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BROST: Add bean dips to your football fare

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Bonnie Brost is a registered dietitian in the Wellness Program at the Essentia Health St. Mary’s-Heart & Vascular Center in Duluth. Contact her at bonnie.brost@essentiahealth.org.2 / 2

DULUTH — It is fall and football season. Gathering to attend a game or watch one on television is part of life in northern Minnesota.

Food and football usually bring out pizza, potlucks and snacks. It's hard to keep healthy eating on track during fall weekends. But with a little creativity and menu-planning, you can fit heart-healthy options into the fun.

We often think of heart-healthy as eating foods that don't taste good or foods we shouldn't have. Instead, let's focus on foods we should eat more, while still heeding recommendations to limit saturated fat, sodium and sugar.

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least 4 to 5 cups of fruits and/or vegetables each day and four servings of beans each week.

Introducing beans into a family's meal plan can be a challenge. So why not add them to the football snack buffet and help your family and guests give beans a try?

Beans are high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Eating beans regularly may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease and colorectal cancer. Beans also help with weight management.

Compare the Salsa Bean Dip recipe below with the popular "Top the Tater" sour cream dip. The salsa recipe provides more protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals with fewer calories and sodium. One-fourth cup of "Top the Tater" has no fiber but has 120 calories, 200 milligrams of sodium and 7 grams of saturated fat, which is half of what most of us should have all day.

Southwest Black Bean Salsa is easy to make and adds great color to your buffet. Chicken Enchilada Dip, adapted from Eating Well, is full of fresh vegetables and beans that will fill up football fans with healthy ingredients. I used reduced-fat cream cheese and cheddar cheese to keep level of saturated fat and sodium down.

Salsa Bean Dip

1 tablespoon chopped onion

15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

¼ cup Newman's Mild Salsa

⅛ teaspoon cumin

⅛ teaspoon chili powder

⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes or tabasco sauce (optional)

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream

Place all ingredients, except cilantro, in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Add chopped cilantro. Serve with whole-grain tortilla chips or fresh vegetables.

Nutrition facts: Servings, 4; serving size, ¼ cup; calories, 110; total fat, 1 gram; saturated fat, 0.5 grams; carbohydrate, 20 grams; protein, 7 grams; sodium, 150 milligrams; potassium, 370 milligrams; fiber, 7 grams.

Southwest Black Bean Dip

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1½ cups frozen corn

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

Jalapeno pepper, chopped (if desired)

Tortilla chips or dipping vegetables

Mix the lime juice, oil and cumin in a small bowl. Combine the corn, cilantro, black beans, red bell pepper and jalapeno pepper; toss. Drizzle dressing over bean mixture and mix. Serve with whole-grain tortilla chips.

Nutrition facts: Servings, 8; serving size, ½ cup; calories, 80; total fat, 1.5 grams; saturated fat, 0 grams; sodium, 60 milligrams; potassium, 335 milligrams; carbohydrates, 13 grams; fiber, 4 grams; protein 3 grams

Chicken Enchilada Dip

3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (about 3 large tomatoes)

½ cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, cut in half

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

⅛ teaspoon salt

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese

2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen corn

½ cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin and salt in a food processor. Process until smooth. Pour sauce into 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Place chicken breasts in sauce. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7 hours. Remove chicken and shred using two forks. Return chicken to slow cooker. Add cream cheese, beans, corn and cheddar cheese. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 10-15 minutes. Garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro. Serve with whole-grain tortilla chips or wraps.

Nutrition facts: Servings, 12; serving size, ⅓ cup; calories, 150; total fat, 4 grams; saturated fat, 2 grams; sodium, 180 milligrams; carbohydrates, 22 grams; fiber, 7 grams; protein, 15 grams.

Bonnie Brost is a registered dietitian in the Wellness Program at the Essentia Health St. Mary’s-Heart & Vascular Center in Duluth. Contact her at bonnie.brost@essentiahealth.org.

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