DINNER IMPROV: Spicy Mexican Inspired Pasta

Allow me to set the scene:

I have nearly recovered from a bad cold, then Ryan gets hit with it. There has just been a snow storm the night before, and the street still hasn’t been plowed. In the daytime, the sun shines on the snow and everything is so bright it nearly burns your corneas. At night, everything emits a pale glow. Everything’s quiet.

Working from home has it’s perks, as we were able to stay in pajamas all day long. (ALL DAY!) The bed was like a liferaft, and the only time I left it was to make some food in the afternoon. I wanted something filling (all that laying around and cat-petting makes you hungry, after all) but also full of lots of nutrient rich foods to aid in our flu-symptom recovery.

And I came up with this! Let’s break it down, nutritionally.

The TOMATOES have a ton of lycopene (one of the highest of all foods!), which is an awesome antioxidant. The CHIPOTLE PEPPERS have capsaicin (the thing that makes your mouth burn!) which is great for aiding digestion and helping to relieve pain. The super-amazing GARLIC can help your immune system, and has antibacterial and antiviral properties. The SWEET POTATOES have so much great stuff, not limited to fiber, protein, iron, calcium and lots of vitamins A and C. The BLACK BEANS have health-protecting isoflavones, fiber and protein. And the AVOCADO supplies healthy omega-3′s.

Okay, plus it was delicious, easy and inexpensive! Here’s what I did:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 box of whole wheat pasta (I used linguini)
  • 1/2 large red onion, sliced into half-moon pieces
  • 3 small sweet potatoes, skins removed and then cubed
  • 1 large 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 large chipotle pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano OR cilantro
  • 1/2 can black beans
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Boil water for the pasta. Preheat oven for 425 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, add the sweet potatos, red onion and enough olive oil to coat. Toss with salt and pepper. Add mixture to an oven tray and cover with aluminum foil. (The foil will trap the steam and cook the potatoes faster!)  When oven is ready, add the potato and onion tray. Cook the pasta til desired tenderness.

In a food processor, add the can of tomatoes, garlic, chipotle and oregano. Blend on high until garlic is mixed in. Add salt to taste.

After about 15 minutes, the potatoes should be soft. Take the tray out of the oven and test one to make sure! Add the potatoes and onion to a large mixing bowl.

To the mixing bowl, add the pasta and black beans. Mix everything together.

Add the tomato sauce. (I had a little sauce left over… use as much as you’d like!) The sauce won’t be very thick, but it will coat the pasta and veggies nicely and pack a lot of flavor!

Add sliced avocado to the top, add a little freshly cracked pepper.

This colorful, flavorful dish will hopefully lift your spirits if you’re feeling a little under the weather or have gone stir crazy from being unable to leave the house due to icy roads and ferocious winds.

Stay healthy and warm! And if you need some help in the “warm” department, consider getting a new addition to your family and adopting a pet! (*Pet adoption is a big deal and shouldn’t be done unless you’re sure you can properly care for it.)

But if pet adoption is something you’ve considered for a while, decide if you’re ready to be a cat or dog Mom/Dad and if you ARE, check out some of the cuties at your local shelter. Think about how nice it would feel to share a cozy bed with a furball that loves you unconditionally!

Go over to PetFinder.com to see who’s up for adoption in your area.

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