Mexican Seasoned Black Beans

These seasoned black beans are the perfect addition to any Mexican-inspired dish. They taste great in burritos, tacos, and as a side dish for a Mexican breakfast platter with scrambled eggs. Only a few ingredients are required for this quick and easy recipe, and the spice mix used for the beans is also perfect for seasoning taco meat.

seasoned black beans

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a wonderful time celebrating. I just spent a quiet night relaxing with my family and watching the last few episodes of one of my favourite TV shows, Bones. School started back up again today, so I drove back yesterday and immediately started cooking. Whenever I go home I always anticipate that I’ll do lots of cooking since the kitchen is bigger and I have more free time, but usually I end up keeping busy with other activities. There’s something about being back in my little kitchen at school that makes me want to cook!

I made two recipes yesterday. One was a Coconut Chickpea Curry from Jessica in the Kitchen. A friend came over last night so I made this recipe for the two of us, since I’d made it once before and it was absolutely fantastic. It’s also easy to cook and comes together quickly. I served it with some rice, so now I have a few extra servings of rice and curry that I’ll be able to take for lunches at school for the next couple days.

The second recipe is this recipe for Mexican Seasoned Black Beans!

I would estimate that 50% of the meals I make involve Mexican flavours. I’m a huge fan of taco bowls, guacamole, and adding salsa to everything. As a result, a lot of these recipes will show up on the blog. I love this recipe for black beans because it is incredibly versatile – it’s the perfect addition to almost every Mexican dish. It would even taste good with just a little rice and salsa (and actually, it tastes delicious on its own by the spoonful – these beans don’t last long in my fridge!).

The recipe comes together in about 15 minutes, and the ingredients are minimal – just canned black beans, garlic, a few spices, and some water.

black beans in a colander

cooking black beans

The first step is briefly frying a minced clove of garlic in cooking oil. Then, you add the black beans (drained and rinsed) and the spice mix, and stir to coat. Last, you pour in half a cup of water, and simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes. And that’s it!

spiced black beans

These beans taste great in a ton of recipes, so you can get creative. But in case you need some ideas for how to use them, the next two recipes I post will include these spiced black beans as an ingredient!

spoonful of black beans

Print Recipe
Mexican Seasoned Black Beans
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
cups black beans
Ingredients
Spice Mix
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
cups black beans
Ingredients
Spice Mix
Instructions
  1. Heat oil to medium heat in a medium-sized pot. Add garlic and fry for 1 minute, or until garlic becomes fragrant. Be careful not to overcook garlic.
  2. Add black beans and spice mix. Stir to coat the black beans in the spices and to evenly distribute the garlic.
  3. Add water to the pot, bring the water to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low.
  4. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed/boiled away.

Paleo Nacho Casserole

This nacho casserole is packed with delicious Mexican flavours and a ton of vegetables. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a healthier way to satisfy your craving for nachos, and you can load it up with plenty of toppings, including salsa, avocado, and green onion. I considered calling this recipe “Not-yo’ Typical Casserole” but decided that was a bit much…

I made this casserole on one of the last days of the Whole30. Although I don’t plan on sticking to a completely Paleo diet now that the Whole30 is over, I was inspired by a recipe for Paleo Spaghetti Squash Casserole, created by Alysia at Slim Sanity, and wanted to create a similar version with a Mexican twist! This recipe is a great meal prep option if you make it at the start of the week. I had three exams this past week, so I made the casserole on the weekend and ate it over the course of several busy days of studying. It’s easy to get into a pattern of unhealthy eating when you’re stressed during exams. Having a pre-made dinner in my fridge is helpful because it makes it less likely that I’ll go grab some take-out when I want to get back to studying quickly.

Spaghetti squash provides the bulk of the casserole. This squash is great because you can eat a large serving without adding a ton of extra calories. It also has a nice neutral flavour so you can enjoy it with different sauces or spice mixtures. For this recipe, the squash is mixed with taco-seasoned ground chicken, red pepper, onion, spinach, cherry tomatoes, olives, and a little salsa. I’d recommend choosing a squash that is on the smaller side – around 1-1.2 kg – so each bite has a balance of different flavours rather than being overpowered by squash.

If you want to keep this recipe paleo, you’ll have to find a sugar-free salsa. The salsa I’ve been using lately is this one by Herdez – I was surprised when I found it at the grocery store because it’s not full of additives like a lot of other salsas and it still tastes amazing! The only ingredients are tomatoes, onions, serrano peppers, salt, and cilantro.

When you’re making this recipe, there are a few different components to prepare before everything gets mixed together and spread into a casserole dish. The spaghetti squash has to bake, the veggies need to be sauteed, and the ground chicken needs to be cooked. I recommend using three pieces of cookware to prepare everything: a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish, one large pot, and a large frying pan.

Begin by preparing the spaghetti squash and putting it in the oven at 375°. Although a spaghetti squash can be baked whole, it saves cooking time if you cut it in half first. But I’m not going to lie, this can be a bit of a struggle. Usually I get my knife stuck in the squash and then I’m left trying to yank it out sword-in-the-stone style. Not ideal. I told my housemate the other day that if I ever get a cooking-related injury it’s probably going to be when I’m trying to cut a squash in half. So, that being said, be careful! Use a sharp knife and go slowly. I’ve had a bit more success starting at one of the ends and cutting it open from there. Also, if anyone has any hacks for easily splitting a squash in two, please share!

Once you’ve got the squash open, scoop out the seeds, drizzle it with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake the squash in the oven in the casserole dish with the fleshy side down (in the picture below I’ve just flipped it over after removing it from the oven.

While the squash is baking, you can prepare and cook the other ingredients – stir fry the veggies and spices in the large pot, and stir fry the chicken in the frying pan until brown.

After 40-45 minutes, the spaghetti squash will be cooked and you can remove it from the oven. At this point, add the chicken and squash to the big pot with the vegetables, plus an egg and some salsa, and mix everything to combine. I actually don’t have a giant pot in my student house because there aren’t too many occasions where my housemates or I need to make a large recipe. So instead of mixing all the ingredients together in a pot, I used a large bowl to combine everything before baking. Then, pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish (the one that was already used to cook the squash), and bake at 400° for 15 minutes.

When the casserole came out of the oven I topped it with green onion and added some avocado and salsa to each serving.

Pin for later:

Paleo Nacho Casserole

Print Recipe
Paleo Nacho Casserole
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Toppings:
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Toppings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Cut open the spaghetti squash lengthwise, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash face-down in a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
  2. Bake the squash in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until a fork goes through it easily. While the squash is baking, prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Heat a small amount of cooking oil in a frying pan. Add the ground chicken, and stir fry on medium heat until brown - about 15 minutes. When the meat is cooked, add taco seasoning and stir to coat.
  4. Heat cooking oil in a large pot. Add garlic and onion, and stir fry over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add red pepper and all spices and continue stir frying for a few more minutes, until the pepper begins to soften.
  6. Add black olives, cherry tomatoes, and spinach. Stir until the spinach begins to wilt. Remove from heat.
  7. When spaghetti squash is cooked, remove from the oven, and turn the oven temperature up to 400° F. Using a fork, scrape the flesh of the squash into a bowl.
  8. Put the spaghetti squash, chicken, salsa, and egg into the large pot with the cooked vegetables. Mix well until all ingredients are combined.
  9. Pour the mixture into the 9x11 inch casserole dish used to cook the squash. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. When the casserole comes out of the oven, top with green onion, and serve with avocado and salsa.

Garlic-Tahini Rainbow Trout (Whole30)

It doesn’t get much better than a rich, creamy garlic sauce – and this one is dairy-free! The recipe is also gluten-free, Paleo, and Whole30 compliant. The sauce comes together with a few simple, wholesome ingredients, and is spread on a fillet of rainbow trout before baking. I love to pair this dish with roasted veggies, but it would also taste great with some pasta or zucchini noodles on the side!

Well my friends, exam season is here and that means I’m craving warm, hearty comfort food. I had my first two exams today, and I still have two more before I head home for the holidays. The good news is, I’m finished the Whole30 tomorrow, so I can stuff my face with pasta to numb the pain of studying! Just kidding. Today is the last day of the elimination portion of the Whole30, so I’m starting the reintroduction phase tomorrow. I’m planning to reintroduce gluten-free grains first, so tomorrow I’ll have oatmeal for breakfast, some quinoa on my salad at lunch, and gluten-free pasta with turkey meatballs for dinner. Then I’ll be back to the full elimination diet for a few days to see if the newly-introduced foods have any effect on my body.

This rainbow trout recipe has been one of my favourite dinners over the past 30 days. It’s so easy to whip up and so delicious! Also, I’m a huge garlic lover so the creamy sauce is PERFECT. All you need to make the sauce is tahini, a clove of garlic, lemon, onion powder, and salt – then you simply mix it all together, spread on your fish, bake, and enjoy! This recipe makes enough sauce for two fillets of trout, so if I’m just cooking for myself, I’ll cover the leftover sauce and save it to make more fish the next day.

Tahini

If you haven’t used tahini before in your cooking, it’s a creamy condiment made of ground sesame seeds that has a nutty taste. I use it as a base for a lot of my salad dressings and lately I’ve been using it in stir fries too. It’s a great ingredient to have on hand, as it’s incredibly versatile, and a good source of protein, healthy fats, and B vitamins. Lately I’ve been experimenting with energy ball recipes using my food processor, and tahini has appeared in a few of them. I’m still trying to get the ingredient ratios just right, but if you buy some tahini now, hopefully I’ll have another recipe posted soon that uses it!

Side Dishes

In the pictures for this post, I paired the recipe with some roasted carrots and boiled broccoli. If you haven’t tried roasting your carrots before, I highly recommend it. I never used to be a big fan of carrots until I started tossing them in a little olive oil and garlic salt and roasting them. I find them much more flavourful when they’re cooked this way, rather than boiled. When I’m not following the Whole30, I’ll likely have this recipe with gluten-free pasta and tomato sauce, or some rice. If you’re looking to get more greens in your diet, try serving the rainbow trout on a bed of spinach, or adding the fish to the top of a salad!

 

Print Recipe
Garlic-Tahini Rainbow Trout (Whole30)
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat a conventional oven (or toaster oven) to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, tahini, garlic, onion powder, and sea salt. Mix thoroughly until a smooth sauce forms.
  3. Place the fillets of rainbow trout onto the baking sheet. Spoon a generous portion of the sauce onto each fillet.
  4. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce is golden brown and the fish is flaky.

Turkey and Sweet Potato Pasta Sauce

This hearty pasta sauce is packed full of veggies, and will keep you full well past dinner time, with turkey for protein and sweet potato for some extra carbs and nutrients. It’s a perfect addition to spiralized zucchini, and it’s gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo. 

 This sauce is one of my favourite recipes I’ve created so far. Not only is it an amazing way to add more veggies into my diet, but I can make it at the start of the week and usually get 4 or more meals from it. It’s fairly easy to throw together – just chop all the veggies first, then everything except the spices and tomatoes go in a pot to stir fry until the turkey has browned, and then you add the tomatoes and spices and simmer until the sweet potato is soft.

My favourite ways to enjoy this sauce:

  1. On top of spiralized zucchini (zucchini noodles or “zoodles” as I like to refer to them). I used to be a bit of a pasta addict. It was my go-to meal during second year, and although it was delicious, eating it in large quantities was not doing great things to my body. After I decided to stop eating gluten because it was contributing to a lot of inflammation, I replaced my usual spaghetti with zoodles and was surprised to find that I was equally satisfied! Maybe I’m just a sucker for something you have to twirl up before you eat. Zoodles are great because you can add a lot of bulk to your meal without a ton of extra calories. This sauce is perfect for zoodles because the sweet potato provides a source of carbs, which you don’t get as much of when using zoodles instead of pasta. I use the OXO Good Grip Hand Held Spiralizer to make my zoodles, which I’ve found works well for zucchini – I haven’t tried it using other veggies.

  2. On top of gluten-free pasta. This is a more traditional use for pasta sauce, and it is definitely delicious! Catelli makes excellent gluten-free noodles. Pictured below is my sauce on top of Catelli’s gluten-free fusilli.

One thing that’s great about this sauce is that it tastes delicious cold (at least I think so) so I can take it to campus for lunch, and don’t have to worry about finding a microwave to heat it up.

Monday Eats

Zoodles and this pasta sauce were the way I ended my day today, but my other two meals were also very delicious.

Breakfast

Scrambled eggs with yellow pepper, onion, and homemade salsa; roasted potatoes; tomato slices.

I made some salsa at the start of the week in my food processor from a recipe I found online, and although it was edible, it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.  So next week I’m going to experiment more to try and develop my own salsa recipe! I like making my own salsa because salsas from stores often contain a lot of salt. My skin is really sensitive to the amount of salt I put in my body, so I like to reduce sodium whenever possible.

Lunch

Salad with roasted chicken, chopped Granny Smith apple, cucumber, celery, and lettuce. Topped with apple cider vinegar for dressing.

Before I left campus after my last class, I went to the gym and did a full-body circuit workout. I’ve been experimenting with Tabata-style workouts lately; today’s workout consisted of three circuits made up of 4 exercises in each circuit. Each circuit had a specific focus (lower body, upper body, abs), and combined a variety of bodyweight, cardio, and free weight moves. I’ll be posting some of my favourite circuit workouts soon!

I definitely had a large helping of sauce on top of my zoodles to refuel after my challenging workout!

Print Recipe
Turkey and Sweet Potato Pasta Sauce
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add onion and garlic, and cook for 1-2 minutes on medium heat.
  2. Add celery, carrot, sweet potato, and ground turkey. Stir with a spatula to combine the vegetables and break up the turkey. Continue stir-frying until the turkey has browned (about 15 minutes).
  3. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and basil. Stir to combine.
  4. Bring the sauce to a simmer and turn the heat down to low. Continue to simmer the sauce until the sweet potato has softened (approximately 30-45 minutes).

How to Poach an Egg

Growing up, poached eggs were (and still are), my dad’s specialty. He’d put them on everything, from traditional toast or English muffin, to pancakes and oatmeal (eeek!) Although I never took him up on his offers to make the latter two options, I have gotten a little more creative with my uses for poached eggs – I’ll often put them on top of roasted veggies (typically sweet potato or cauliflower), or I’ll top my salad off with an egg for some extra protein.

Being able to poach an egg is a good skill to have as a university student – eggs cooked this way are versatile, quick to make, and delicious! Poaching your eggs is also a healthy way to consume eggs, as poaching does not require the addition of fats or oils. Recipes featuring poached eggs will definitely appear on my blog in the future, so I figured it was best to start off with a little lesson on how to successfully prepare your eggs this way. Below I have included a recipe for a salad I eat frequently for lunch. This salad allows me to get some green veggies into my diet, while the sweet potato provides a source of carbohydrates, healthy fat comes from the avocado, and a poached egg on top provides protein. The recipe below includes step-by-step poaching instructions. I have also included instructions to make a simple dressing with balsamic vinegar; however, I often just have this salad dressed with apple cider vinegar.

One thing to note: some instructions for poached eggs suggest adding a splash of vinegar to the water you cook the eggs in, the reason being that the vinegar causes the egg whites to firm up faster, preventing them from spreading around in the water. Because I didn’t have any vinegar in my house when I first started poaching eggs, I’ve just been using boiling water, and my eggs generally turn out very well.

Print Recipe
Sweet Potato and Green Salad w/Poached Egg
This is the perfect salad to have as a balanced lunch, allowing you to get some extra servings of veggies into your diet!
Course Lunch
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
person
Ingredients
Salad
Dressing
Course Lunch
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
person
Ingredients
Salad
Dressing
Instructions
  1. Peel a sweet potato and chop into small cubes. Toss in cooking oil and sprinkle with salt (or garlic salt if you have it). Using a toaster oven or conventional oven, bake sweet potato at 400ºF for 25 minutes.
  2. While sweet potato is cooking, tear lettuce and place in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Dice cucumber and slice celery stalks. Add on top of the lettuce.
  4. Carve avocado into small pieces and add to the top of the salad.
  5. Mix dressing: add ingredients for dressing to a small bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork.
  6. When the sweet potato is cooked, remove from oven and add to top of salad. I usually flatten out the layer of sweet potato to create a bed to set the poached egg on. Add dressing to salad, and then cook egg using the method described below.
How to Poach an Egg
  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, then reduce to medium-low, so the water is simmering.
  2. Crack an egg into a small bowl, being careful to keep the yolk intact (if the yolk breaks you can save it in the fridge and use it in an omelette or scrambled egg another day).
  3. When your water is simmering, use a spoon and stir the water quickly to create a “whirlpool” in the centre of the pot.
  4. Then, putting the bowl close to the water, pour the egg into the centre of the whirlpool. The egg will spin a bit before settling on the bottom of the pot.
  5. Set a timer for 3.5 minutes if you want your yolk to be runny, and increase the time if you want a firmer yolk.
  6. After 3.5 minutes have elapsed, use a slotted spoon to remove the poached egg from the pot and place the egg on the salad, on top of the sweet potato.