Two Bean and Queso Capas

What hidden treasure hides in these layers, you say?
Why, it’s omega-3 fatty acid, my friend–DHA. ❤️

With cold weather ❄️ upon us, my husband training for a marathon on the Blue Ridge Parkway 🏞, and me going through recovery 🤕… We.Are.Hungry! And instead of making the traditional pan of enchiladas, I decided I’d make layers of warm gooeyness, full of protein, omega-3 DHA, and flavor! 😋

I have the need, the need… for cheese! 🧀

For the queso, I did cheat a little bit. The local grocery store carries a plant-based 🌱 tub of queso made of whole ingredients. If cheating makes you uncomfortable or you’re being a little judgy, then skip ahead to the full, no-cheat recipe below 😉. *My stance on cheating.* The ingredients are very similar to a cheese sauce I’ve made the full recipe in the past, but tonight, to save a little time, I used “the cheat” as the base and added what was missing to complete it. The cheese sauce recipe is good for mac n’ cheese 🥣, veggies 🥦, sandwiches 🥪, or whatever you want to drizzle a guilt-free no-cheese 🧀🍔🌮🌯 on.

I made the mistake of not counting out my tortillas before-hand 😣… You’re gonna want at least twelve. I had to sub in some toasted whole wheat pitas split into quarters to cover the top. 👍🏻

A special ingredient I’m hiding in the mix is a seaweed salad 🌿 I picked up from the sushi bar. It’s full of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is necessary to support brain development 🧠 and function, as well as eye health 👁. The body only makes a small percentage from ALA, another important omega-3 fatty acid that is found in plants 🌱 such as chia, flax, hemp, and walnuts, so you have to consume DHA to get appropriate amounts. Part of our human ancestral diet was influenced by living near the water 🌅 where we began consuming sea animals and plants. Discover Magazine: Dining on Seafood and Brain Development And this aided in our development 💪. Psychology Today: Was Seafood Brain Food? The health benefits of DHA are many, including heart health💓, brain cognition, reduced inflammation, and MORE. Healthline: Benefits of DHA

DHA: Deal or No Deal?

Some people supplement with DHA oil or find it in powdered nutrition boosts in their smoothies. I occasionally consume seaweed 🌿 in my meals or fish 🐟 when I’m visiting the coast, and I drink it in my smoothie every morning via a whole food, plant-based, cold processed, powdered multivitamin (that’s a mouthful! 😜) that contains a slew of other healthy ingredients. As always, it is up to you to be your own health advocate. Do your research and make the most informed decision you can to the best of your abilities. 🙏🏻💛

Fewer ingredients with the cheat, but trust me, the full no-cheat version is worth it. If you can get your hands on a healthy store-bought version, I don’t judge. When extra busy, these healthy helpers can be a save in the kitchen. 💛

Queso or No-cheese Sauce Full Recipe (no cheat version 😉):
3 gold potatoes
1/3 red bell pepper
4 baby carrots
1/2 a small yellow onion
1/2 cup raw cashews
3 garlic cloves, roasted or 1 Tsp garlic powder
1 Tsp lemon juice
1 Tsp miso paste
1/2 Tsp Dijon or brown mustard
1/2 Tsp smoked paprika
1/2-1 Tsp salt (your preference)
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 Tsp apple cider vinegar
1/8-1/4 Tsp turmeric (your preference)
reserve the water from boiling

Recipe:
Place all veggies and cashews in a medium sauce pan, cover with water 1 inch over, and boil until carrots and potatoes are soft. To a blender with a slotted spoon, add your veggies and the rest of the ingredients, reserving the veggie water. As you blend, add a splash of the water until you get the right consistency, a thick, creamy sauce. Add salt to your preference if needed.

The mushrooms got left out of the picture! I forgot to make room for my shroom. 🍄

Two Bean and Queso Capas for Four:
1/4 cup rice, cooked acc to instr with veggie broth (I use Halo brand for DHA benefits)
can of black beans, mostly drained
can of dark kidney beans, mostly drained
small yellow onion, diced
1 jalepeno, seeded if necessary, chopped
1 Anaheim green chili pepper, chopped
8 oz diced tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tsp coriander
1 Tsp oregano
3 oz tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms
3-4 oz of kale, chopped
4 oz seaweed salad, optional for DHA benefits
fresh cilantro for garnish
salt and pepper
12 corn tortillas
1 avocado (mashed with 1 Tbs vegenaise, a Tsp of lime or lemon juice if you have it, a tiny splash of broth until you get a thick sauce consistency, and salt and pepper to your liking
your homemade queso

Sometimes, you gotta be flexible to make things work in the kitchen. Sometimes, flexibility allows us to see outside the problem 🖼, where the solution can be found. Get creative! 🎨

Recipe:
Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Cook the rice acc to instr. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté your onion for 3 min with salt and pepper, aprx 1/8 Tsp. Add your peppers and mushrooms and cook for another 2 min. Add your garlic, herbs and spices and cook for a min. Add the beans, kale, tomato sauce, 3 oz of broth or water, and aprx 1/8 Tsp salt and pepper, cooking until kale is softened and ingredients are well incorporated. Turn off heat and add seaweed and cooked rice, mixing thoroughly. In a large baking pan, 9×12, begin your layers, starting with the mixture, then queso, then 3 tortillas… mixture, queso, tortillas… ending with the last 3 tortillas on top. Bake for 20 min. Remove from oven, top with queso, guacamole (avocado sauce), and fresh chopped cilantro.

Let there be layers!

Even with the couple blunders I made (forgetting to save three tortillas for the top, adding the mushrooms in late), the flavors pulled off a nice, warm, cheese-saucy comfort food. If you’re not a fan of the seaweed flavor that can sometimes accompany with a little brackish taste, this dish hides that really well. There are other ways of incorporating DHA into your diet. Try to do as much whole food as you can, but in the end, making strides in your health journey may look different from someone else. Your journey is what matters. 🛤

Enjoy your art and may you live well!

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