3 delicious transformations

Finding new ways to reinvent and reuse leftover ingredients to create simple and delicious meals is a perfect way to save time while still eating healthy during the busy back-to-school season. Less time, with less mess, means less stress!

Chicken Fajita and White Bean Soup

Fajita inspired, colorful, and full of flavor, this soup quickly turns leftover chicken into a nourishing and hearty meal. Pair with a fresh crusty loaf of bread.

1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin

1/4 tsp (1 mL) dried oregano

1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground coriander

1/4 tsp (1 mL) paprika

4 cups (1 L) chicken broth

4 cups (1 L) canned cannellini beans, rinsed well, divided

2 cups (500 mL) cooked chicken breast, shredded or diced

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 avocado, skin and pit removed, diced

In large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium and saute onion until translucent. Add garlic and saute a further minute before adding bell peppers. Saute all until peppers are soft but colors remain vibrant.

Remove 1 cup (250 mL) bell pepper and onion mixture from soup pot and set aside. Add cumin, oregano, coriander, and paprika, and stir well before adding broth and 2 cups (500 mL) beans.

With immersion blender, blend mixture in soup pot until smooth. Alternatively, ladle soup pot contents into blender; blend until smooth and return to soup pot. Add chicken, remaining 2 cups (500 mL) beans, and reserved bell pepper and onion mixture, and bring to a slow boil on medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste and ladle into serving bowls. Top with diced avocado.

Serves 6

Each serving contains: 419 calories; 43 g protein; 13 g total fat (3 g sat. fat); 34 g total carbohydrates (3 g sugars, 18 g fiber); 594 mg sodium

Lentil and Shiitake Mushroom Potato Bake

A plant-based spinoff of shepherd’s pie makes an ideal use for those surplus starches. It’s a satisfying comfort meal packed with nutrition and perfect for any cool-weather dinner.

3 Tbsp (45 mL) flour

3 1/2 cups + 3 Tbsp (850 mL + 45 mL) mushroom broth

1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

1 large white onion, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

3/4 cup (180 mL) finely diced celery (about 1 large stalk)

4 cups (1 L) diced shiitake mushrooms (approximately 8 large mushrooms)

1 Tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped rosemary

3 cups (750 mL) cooked black beluga lentils

Salt and pepper, to taste

5 cups (1.25 L) mashed potatoes

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

In small bowl, make a slurry by whisking 3 Tbsp (45 mL) flour into 3 Tbsp (45 mL) mushroom broth. Set aside.

In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium and saute onion until translucent. Add garlic, celery, mushrooms, rosemary, and 1/2 cup (125 mL) mushroom broth, and continue sauteing until mushrooms and celery are soft. Add lentils and 3 cups (850 mL) broth to mushroom mixture and bring to a simmering boil.

While stirring continuously, slowly add slurry to lentil mixture and return to a simmering boil; allow mixture to thicken and reduce. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Transfer lentil and mushroom mixture to 9 x 13 in (23 x 33 cm) casserole dish and top evenly with a layer of mashed potatoes.

Place casserole dish in preheated oven with large baking sheet on the oven rack below it; bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes.

Serves 8

Each serving contains: 231 calories; 9 g protein; 4 g total fat (1 g sat. fat); 41 g total carbohydrates (2 g sugars, 5 g fiber); 355 mg sodium

Mediterranean Veggie Frittata with Basil Goat Cheese

A bounty of grilled vegetables melds Mediterranean flavors with creamy goat cheese in a simple and tasty egg dish. Pair with a green salad.

4 tsp (20 mL) dried basil

3/4 cup (180 mL) goat cheese

1 Tbsp (15 mL) avocado oil

2 cups (500 mL) mix of bite-sized grilled zucchini, red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, and red onion

8 large eggs

1/3 cup (80 mL) unsweetened, unflavored cashew milk, or whole milk

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).

In small bowl, toss basil and goat cheese together and set aside.

In deep 9 in (13 cm) cast iron or ovenproof skillet, heat avocado oil over medium, coating bottom and sides. Add vegetables, then lightly saute until warmed through and colors remain vibrant. In skillet base, spread vegetables around, spacing evenly, before adding egg mixture.

While vegetables are warming up, in medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt, and pepper together. Pour egg mixture slowly into skillet and cook on stovetop, without stirring, for 3 minutes.

To top of cooking egg mixture, add goat cheese evenly. Carefully remove skillet from stovetop and place in oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until eggs are set in the middle and top is beginning to brown. With an oven mitt, remove skillet from oven, loosen edges of frittata with spatula, divide, and serve!

Serves 6

Each serving contains: 196 calories; 15 g protein; 14 g total fat (7 g sat. fat); 4 g total carbohydrates (3 g sugars, 1 g fiber); 306 mg sodium

By Susan Rossit, RHN