Warm up winter with one-pot meals

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Portia Little

Budget Kitchen by Portia Little

Eat much over the holidays? If you’re like many folks, perhaps you overindulged on hi-cal, sugary, buttery foods. So now it’s time to settle down to more healthful eating with some delicious hot soups and stews that contain lots of – yes, fiber.

Most of us realize the benefits of a diet rich in dietary fiber – including improvements in gastrointestinal health, lowering cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugar levels and aiding in achieving healthy weight. Thankfully, increasing the fiber content of your diet doesn’t mean you have to gnaw on cardboard all day.

Let your slow cooker do the cooking of a chicken soup that’s full of tomatoes, carrots, cannelloni and black beans. Or create a white bean soup that’s enhanced with kale and smoked Spanish chorizo. Of course, one-pot dishes save time and energy and warm you up on a chilly evening.  A ragout — a thick, well-seasoned stew — is delicious made with kale for a sweet, earthy flavor. Here are some recipes for warm and healthy meals.

Slow Cooker Chicken, Tomato & Bean Soup

1-1/2 pounds boneless chicken (breasts or thighs)

2 quarts chicken broth

1 small onion

4 garlic cloves, crushed

3 bay leaves

1 cup mini carrots

1 (14.5 ounce) can cannelloni beans

1 cup black beans

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (14.5 ounce) can of mixed vegetables or an equal amount of frozen vegetables

Salt and pepper to taste

Place first six ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on high for two to three hours until chicken is cooked through. Add remaining ingredients and cook on high for one hour or until all ingredients are heated through. Makes four servings.

White Bean and Sausage Ragout with Tomatoes, Kale and Zucchini

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 (4-ounce) links chicken sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/2-inch slices (about 2 cups)

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

6 cups chopped trimmed kale (about 1/2 pound)

1/2 cup water

2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, do not drain

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; sauté onion and sausage four minutes or until sausage is browned; add zucchini and garlic; cook two minutes; add kale and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately. Makes four servings.

White Bean Soup with Kale and Chorizo

2 ounces Spanish chorizo sausage, finely chopped

1 cup chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

4 cups chopped kale

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cracked black pepper (optional)

Heat large saucepan over medium-high heat; add chorizo to pan; sauté one minute; add onion and garlic to pan; sauté five minutes or until tender. While onions cook, pour broth into microwave-safe bowl; microwave at high for three minutes; add hot broth and beans to pan; bring to a boil. Partially mash beans with potato masher. Stir in kale and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; cook over medium heat six minutes. Sprinkle with cracked pepper, if desired. Makes four servings. (Note: be sure to use smoked Spanish chorizo in this recipe, not raw chorizo.)

Portia Little is the author of six cookbooks. You can contact her at panntree@msn.com.

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