Vail Colorful Cooking column: Time to picnic |

Vail Colorful Cooking column: Time to picnic

Tracy Miller
VAIL CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Tracy MillerA simple sandwich can be spiced up with a healthy spread.

It’s picnic time in the high country. Whether your camping, biking, hiking or rafting, picnic food is probably stuffed in your pack. Sandwiches are one of my favorite “to go” items since they are filling, easy and most people like them. If you are looking for a healthy sandwich, the condiment you choose can make or break it. A simple sandwich can be spiced up with a healthy spread.

The right spread can transform your sandwich from plain and dull to fresh and tasty! One of my favorites is an edamame walnut spread that includes soybeans, walnuts, garlic and healthy walnut oil. This spread can stand alone on a hearty bread or be paired with deli meat, cheese and veggies. Edamame, also known as soybeans have twice the protein of other legumes and are high in iron, B vitamins and folic acid. Their nutty, clean flavor blends wells with walnuts and garlic to make a great start for a sandwich.

Walnuts are heart healthy and eating walnuts or walnut oil has been shown to lower total cholesterol. According to the Food and Drug Administration, “supportive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces per day of walnuts, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” Pairing the walnut oil with edamame allows the natural nut flavors to reign and gives this spread a hearty texture that is full of protein.

Black beans are another hearty start for a Caribbean style spread that is low in fat and high in fiber and protein. A one cup serving has almost 15 grams each of protein and fiber. Black beans are great for digestion and the high protein-fiber combination helps balance and regulate blood sugar.

Beans can take a long time to prepare if start with the dried variety. I like the convenience of canned beans. The canned options are still full of nutrients. When purchasing canned beans, choose a low-sodium version packaged without BPA. Rinsing canned beans under cold water reduces their sodium by almost half. Another great way to get black beans into your diet is to mix them with ground beef and taco seasoning on taco night.

Adding a fresh spread will jazz up an ordinary sandwich with flavor, nutrition and very little extra fat.

Edamame walnut spread

2 cups edamame beans, cooked and shelled

1/3 cup walnuts

1/4 to 1/2 cup walnut oil (or olive oil)

1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper

2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 cup shallot

1/2 teaspoon garlic (optional)

Caribbean spread

1/2 cup black beans

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro

1 Tablespoons whole grain mustard

1 orange (1 teaspoon orange juice and zest of half the orange)

For each spread, use a blender or food processor to blend all ingredients until smooth. Use as a spread on sandwiches or as a dip served with crackers and fresh vegetables.

Tracy Miller shares her recipes on TV8’s Good Morning Vail every Wednesday at 8 a.m., teaches cooking classes at Colorado Mountain College and hosts private cooking parties. Learn more at

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