Black Bean & Butternut Squash Quesadillas (Dairy Free!)

In the spirit of the holidays, I decided to feature butternut squash in a unique way this week, in one of my favorite foods, quesadillas!  It gives this meal a creamy, hearty base that's packed with vitamins and minerals.  The black beans add some extra protein and the spinach tops this meal off with 10% of your daily value of calcium (pretty impressive for a cheese-less quesadilla).  

I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!  See you back here soon!

Black Bean & Butternut Squash Quesadillas
Makes 2 Servings

2/3 cup butternut squash
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 cup corn
1/2 cup fresh spinach
2-10 inch whole wheat tortillas
1/2 Tbsp. butter or margarine

Sauté or microwave squash until soft.  Spread squash on half of each tortilla and mash with a fork.  Layer black bean and corn on top of squash.  Sauté spinach until wilted and place on tortilla.  Fold each tortilla in half and add butter to pan on medium heat.  Cook each tortilla until golden brown on each side, about 3-5 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and let rest for 1-2 minutes.  Cut each tortilla into thirds and serve with salsa or other toppings.

Nutrition Facts: 369 Calories, 9g Fat, 60g Carbohydrates, 15g Protein, 12g Fiber, 194mg Sodium, 972mg Potassium


Black and White Chili

Football season is in full swing and, for many people, with that comes Sundays spent drinking beer, eating chips and dip and many batches of chili.  Chili can be a delicious, low stress meal made from basically whatever you happen to have in your pantry, all in one pot.  It kind of reminds me of those infomercials: "Just set it and forget it!".  Someone please give their marketing guy a raise!

This weekend I made what I call "Black and White Chili" because we had an abundance of black beans and white beans in the cupboard.  Insert pun about the referees' uniforms here.  Consider substituting garbanzo or kidney beans and adding ground beef or turkey for just a few variations to this game day staple.    

Black and White Chili
Makes 12 1-cup servings

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups onion, diced
1 cup orange bell pepper
2 16-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes, not drained
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 15-ounce cans black beans
1 15-ounce cans small white beans
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add garlic, onion and peppers and sauté for 5 minutes.  Drain and rinse beans and add to pot.  Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and enough water to rinse the cans to the pot.  Stir in seasonings and reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes. 

Nutrition Facts: 409 Calories, 3g Fat, 74g Carbohydrate, 25g Protein, 18.5g Fiber, 219mg Sodium, 2015mg Potassium


What is a Registered Dietitian and what can they do for me?

A big thank you to Kelli over Hungry Hobby for the great cookbooks and FNCE swag I received in the mail this week! 

If any of you have ever been to FNCE or the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (you can see why we call it FNCE) you know all about the great resources, presentations, networking and FREE STUFF!  Last month it was held in Atlanta, Georgia and it is the largest conference for nutrition professionals in the world.  It will be coming back to Boston, Massachusetts in 2016 and you can bet I’ll be there.

So what exactly is a nutrition professional?  What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian? 

A dietitian is a nutritionist but not all nutritionists are dietitians.  Make sense?  If not then let me explain.

Nutritionists usually have a degree or course in nutrition and focus on wellness, working with the general public.  Registered Dietitians (RD’s) are food and nutrition experts who use research-based evidence to improve health and fight disease.  All complete an approved internship program, pass a registration exam and many seek advanced degrees.  Also, some states such as Maine require Registered Dietitians to be licensed in order to practice under state guidelines.   RD’s now have the options to refer to themselves as Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) as a way to reflect to the public what we do.

Where do Registered Dietitians work?

Registered Dietitians may work in hospitals, grocery stores, private practice, community and public health, food industry, journalism, sports nutrition or corporate wellness programs.  The list goes on and on! 

As a clinical dietitian, I work with the healthcare team to provide optimal nutrition for those with acute and chronic diseases.  This can include conducting assessments, providing education or making recommendations for enteral (nutrition administered to the GI tract) or parenteral nutrition (nutrition administered to the bloodstream). 

What can a Registered Dietitian do for you?

Provide individualized nutrition counselling for weight management, food allergies and intolerances, healthful eating and prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.

Many insurance companies will cover a visit to a Registered Dietitian at the recommendation of your doctor so be sure to ask!