Recipes for your New Year's resolutions

The dawning of the new year means it is time to come up with some resolutions. After an indulgent holiday season, how about we all resolve to be healthy in 2018?

Start by eating better. This resolution is not about deprivation; it’s about staying strong. If it’s been a while, reinstate Meatless Mondays with some low-cost and delicious bean-based dishes. Black beans are my favorite, so I’m offering two alternatives. Both are loaded with flavor and great vegetables.

Happy New Year!  

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili

Enjoy half the chili now and freeze the rest for another night.

Serves 8-10

1 lb. dried black beans
2 bay leaves
1 large sweet potato
Olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 (or more) chipotle pepper(s) in adobo, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
4-6 c. vegetable or chicken stock or broth
3/4 c. sour cream
Grated cheddar cheese

Rinse beans, put them in a bowl, add water to cover by about 4 inches and soak overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with foil.

Prick sweet potato several times with a knife; place on baking sheet and in the oven. Reduce heat and bake at 375 degrees until soft, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Drain and rinse beans. Put beans and a bay leaf in a large pot; add water to cover by 3-4 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low; cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.

While the sweet potato and beans are cooking, coat a large casserole with a little olive oil and heat over medium. Add carrots, onions, chipotle, spices and herbs, season with salt and pepper and sauté until onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.

When sweet potato is cool enough to handle but still warm, cut in half, scoop out the flesh and add it to the veggies. Use a potato masher to smash the sweet potato; add 4 cups stock and the remaining bay leaf. Simmer on very low until beans are ready to add to the vegetables.

After beans have been cooking for about 45 minutes, drain and add them to the casserole. Cover and transfer chili to the oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Stir a few times and add more stock if necessary. Cook chili for about 45 minutes.

Put sour cream in a bowl. A little at a time, whisk about 2 cups of chili into the sour cream. Stir sour cream mixture into the chili, add more stock if necessary and return chili to the oven for 15-30 minutes.

Serve chili with brown rice garnished with grated cheddar cheese. 

Quinoa and Black Bean Pilaf  

Serves 4

About 1/3 lb. dried black beans (or 2-3 c. cooked)
1 bay leaf
Olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1-2 carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. vegetable or chicken stock or broth
1 c. quinoa
12 oz. mushrooms, sliced
12 oz. baby kale
1/4 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
2-3 T. fresh, chopped parsley

Rinse beans, put them in a bowl, add water to cover by about 4 inches and soak overnight.

Drain and rinse beans. Put beans and a bay leaf in large pot; add water to cover by 3-4 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, cover and simmer until tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

When beans are just about ready, lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the onion, carrot and celery, season with thyme, salt and pepper and sauté until the vegetables are tender. Stir in garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes more.

Drain beans. Add beans and stock to the skillet, cover and keep warm while you cook the quinoa and mushrooms.

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium-high; add mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned.

Add 1-2 T. butter to the black beans, and stir to combine. Add quinoa and mushrooms and toss to combine. Raise heat to medium-high. Add kale, a handful at a time, and toss to combine. Continue cooking and tossing until kale has wilted, 2-3 minutes.

Add walnuts and parsley, toss one last time, and serve.

Susan Nye writes for magazines throughout New England. She shares many of her favorite recipes and stories about food, family and friendship on her award-winning blog, Around the Table, at

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