Weeknight Shorts: Healthy Holidays

It's almost here! When you have holiday shopping to finish, Christmas cookies to bake, party menus to plan, and trips to relatives to schedule, you might think the only way to get dinner on the table is to call for delivery or rely on boxed mixes that are loaded with fat, calories, and salt. But if you've got a half an hour, you can get this healthy, delicious dinner on the table:

In addition to being generally amazing, it's also gluten free and vegetarian. If you wanted to serve corn tortillas, tortilla chips, or maybe cornbread biscuits with it, it would be a fantastic meal in a bowl. The simple avocado cream can also be assembled by putting the avocados and yogurt into a resealable plastic bag and pressing the contents until a fairly homogenous mixture forms. This is a great job for little kitchen helpers. My daughter gets a little sad if I don't have a job like this one for her every few weeks. And she's really good at it!

If you wanted to save even more time, you could prep a bunch of this in advance. I've even been known to grab my 10-cup measuring bowl with lid and layer in things I'll need for this dish. I start by tossing the corn and black beans into the bottom, after draining and rinsing the black beans. (I don't bother with the tomatoes first because I just open my can of them and add the whole thing when I'm cooking.) Then I carefully lay a sheet of plastic wrap over that so that the ends reach over the edges of the bowl. I place the onion, garlic, and peppers on that and fold the edges down over them so they make a parcel that fills that layer. Then I add the sweet potatoes on top of that and put the lid on the bowl. The whole thing goes in the refrigerator and gets taken out when it's time to cook. You'll only need your oil, seasonings, can of tomatoes, and your avocado cream ingredients to assemble when it is time to cook. Isn't it nice to have everything in order?

As mentioned earlier, there's not much needed to make this dish a meal and it can certainly stand on its own. That said, I like adding tortilla chips and my favorite salsa. I might even crack open a beer because it's just so nice to have dinner on the table in a half hour during a time of the year when it's sometimes a challenge to remember which way you're going at any given time. Cheers and Merry Christmas!

Tex-Mex Sweet Tater Skillet

  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T. canola oil
  • 2 large bell peppers, diced
  • 14 oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (I like to use fire-roasted)
  • 1 T. cumin, divided
  • 1/2 T. taco seasoning, divided
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • Lime juice, to taste
  • 1 cup (4 oz) Tex Mex cheese, shredded
  • 2 medium avocados, diced
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt

Preheat a large, deep skillet on medium heat and add the canola oil. Add the sweet potatoes, 1/2 tablespoon of the cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion, garlic, and bell peppers (choose colorful ones for a bright dish); cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the black beans and corn; cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the diced tomatoes, remaining cumin and salt, black pepper, and taco seasoning; stir. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook covered for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Squeeze lime juice on top and sprinkle with the cheese and broil on high for 5 minutes or until cheese turns golden. Using a spoon, stir and mash the avocados and Greek yogurt together to make a creamy topping to serve with your dinner.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes