UPDATED – Baked Alaska – An elegant dessert for a celebration

New Year’s eve is coming soon and to celebrate the day, I thought it would be fun to make something special like Baked Alaska. This is a family favorite that I have been eating since childhood and making for almost 30 years.

Who invented Baked Alaska?

Alaska was purchased in 1867 from Russia for $7.2 million (a little over $100 million in 2016 dollars).  To celebrate the acquisition of the new territory, Chef Charles Ranhofer at Delmonico’s steakhouse in New York City created this dessert.  (March 30 1867)

When did I first eat this amazing dessert?

One of my first memories of eating Baked Alaska was at summer camp when I must have been about 10 years old.   I still vividly remember the waitresses (counselors) parading through the mess hall with Baked Alaska for all of us to celebrate some special occasion I can no longer recall. What an introduction to this wonderful dessert!

My mother started a new tradition of making Baked Alaska at home as a special birthday treat soon after I regaled her with tales of what had happened at camp.   This was certainly a tradition I endorsed.  Back then she made it with regular meringue with unpasteurized eggs, not the Italian meringue I now use in my recipe.  We didn’t worry as much about food safety in those days.   I guess we didn’t know as much about the potential perils of eating raw unpasteurized eggs as we do today.

Start a day or two in advance so the cake and ice cream are fully frozen

To make this dish you need to start a day in advance (or more), and before you start make sure you have adequate space in your freezer for the individual desserts.  Be forewarned, once you make this one time for your friends or family, they’ll never let you off the hook again.  In fact, you’ll probably find yourself making it over and over again for birthdays, holidays and the occasional family treat.

Do I personally eat Baked Alaska?

In case you are wondering, yes, I eat Baked Alaska on special occasions, despite being a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).   Some things in life are just too good to miss…savor every moment and I hope you always enjoy good food, good health, and good friends.

 

Happy New Year!!

Have a wonderful 2020!!

 

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Baked Alaska - An elegant dessert for a celebration
A festive dessert for nearly any celebration. To cut down on the preparation time, use slices from a commercially prepared pound cake.
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Course Dessert, Holidays
Cuisine American
Prep Time 55 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 15 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Cake Bases
Italian Meringue
Course Dessert, Holidays
Cuisine American
Prep Time 55 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 15 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Cake Bases
Italian Meringue
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Instructions
prepare cake bases
  1. check your freezer to make sure you have enough space for three trays (4 to a tray) desserts.
  2. cut 6 parchment paper squares approximately 6" x 6"
  3. In the meantime, sift the cake flour and set it aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. When soft peaks begin to form, slowly add 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  5. Add 1/4 of the beaten egg whites to the yolk and stir gently. Carefully fold the remaining egg whites, flour and salt into the yolks. Do not over mix.
  6. Place batter in parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until done.
  7. Set cake aside to cool. While the cake is cooling, cut a new parchment sheet into twelve 4″ squares.
  8. When the cake is completely cool, cut into 2 3/4″ rounds. Place one cake round on each parchment square.
  9. Working quickly, place one scoop of ice cream (approximately 1.5 oz. size scoop) in the center of each cake round. I often use coffee flavor, but you can use any flavor you prefer.
  10. Place tray of cake bases with ice cream in freezer for several hours to re-freeze the ice cream.
Italian Meringue
  1. Place sugar, corn syrup and water in a small pot on the stove and heat until boiling.
  2. Continue to heat. When temperature of the sugar syrup gets close to 220 degrees F (use the candy thermometer) begin beating egg whites in mixer until soft peaks are formed.
  3. Slowly add 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar and continue to beat for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
  4. When temperature of sugar syrup reaches approximately 240 degrees F, pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites while the mixer is on high.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Information (per serving): 189 calories; 17 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 107 mg cholesterol; 173 mg sodium; 67 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 10 grams protein (values are approximate).

Hoppin’ John — A Southern Tradition for a Happy New Year!

 

Wishing you a happy, healthy 2019!

To start the year off right, this guest post comes to us from Sonja Stetzler, MA, RDN, CPC, a registered dietitian who works as a health and communications coach. Born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, Sonja loves sharing southern food traditions.

Sonja originally shared this recipe with me several years ago, and it was a popular post. So here it is again — it is a delicious dish and is believed to bring good luck for the New Year.

 

Cooking for Some Luck in the New Year!

By Sonja Stetzler, MA, RDN, CPC

As food traditions go, my southern family is much like the rest of America. We had corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day, hamburgers and hotdogs on Fourth of July, and turkey on Thanksgiving. However, our New Year’s Day meal would not be complete unless we had Hoppin’ John – a dish containing black-eye peas, chopped onions, rice and bacon.

Eating Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day is a southern tradition

Eating it on New Year’s Day is thought to bring a year filled with good luck. The peas are symbolic of pennies or coins. Greens such as collards, mustard greens, chard, kale, or cabbage are prepared to go with Hoppin’ John, as the greens represent currency and are supposed to add to one’s wealth. Cornbread is also served as its golden color symbolizes gold.

Over the years, chefs have created many variations of the traditional Hoppin’ John dish.  Despite the many variations in preparing this southern tradition, I wouldn’t dream of starting my New Year without black-eyed peas and greens – for fear I would have a little less jingle in my pocket and a little less green in my wallet in the upcoming year.

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Hoppin' John and Black Eye Peas -- Happy New Year!
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
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Recipe Notes

Nutrition information per serving:  420 calories;  9 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 0 grams transfat;  15 mg cholesterol;  750 mg sodium;  69 grams carbohydrate;   8 grams dietary fiber;  17 grams protein (values are approximate).

If you are looking for a lower calorie option to help bring some good luck in the New Year, try making Black-eye Pea Salad as an alternative to Hoppin' John...

 

Sonja Stetzler, MA, RDN, CPC is a registered dietitian who works as a health and communications coach. Born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, she loves sharing southern food traditions.  In her practice, Sonja coaches her clients to make small steps to reach goals, believing that consistent small steps over time will result in sustainable, positive outcomes.  Find Sonja at www.effectiveconnecting.com.

 

Individual Cheesecakes for Dessert

Cheesecake is a favorite dessert for many people that is often served this time of year. It is traditionally made with full fat regular cream cheese, whole eggs, sugar and sometimes even heavy cream.  It is delicious – however, it is not very compatible with a healthy eating program, at least when it is made in the traditional manner. As a result, it should generally be reserved for special occasions and eaten in small amounts.

cheesecake Cheesecake is a favorite dessert for many people. It is traditionally made with full fat regular cream cheese, whole eggs, sugar and sometimes even heavy cream.  It is delicious. However, it is not very compatible with a healthy eating program, at least when made in the traditional manner. As a result, you should reserve it for special occasions and eat it in small amounts.

A Lighter Heathier Cheesecake

I’ve adapted this recipe in an effort to provide a somewhat lighter, somewhat healthier, version of this treat. I’ve substituted reduced fat cream cheese for the regular cream cheese. I also replaced one of the eggs with egg whites and used nonfat Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream.  I also used nonfat sweetened condensed milk which does add sweetness from the sugar but saves on the fat.  The crust is graham cracker crumbs and olive oil – the topping a simple raspberry compote made from frozen raspberries, a little sugar, water and some lemon juice.

Inspired by The Hotel Portillo in Chile

chile

The inspiration for this recipe came from the chef at the Hotel Portillo in Portillo, Chile who makes cheesecake with full fat cream cheese, regular condensed milk, sugar in the graham cracker crust and no yogurt.

A Great Dessert for a Weeknight or Get Together

Because I have adapted the ingredients in this recipe to create a somewhat healthier version of this cheesecake, this dish is a good option to serve once in a while as a weeknight dessert for your family after a home cooked meal.

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Happy Holidays! Individual Cheesecakes for Dessert
Individual Cheesecake
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Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20-30 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
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cheesecakes
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Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20-30 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
cheesecakes
Ingredients
Individual Cheesecake
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Recipe Notes

Approximate nutrition information per serving (without topping): 400 calories; 18 grams fat; 4.6 grams saturated fat; 0 grams transfat; 36 mg cholesterol; 310 mg sodium; 50 grams carbohydrate; 0.7 grams dietary fiber; 9 grams protein.

Feeling Stressed at the Holidays?

angry and stressedHow many times in the last few weeks has someone said to you “I’m totally stressed out.” They then proceed, in a jumble of words, with a recitation of all the things they have to do, all the things they think they have to do, and everything else that’s on their mind.

When you then throw breast cancer into the mix, you may find that you feel depressed, overwhelmed or at a loss for what to do in order to calm yourself and your emotions.

Everyone feels stress

Everyone feels stress at this time of year (and some feel it all year long.)

Some types of stress are “good”. Welcoming a new infant into your family. Getting a new job.

Other types of stress are “bad”. Losing a parent. Being diagnosed with a chronic and serious disease. Feeling like you are alone and don’t have a family or friends to support you.

What to do?

First, sit down with your morning cup of tea or coffee and think about your life and your feelings.

Second, make a list of everything you have to do. Prioritize the list. Eliminate things that are not essential. Make a plan for how your day will go.

Third, think about a happy time in your life. Close your eyes and bring up a picture in your mind of how you felt, where you were, who was with you, what is the memory you cherish the most

Fourth, take a brief walk outside and take a series of deep breaths. I know you have a lot to do, but you need to give yourself a break periodically throughout the day.

Fifth, make sure you get enough sleep. After a busy day, your body and your brain need time to recover.

Stress can impact your health

Stress is a risk factor with a documented impact on your neuro-endocrine and immune system. Numerous studies have shown a physical impact on your health.

Remember that you are strong and you can handle anything that comes your way.

To learn more, click here

 

Happy Holidays!

Gingerbread House

 

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving and were able to share your life with family and friends. Once the weekend is over and everyone goes back to their jobs and their regular life. It’ s time to put up the tree, get out the menorah, or whatever decorations and traditions you follow. It is typically a happy time of year to celebrate. You might make a gingerbread house, a snowman or snow fort if you are lucky enough to have an early snow fall. If you live near a hill, you might even get to do some sledding.

 

 

 

 

A small break with tradition

MINI CONTEST:

Guess who cooked Thanksgiving Dinner this year?

I. A professional chef we hired for the occasion

II. My husband, took over preparation of the entire meal

III. My mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, brother or other friend

IV. Fill in your best/wildest guess and receive recognition for your practice/business in a blog post that will announce the winners including one link to your home page, click here to send an email with your contest entry. Note: Decision of the judges will be final and other rules may apply.

Deadline to enter is Friday, December 21, 2018 by 12:00 Noon Eastern Time.

 

On to the rest of the holidays!

I hope you get some time off throughout the holiday season to enjoy the pleasure of spending time with your family and friends. With all the turmoil we face around the world, this is a good time to pause and think about all the good things that have happened this year.

 

Peace on Earth

TURKEY FOR TWO

Turkey for Two

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner can be a challenge when you are cooking for two, or even for one.  I hope that you have a large and wonderful holiday planned with lots of happy animated guests.

If this year it’s just you, or you and a friend, here’s a way to have a great meal without too much work. It will give you time to enjoy a walk outside in the beautiful fall weather.

 

A brief history of the holiday

Abe Lincoln played a role in establishing Thanksgiving as a National HolidayThanksgiving has evolved over the years to how it is presented today.

The holiday was first celebrated around 1621 in the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts. It it was a celebration of thanks for a bountiful harvest that was gradually adopted across the US.

President Abraham Lincoln is credited with giving the Holiday a boost in 1863. He  declared that there would be a celebration of the victory at Gettysburg on August 6; and a second celebration to gather family and friends and give thanks for the good harvest on the last Thursday in November. Congress passed a law in 1941 to secure the fourth Thursday each year as a National Holiday.

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TURKEY FOR TWO
When Thanksgiving comes around and it's just you, or you and a friend. Here's a way to plan a nice dinner without too many leftovers that are hard to deal with.
Turkey for Two
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Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 1/2 hours
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Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 1/2 hours
Servings
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Ingredients
Turkey for Two
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees if using a convection oven).
  2. Mix onion, garlic, spices and lemon juice in a small bowl. Place turkey breast on a baking sheet and cover with spice mixture.
  3. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Roast in the oven for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, removing foil for last 20-25 minutes so that turkey breast will brown. Cooking time will vary based on the size and shape of the turkey breast, and whether it is boneless or not.
  4. Turkey must be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees (use a meat thermometer).
  5. Once you remove it from the oven, allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes loosely covered with foil. Some carry over cooking may occur. Carve and enjoy.
  6. For an easy alternative to stuffing, try Quinoa with Mushrooms and Dried Cranberries.
Recipe Notes

*If you can't find this cut, you may substitute a small regular turkey breast. Cooking time will be longer.

Nutrition information per serving:    270 calories; 3 grams fat;  1 gram saturated fat; 120 mg cholesterol; 200 mg sodium; 5 grams carbohydrate;  1 gram dietary fiber;  48 grams protein (values are approximate)

(Source: https://www.plimoth.org/learn/just-kids/homework-help/thanksgiving/thanksgiving-history).

Mint Mojito Mocktail

mint mojito mocktail

Moving into summer, sometimes it is nice to enjoy a refreshing beverage with all the sophistication and complex flavors of a cocktail but without the alcohol. This Mint Mojito Mocktail is a sweet choice for pre-dinner cocktails or as an after dinner drink.

Mojito cocktails around the world

Originally from Cuba, you can now find mojitos being served in many different spots around the world. For example I’ve been served mint mojitos for Cinco de Mayo.  It is a recognition of the Mexican army’s victory over France in the 1862, Battle of Puebla. In Mexico, it is a somewhat minor holiday.

In the US, always looking for a reason to celebrate, Cinco de Mayo parties pop up in many places. Mojitos are also popular to serve at summer gatherings such as the 4th of July, Labor Day or other festive days.  If you have guests who don’t drink alcohol this mint mojito mocktail is a nice alternative to canned soft drinks or bottled water.

 

An Easy and Refreshing Mocktail

If you are hosting a brunch, lunch or dinner party with guests who prefer to not not drink alcohol, or if you are simply looking for an easy non-alcoholic beverage for yourself, this recipe is a great option.  Coming in at just 50 calories per serving, the fresh mint in this mocktail is refreshing after a busy day. It only takes about 10 minutes to make.  Serve over ice alongside Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce or Yellow Beet and Tomato Bruschetta and you are ready for a sweet celebration!

 

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Mint Mojito Mocktail
Mint Mojito Mocktail
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Course Beverages
Cuisine American, Cuban
Prep Time 10 minutes
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Course Beverages
Cuisine American, Cuban
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
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Mint Mojito Mocktail
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Recipe Notes

Nutrition information per serving: 50 calories; 0 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 grams transfat; 0 mg cholesterol; 20 mg sodium;  13 grams carbohydrate;  0 grams dietary fiber;  0 grams protein (values are approximate)

Ratatouille to celebrate Bastille Day

Storming of the Bastille
The Storming of the Bastille. Artist: Charles Thevenin. ca.1793. etching. Source: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/384288

ratatouille ingredientsSaturday, July 14 is Bastille Day, the French national holiday that commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. This date marked  the start of the French Revolution. Some of the factors which fueled the revolution, were “discontent with the monarchy and the poor economic policies of King Louis XVI” (The French Revolution).  The extravagant lifestyle of the king and queen (Marie Antoinette) no doubt also played a role in inciting the the population.

My First Bastille Day in Paris

One of my happy memories is when I was a student in Paris. This was back in my early 20s and I had occasion to be there for the Bastille Day celebration.  It was a wonderful day and night of festivities, with many revelers filling the streets with joyful celebration.  I’ll never forget how glorious the Champs Elysses looked all lit up on that special night. Was it the magic of Paris? Or the magic of being 20-something celebrating my own independence with friends in the city of lights?

Bring Paris to You by making a classic French Ratatouille

Many of us can’t get to Paris by Bastille day. Instead, we can bring a little Paris into our homes and make French cuisine to celebrate.  Ratatouille is a wonderfully easy summer dish.  If you are trying to lose some weight, at 40 calories per 1/2 cup serving, Ratatouille can be included as part of a healthy eating plan to help you reach your weight loss goals.

The Many Variations of Ratatouille

Ratatouille goes well with grilled fish, chicken, or beef. It can also be served as an hors d’oeuvre. Just add it to a toasted slice of crusty baguette or toasted whole grain pita. There are many variations of this classic dish, for example, many recipes add red or green bell peppers into the mix.  You can also make it more savory or less by adding more garlic and other herbs — what’s your favorite variation?

If you don’t have the olive oil or spices on hand you can purchase them in the shop.

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Celebrate Bastille Day with Ratatouille
Ratatouille to celebrate Bastille Day
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Course Vegetarian
Cuisine French
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
cups
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Course Vegetarian
Cuisine French
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
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Ratatouille to celebrate Bastille Day
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Recipe Notes

Approximate Nutrition Information per 1/2 cup serving: 40 calories; 2 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 grams transfat; 0 mg cholesterol;  80 mg sodium;  6 grams carbohydrate;  2 grams dietary fiber;  1 gram protein.

Red White and Blue Berry Pavlova

Happy 4th of July!  I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend and can get some time off from your busy life to get together with family and friends.  To help you celebrate, here’s a tried and true dessert, Red White and Blue Berry Pavlova.

What is a Pavlova?

A pavlova is a meringue based dessert filled with sweetened whip cream and topped with berries or fruit.  Pavlova’s are often associated with either Australia or New Zealand.  They date back to the 1920s or 30s.  They are thought to have been named in honor of a Russian ballerina from around the turn of the century – Anna Pavlova.

 

Berry Pavlova is a Fun and Special Dessert

This recipe makes a great addition to the menu for a 4th of July gathering or other summer celebrations.  The meringues and whip cream filling create a background of white and the combination of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries combine into a red white and blue color scheme perfect for a festive holiday. This dessert is a fun and special way to celebrate Independence Day.

Cooking Tip for Making Meringues

Make sure the temperature in your kitchen is cool if you are making meringues.  If it is too hot, the meringues will be difficult to make and may end up sticky, instead of dry and light. Stop by the shop if you want to purchase the ramekins or other ingredients to make this recipe.

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Red White and Blue Berry Pavlova
Red White and Blue Berry Pavlova
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Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 1/4 hours
Servings
Pavlovas
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 1/4 hours
Servings
Pavlovas
Ingredients
Red White and Blue Berry Pavlova
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Recipe Notes

Nutrition Information per serving (1 pavlova): 140 calories; 8 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 0 grams transfat; 30 mg cholesterol;  20 mg sodium;   17 grams carbohydrate;  2 grams dietary fiber;  2 grams protein (values are approximate).

Black Bean and Corn Salad

black bean and corn saladHappy Cinco de Mayo! This holiday is a recognition of the Mexican army’s victory over France in the 1862, Battle of Puebla. In Mexico, it is a somewhat minor holiday.  In the US, with many people who are always looking for a reason to celebrate, Cinco de Mayo parties pop up in many places.

Not just for Cinco de Mayo

If you want to incorporate Central or South American cuisine into your repertoire of dishes, this black bean and corn salad is an easy recipe to make. I make it year round as it keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator, can be made quickly in advance or just prior to serving, and uses ingredients that are staples in my pantry.

Plant-based Protein from Beans and Corn

Many Central and South American cuisines combine corn and beans in their recipes. Although corn is an incomplete protein on its own, according to Old Ways Whole Grains Council, corn and beans have complementary amino acids and create a complete protein when blended in a dish. Due to the combined nutrients within the two ingredients, recipes with corn and beans make a good source of plant-based protein.

Easy to prepare and expand

If you know you have a busy day coming up, you can make it a day ahead of time and serve it the next day. It is also a very easy recipe to expand if you are serving a large crowd. This makes it a great addition to the menu for picnics or tailgate parties. Simply double the ingredients to create a larger dish.To spice it up a bit, you can also add some chopped red, green or yellow bell peppers. Since it doesn’t contain any mayonnaise, it is also a good choice for outdoor dining when the weather turns hot.

How to serve this black bean and corn salad

You can serve this black bean and corn salad as a hearty side dish with grilled chicken or fish. Or if you are following a vegetarian diet pattern, you can enjoy this salad as a main dish. This will add to your healthy intake of protein for the day. Need an easy to make weekday lunch?  Black bean and corn salad makes an excellent choice.

Make it once or twice and it will soon become a staple in your menu lineup!

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Black Bean and Corn Salad
Black Bean and Corn Salad
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Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
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Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
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Black Bean and Corn Salad
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Instructions
  1. Rinse beans and drain.
  2. Cook frozen corn in a little water for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Mix all ingredients in a medium size bowl.
  4. Adjust seasonings, if needed.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Information (per serving): 140 calories; 4 grams fat; 0.5 grams saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 160 mg sodium; 21 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams dietary fiber; 7 grams protein (values are approximate).