By Brianna Honea
Black beans and sweet potatoes are healthy and low in cost — great for families on a tight budget. Legumes and beans are low in fat, contain no cholesterol and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fiber. A good source of protein, legumes are a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol.
It can be challenging to serve healthy meals on a budget, but with planning you can eat better for less. You can save money by adding meatless meals to your weekly menus. Meatless meals are built around vegetables, beans and grains — instead of meat, which is more expensive. Meatless meals also offer health benefits. A plant-based diet emphasizes vegetables and fruits, grains, beans and legumes, and nuts, is rich in fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. People who eat only plant-based foods — aka vegetarians — generally eat fewer calories and less fat, weigh less and have a lower risk of heart disease than meat-eaters. I have adopted a plant-based diet (I am vegan) and feel healthier than ever. I think a plant-based diet has helped me to have more energy, clarity and a great immune system. I encourage everyone to consider the advantages of plant-based diet for their family.
I love this hearty soup — this recipe brings a lot of flavor.
Black Bean & Sweet Potato Soup
Recipe adapted from Plant-Powered 15 written by Dreena Burton
1-2 tablespoon(s) water
1½ – 1¾ cups chopped onions (one large onion)
1½ cups combination of chopped red peppers and green peppers
1¼ teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste (generous is good)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds (if substituting cumin powder, use a little less; fennel seeds can also be a substitute)
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
¼ teaspoon allspice (rounded)
¼ teaspoon (or less/more, to taste) red pepper flakes
4 medium-large cloves garlic, minced or grated
4½ – 5 cups black beans (reserve 1 cup; this is three 14-15 oz cans)
3 cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
½ – 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1 bay leaf
1½ cups cubed (in small chunks, about ½”) yellow sweet potato
Optional: Chopped cilantro, lime wedges or chopped avocado with a dash of lime and salt for serving
In a large pot over medium-high heat, add water, onions, red and green peppers, salt and pepper, cumin seeds, oregano, allspice, and red pepper flakes. Let cook for 5-7 minutes until onions and peppers start to soften. Add garlic. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and let cook another few minutes to soften garlic – if sticking/burning, add another splash of water. After a few minutes of cooking, add 3½ cups beans (reserving one cup of beans), water, tomato paste, vinegar, lime juice, and maple syrup (start with ½ teaspoon). Using an immersion blender, puree soup until fairly smooth. Increase heat to bring to boil, add bay leaf and diced sweet potatoes, then once at boil reduce and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add remaining cup of black beans and extra maple syrup if desired (taste test). Stir through, let simmer for another few minutes, then serve, topping with cilantro if desired and with lime wedges. Also delicious to top soup with some chopped avocado or guacamole.
Brianna has worked as the WBWC’s Business Director since 2005. In her spare time she enjoys studying nutrition, cooking, running, teaching yoga and spending time with her family, including 8 younger siblings.