Amber’s Post: Could it be, black beans?

The past couple of weeks I have been considerably busy with school. As project deadlines have crept up between studying for exams I’ve been trying to maintain my sanity. For some, this might mean getting to the gym for an hour a day to exert some energy and built up stress. Although I love to run, finding the time is not always easy. Instead I focus on the food I’m eating to get the fuel I need in order to stay alert and content during all hours of the day.

This past summer I struck gold at Trader Joe’s when I came across their black bean pasta. As someone who doesn’t consume meat, fish or dairy, I am always looking for ways to incorporate more protein into my meals. When I stumbled across the pasta, which has 14 grams of protein  per serving, I was quite excited. As it has the familiar comfort of any other pasta, it’s also high in dietary fiber and a good source of iron. If added protein is less of a concern in your diet, but you are still looking to avoid processed pastas, consider making zucchini noodles in summer (see past posts on this!) or the aptly named spaghetti squash in fall and winter. Spaghettipic squash has recently hit the local farmers’ market landscape and freezes up well for future use.

It takes about 10 minutes to cook, so I’ll make it between classes or before I head to the library. Combined with some local ingredients in season, you have the makings of a quick and complete meal! My own go-to recipe has greens, like spinach or kale, broccoli, and pasta sauce with some balsamic vinegar over the top. I have yet to feel unsatisfied after eating it, and never feel bad about the choice I’ve made.

A Quick Tip—-

Because broccoli can take some time to cook, I’ve recently been purchasing organic frozen broccoli for the days when I don’t have time to chop up my own. Although they aren’t as fresh as locally produced vegetables, frozen vegetables are usually picked when ripe, blanched in hot water to kill bacteria, and then flash frozen to preserve nutrients. When broccoli is available locally, you can think ahead to buy extra at the farmers’ market and then blanch and freeze it to enjoy all winter long. For frozen broccoli, I’ll microwave my broccoli for 2 minutes and then add some garlic before putting the bowl back into the microwave for another 30 seconds.

So, if you know your week is going to be busy, definitely pick up a bag of black bean pasta to keep your energy up and taste buds satisfied!

Recipe —

3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Black Bean Pasta

1/2 cup tomato sauce (there are many quick stove top recipes using fresh tomatoes, or you could try bottled sauce from a vendor like Valicente)

1 cup Broccoli

1 cup baby kale or spinach

1 tsp garlic

1 tsp balsamic

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