fire-roasted tomatoes
3 cans (15.5 ounces each) chickpeas (or kidney beans, black beans, white beans), rinsed and drained (or 4-1/2 cups cooked beans)
4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped kale or Swiss chard

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in 4-quart saucepan. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Do not brown garlic.

Add spices and tomatoes and simmer about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups (2 cans) of beans and 2-1/2 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.

Place remaining beans and broth in bowl of food processor or in blender. Add cilantro and puree until smooth. Add mixture to stew. Add spinach and heat just until wilted. Stir well and serve hot.

Nutritional information (per serving)
Calories: 160
Protein: 8 grams
Carbohydrates: 26 grams
Fiber: 7 grams
Fat: 3 grams
Saturated fat: 0 grams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Sodium: 330 milligrams

Click here to download the recipe.

Adapted from “The Biggest Loser: 6 Weeks to a Healthier You” by Cheryl Forberg, RD. Copyright © 2010 by Universal Studios Licensing LLLP, The Biggest Loser™ and NBC Studios, Inc., and Reveille LLC. Reprinted by permission of Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098.


FOOD! Tomato-Cashew Soup

This is a recipe I found in an old cookbook, one that was given to me as a gift for my birthday while in college.  I no longer have the book (all non-essentials went by the wayside when I left Santa Barbara to move to New Orleans) but I had (thankfully) posted this recipe to my old blog.  It’s very, very simple, but really satisfying and flavorful.  I like to eat it at room temp, making it perfect for lunch at work, as I often bring in my lunch and forget to transfer it to the refrigerator upon arrival!
1 cup cashews, soak overnight (better raw cashews, but definitely unsalted- buy in bulk at grocery/co-op)
1 teaspoon chopped onion
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 quart (I use two 14.5-oz cans) canned tomatoes
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
dash oregano
dash basil

Combine all ingredients in a pot, heat just until boiling. Blend in blender to desired consistency (I like to leave the cashews in bigger chunks, but soup is good if pureed also).

Let me know what you think!