Sunday, February 25, 2018

McClellan: Power foods to power into the new year

By Barbara McClellan
Jan. 11, 2017 at 1:42 p.m.

Barbara McClellan

You are going to hate hearing it again, but you know it's true: what we eat influences how we feel. What better time is there to look at our eating habits than at the beginning of the year?

I have read more recently about how "power foods" give us a nutritional edge, and I have become a believer. So what are these so-called "power foods?" Just about every article I read lists different ones, but I keep seeing these over and over: yogurt, fruits, berries, nuts, dark leafy greens, beans and legumes.

I know it is easy to talk a good game, but playing it is sometimes another matter. Sometimes, too, I believe we think we are eating the right way, but we simply do not always have all the facts straight. For example, just because something is labeled reduced sugar or reduced fat does not automatically mean the item is nutritious or low in calories. It also does not mean that we can have twice as many cookies or chips because they have the above labeling on them.

Several people have told me they do not have time to prepare nutritious meals, and I can understand that. Others say it is too expensive to buy various items that they feel are more healthful in their diet.

First of all, you are fortunate if you like fruits, vegetables and grains. I know we have heard a great amount recently about low-carb diets, but even in those plans some amount of vegetables, fruits and grains are included. I cannot imagine living without lots of fruits and vegetables. We are fortunate that we can get almost all fruits and vegetables year round. When we cannot get them fresh or do not have time to deal with them, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables offer a viable option for packing the nutrients.

I am going to share a really easy soup recipe with you today that I believe is chock-full of nutrients, and best of all, it is easy to make. The hardest thing is opening the cans of the various beans. I started with a recipe from a magazine, but I do not think you would recognize the original recipe by the time I got through with it. I doubled the recipe (so that I could freeze little containers to pull out to take to school for lunch or for supper when cooking just seemed like an unreasonable thing to do), but I am only giving you the amounts for one recipe.

Quick Green Chili Soup

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 28-ounce can chopped or diced tomatoes with juice

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or chicken bouillon base

  • 1 can each of the following: black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, Navy beans

  • 1 15-ounce can enchilada sauce, New Mexico-style green chili

  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese

  • Tortilla chips

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in 4-5 quart pot until tender. Add tomatoes, with juice, and simmer with onion and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, using all juices from beans. Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

The original recipe said to add salt and pepper to taste, but I did not think it needed any. I served this in bowls with about 1 tablespoon grated cheese on top, and tortilla chips on the side. The recipe makes about 6-8 servings.

— Barbara Richardson McClellan is a longtime food columnist and has written three self-published cookbooks. Her column appears in the News-Journal's Taste section each Wednesday. Write her at or in the care of the Longview News-Journal, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.



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