Quick and Easy Recipe: Warm Green Bean, Pomegranate and Sweet Potato Salad {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

I received free samples of Libby’s new Vegetable Pouches mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Libby’s and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

With the cooler weather, I’m craving all kinds of fall- and Thanksgiving-themed foods. But who has the time to cook all the squash, potatoes, beans and turkey? Not this girl.

I’m all about the quick, simple meal using quality ingredients — and culinary shortcuts — to yield tasty, good-for-you dishes. So when the folks at Libby’s Fruits & Vegetables challenged us to create delicious appetizers, soups, salads or side dishes in 10 minutes or less using Libby’s Vegetable Pouches as the hero ingredient, I was ready to get cooking.

warm_thanksgiving_salad

Libby’s Vegetable Pouches are pretty snazzy little things. They’re microwaveable (DONE IN ONE MINUTE!), which means fewer dishes for moi to clean (this whole not having a dishwasher thing is really getting old). Libby’s is the first to offer ready-to-heat vegetables in pouches. I don’t have to feel bad about throwing the package away, either — I’m a hippie like that — because pouches use 75% less energy annnddd waste is easily compressed, reducing space in home disposal and landfills. An added bonus is that the pouches are made with BPA non-intent materials.

Tip: the pouches will be available nation-wide come the new year and can currently be found in select Walmart stores.

green_bean_pomegranate_sweet_potato

But none of the aforementioned perks matter if it’s not tasty, right? Lucky for me (and you all), Libby’s Vegetable Pouches are delicious and come in five popular varieties – sliced carrots, sweet peas, cut green beans, mixed vegetables and sweet corn.

I chose the cut green bean variety as the star of my warm green bean, pomegranate and sweet potato salad.warm_thanksgiving_vegetable_salad

This salad is a GAME ˆ CHANGER. It would be a welcome addition to any Thanksgiving table and it takes LESS THAN TEN MINUTES TO MAKE! Not to mention it is no-bake (a microwave is the only cooking vessel you need), since oven space is quite precious on Thanksgiving. Plus, with “exotic” sounding ingredients like pomegranate, rosemary and cinnamon pecans, you’ll appear to be the best, most knowledgable chef around.

Recipe: Warm Green Bean, Pomegranate and Sweet Potato Salad

Enjoy this while it’s still warm, or refrigerate and eat cold. This would be delicious served alongside chicken or turkey — or eat it by itself! It’s really that good. If you don’t have pomegranates around, you can swap them for dried cranberries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 pouch Libby’s Cut Green Beans
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils (seeds), or the seeds from one medium pomegranate (use the pre-seeded version to save time — I find them frozen at Costco or fresh at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 1 tsp. butter, preferably grass-fed
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey (look for an ethically harvested variety — find out more about the honey/bee issue here)
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

ingredients_warm_green_bean_salad

Directions:

  1. Poke holes in sweet potato using a fork. Microwave sweet potato for 2-3 minutes. Flip sweet potato over and microwave for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until it feels soft.
  2. While the sweet potato cooking, melt butter in a small skillet, add pecans and cinnamon and stir for 2-3 minutes to toast.
  3. Prepare pomegranate. The best way to do this is to roll the pomegranate on the counter before cutting it — you should feel and hear the seeds loosening up. Then, inside a metal or glass bowl (the juice could stain a plastic bowl) cut the pomegranate into quarters and dig out the seeds. Or, use pre-prepared pomegranate seeds to save some time.
  4. When sweet potato is done in the microwave, swap it out for the Libby’s Cut Green Bean Pouch and cook according to package instructions.
  5. While the green beans are cooking, cut the sweet potato into small cubes.
  6. Drain heated green beans and add to a large bowl along with remaining ingredients (including toasted pecans). Toss and serve warm.

green_bean_pomegranate_sweet_potato_salad

Voila! Enjoy this super-easy, amazingly delicious salad!

 

My Top Five Herbs and Spices

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices add flavor, color and health benefits (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc.) to foods – not to mention that they can take the place of salt and excess oil in a recipe (which many of us are trying to cut back on). And since I love to cook, I am always trying different combinations of seasoning to see what goes with what. For someone who doesn’t love cooking quite so much, or who’s new to cooking, the many herbs and spices available can be overwhelming.

Recently, a friend of mine asked me what herbs and spices I would choose if I could only use five. It definitely took some thinking, but below are my top five herbs and spices (excluding salt and pepper), along with cooking suggestions and health benefits:

  1. Cinnamon: great in yogurt, sprinkled on toast with peanut or almond butter (and bananas), on sweet potatoes (think Thanksgiving) or mixed into yogurt. Cinnamon can help improve (lower) blood sugar levels because it acts similarly to insulin in our bodies. Cinnamon may also decrease risk for metabolic syndrome as it has been shown to improve blood sugar, BMI (body mass index) and blood pressure. Cinnamon
  2. Lemon Pepper: love it in marinades, sprinkled on chicken or fish and/or on most vegetables. It goes especially well with broccoli, green beans and sauteed greens. Black pepper may improve digestion and decrease inflammation along the digestive tract. Lemons contain vitamin C as well as antioxidants. Lemon Pepper
  3. Red Pepper Flakes: sprinkle on top of veggies, in Mexican foods, over proteins (chicken, fish, beef, tofu), over potatoes or mix into sauces and soups/chilis. Red pepper may help the body burn additional calories after eating and may also promote satiety (a full feeling). Red Pepper Flakes
  4. Cumin: use in Mexican and Mediterranean cuisines. Think tacos (sprinkle some in ground beef or turkey), salsas, hummus and over roasted vegetables (eggplant, sweet potatoes, carrots, peppers) and beans/lentils. I also love it sprinkled on top of chicken (before cooking) or using it in a marinade. Cumin has benefits that may help improve digestion, respiratory issues and rheumatoid arthritis. Cumin also has antibacterial, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Cumin
  5. Rosemary: adds an earthy, woody flavor. I love it on roasted potatoes (white, red, sweet), over chicken and pork, with carrots, in soup or sprinkled over a salad. Rosemary supports brain health and may reduce the risk of heart disease. It has antioxidant properties and can help decrease the potentially harmful oxidant properties of grilled meat. Rosemary

I immediately regret this decision. What about smoked paprika? Basil? Curry powder? Well, I guess that’s why the challenge was choosing just five.

 
What are your top five??