Stewed Summer Veggies

Stewed garden vegetables with white beans. Great for curling up with a good book and a blanket on a rainy day.

I’m packing up my suitcase (or three) for a tropical island vacation south of Tampa, but it looks like the most tropical thing about the trip may be Tropical Storm Debby. Our family that’s already there spent last night without water or power and hasn’t seen the sun in days. Much of the island is covered in water. Getting three suitcases, a diaper bag, groceries, and a one-year old onto the ferry (no cars on this island) and down the 1/4 mile rocky path to the condos without Jared, who will be joining us two days later, is going to be harder than I expected if this doesn’t clear up soon.

I had a menu in mind for the week, including lots of fresh, crisp fruits and veggies to cool us down as we came in from the hot sandy beach. But, this summer stew might be a better fit if it turns out to be a rainy vacation. Actually, curling up on the lanai (that’s a fancy word Floridians use for a screened in porch) with a good book and a bowl of these warm summer veggies, while the rain falls around me and and waves crash against the shell-lined beach, sounds like paradise to me.

Fresh potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and squash from our uncle’s garden were the base of this savory satisfying stew, finished off with white beans for a mild-flavored protein, and kale of course. No dish is complete without it! Smoked paprika, one of my favorite spices to add depth of flavor to beans and vegetables, makes it taste almost like it was cooked with a hunk of ham.

Rain or shine, cool salads or warm stews, I’ll be enjoying our little tropical paradise very soon. And I’ll finally be reuniting with my husband when he gets done with his week long out of state baseball tournament…just in time to celebrate our anniversary on the same island where we said “I Do” five years ago!

Rachel’s Stewed Summer Veggies

Serves 3-4


~1 T. extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
1 large onion, diced
4 small potatoes, chopped into bite size chunks
1 yellow squash (or zucchini)
3 cups of tomatoes (I used a combo of whole cherry tomatoes & chopped larger tomatoes)
1 T. white wine vinegar
3 stalks of kale, torn off the rib and into pieces
1 cup of water or veggie broth
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
salt & pepper
seasoning salt
smoked paprika


Pour evoo into a large tall-sided skillet or sauce pan and heat on medium heat. Add onions & a dash of salt and saute for about five minutes. Add potatoes, squash, tomatoes, water or broth, and vinegar. Reduce heat to med-low, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in kale and gently mash the tomatoes so they release their juices. If it needs more liquid, you can add another cup of water or broth. Gently stir in the beans and season to taste with seasoning salt (like Lawry’s or Tony’s), smoked paprika (use just a pinch for a nice smokey flavor) and a little salt and pepper if it needs it.

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White Bean Guacamole Dip

White Bean Guacamole

Lower fat, higher protein, and less expensive guacamole that tastes just as good (if not better) than the original.

On Thursday, Jackson and I flew out to Denver to spend the weekend at my mom and Greg’s house. A typical trip to mom’s is never short on activity and this weekend was no exception. In our quick four day visit, we drove to the mountains for a barbeque at my brother and his wife’s new place, went to a nephew’s t-ball game, and hosted a girls night/baby shower for a sweet friend (due any day)! I love packing in as much as I can into a trip. It’s the packing and traveling part that I don’t love so much, especially with this little guy in my suitcase…literally.

Packing is exhausting!

As my mom mentioned in her post yesterday, Jackson is the busiest little baby you ever did see, into everything and always on the go. So sitting with him on my lap for the 3 1/2 hour plane ride home just about wore me out. Trying to keep him off the floor and out of my seatmates’ laps was like trying to hang onto a block of jello wiggling through my fingertips and bouncing out of my hands.

Getting there and back is no easy task, but we make it all worth while by fitting in as much as we can while we are there. That’s how I feel about cooking sometimes too. If I’m going to go to the trouble of messing up my kitchen, I want to get as much out of it as possible. I double a recipe and freeze half or splurge on the best ingredients for maximum taste, or sneak in some extra nutrition when I can.

Guacamole is a pretty healthy snack, it’s full of good fats and fiber, but it doesn’t have any protein and those good fats are still fats, so moderation is key. You have to be like super human to only eat a moderate amount of guacamole though, right? So I like to add a secret ingredient to my guac…white beans. You don’t even know they are in there, but per bite, they increase the protein and lower the fat and calories. Seriously, you have to try this. If you are going to make guacamole, you might as well get as much of a nutritional punch out of it as you can. Also, try replacing the chips with rice crackers to health it up even more.

White Bean Guacamole Dip

White Bean Guacamole Dip

Serves up to 8 small servings


1 15oz can of white beans (Great Northern, Cannellini, or Navy), drained with 1 T. liquid reserved
2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 T. lime juice
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 t. garlic powder
1 c. cilantro (if you like it)


In a food processor, blend beans and 1 T. reserved liquid until beans are pureed. Scoop the avocado flesh and chopped peppers into the food processor and pulse a few times. Add the lime juice, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cilantro. Pulse until the desired consistency (I like a little bit of texture and a few chunks of avocado in mine.)

Serve with crackers or chips. I really like these Brown Rice & Flax crackers from Wal-Mart even better than chips with this dip. They’re not only much lower in fat, but they hold up better to the thick dip and I just think they taste delicious.

Brown Rice & Flax Crackers

Just 2.5 grams of fat in 16 crackers, compared to 6.5 grams in tortilla chips.

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