I’ve always been a sucker for a challenge. As a kid, when playing truth or dare, I was hungry for the double dare. When my pottery teacher told me there was no way I’d be making teapots by the end of our beginners' eight-week wheel class, I put in some extra studio time and walked out of there with a working (if not slightly clunky) teapot. So, when I was contacted by Bon Appetit to participate in a $10 Dinner Challenge in partnership with ALDI, it was the word “challenge” that reeled me in immediately.
My husband grew up in the Netherlands. ALDI was on his mother’s regular shopping circuit and during my time abroad, I made my first visit to the discount grocer. My initial impressions included large pallets of boxes and packaged foods, long lines of people, and my mother-in-law purchasing off brands of my husband’s favorites, much to his frustration. I’d heard that ALDI had evolved with great buys and quality foods but had never felt compelled to revisit.
We decided to walk up and down every aisle, looking for ideas and familiarizing ourselves with the store. Where we expected to find mostly processed foods, off brand staples and canned veggies, we were astounded to discover chia seeds, quinoa, fair trade coffee, organic coconut oil, organic milk (for $2.95 a half gallon!), and a decent selection of organic produce. The nature of my challenge shifted. It wasn’t going to be hard to make a $10 meal for four with healthy ingredients. The challenge was deciding which of all the ingredients to choose!
I landed on an idea to use sweet potatoes as a canvas for a heap of super foods creating “Super” Stuffed Sweet potatoes. Organic thick and chunky salsa was an easy base for my chili filling and it provides lycopene from the tomatoes. Using flavorful Italian turkey sausage cut 72 percent fat from the usual pork Italian sausage. Organic black beans are loaded with protein, fiber, and flavonoids.
Avocados offer healthy fats and help you absorb other nutrients. Instead topping each potato with a dollop of sour cream, I bought 0 percent fat Greek yogurt, which is protein-packed. The colorful sweet potatoes are high in vitamins and minerals, offering a daily dose of vitamin A. As for cilantro, it adds almost no calories and an unbelievable fresh aroma and flavor. All of these superhero ingredients came together to create my meal for four and cost only $8.97! (I totaled only the portion of the food I used to create the recipe.) I don’t think that I make any other meal that lands so squarely at the intersection of easy, inexpensive, satisfying and healthy.
The real test came when I served the Super Stuffed Sweet Potatoes to my two toughest critics. My girls don’t try to spare my feelings or choke down meals with a polite face. Right away, they commented on how colorful the dish was. After tasting it, I received the coveted two thumbs up.
“Super” Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
4 medium sweet potatoes
2 links sweet Italian turkey sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can organic black beans
1 jar organic salsa
1 organic avocado, sliced
1/2 cup Greek nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped for garnish
1. Wash the sweet potatoes and poke 5-6 fork holes through the skin around the potatoes. Bake the sweet potatoes in a 400-degree F. oven for about 45-50 minutes or until cooked through and tender. Alternately, you can microwave them for 7-8 minutes until done.
2. While potatoes are cooking, heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove the casing from sausage links and cook the sausage for 3-4 minutes, using a spatula to break up the meat into small pieces.
3. Drain and rinse the black beans and add them to the saucepan. Add the full jar of salsa to the pan. Stir and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
4. Split each of the cooked sweet potatoes down the center cutting just half way through the potato. Open the potato to make room for the fillings.
5. Top each potato with the turkey chili, ¼ of the avocado, a large dollop of Greek yogurt and cilantro.
Disclaimer: I received gift certificates from ALDI to buy ingredients but did not receive compensation for this post. All the opinions are my own.
Related post on Whipped, The Blog: Greek zucchini fritters