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Sardine Flatbread

Grocery stores are my favorite places to visit. Even when I travel to simply another place in the country, you can be sure I’ll hit up a g-store to see what is being eaten regionally by the locals. That’s how I discovered pickled green beans, in New Orleans and chocolate covered dried cherries in Traverse City! Every grocery store is a microcosm of what that area’s customer wants, so it’s a mini lesson in anthropology for me, and I find every trip to be a completely fascinating culinary adventure.

A couple years ago I visited Panama with my best friend, and the grocery stores were fabulous. Not only were there two different kinds of passion fruits, (my favorite fruit in the world, and super hard to get where I live and super expensive when I find them) a dozen different varieties of bananas, but the stores were set up in a completely unique way. Sometimes one product would be displayed on an entire shelf unit, so there’s be nothing but one kind of mayonnaise taking up a ton of space, and then the next brand of mayonnaise, etc. Visually it was very much like pop art, so I took a lot of pictures, despite the weird looks I got from fellow shoppers. I could have spent hours in those grocery stores, just looking at all the different foodstuffs they offered. I did get to take home a few bottles of aji chombo, a habanero hot sauce that was delicious, and some passion fruit flavored Kool-Aid, too. Why don’t they have that here? It was a great flavor!

Anyways, in my city the grocery stores can be pretty wonderful, especially the smaller, locally owned ones that cater to their immediate communities. For example, up the street is a store in a neighborhood with a large Russian and central European population, so the food there can be very interesting: lots of cherry products, exotic mineral waters, sausages, and shelf upon shelf of dozens of different tinned sardines and sprats. Which, of course, I had to try. I picked the prettiest can of sardines on the shelf to take home and make something with. Flatbread came to mind, of course!

And in case you’re like me and have no idea what a sprat is, it’s another kind of fish, similar to the herring, and it’s often passed off as sardines when canned. Regardless, sardines (and sprats) are high in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and vitamin D, and are overlooked sources of deliciousness. This flatbread recipe uses sardines (or smoked sardines, if you prefer, for even more flavor) topped with onion, peppers, and arugula. I can see why these little canned beauties are so popular: after making this, there will always be a can of sardines in the house.

Step outside of the box, and try a sardine flatbread this week, you’ll be happy you did.

-Amy at Flatout

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Grilled Cheesy Bean Burrito

For the busy athlete, it may be tempting to run through the drive-thru to quickly re-fuel, yet many times fast food may be lacking the nutrients you need to perform at your best. For the athlete with diabetes, it’s essential to consume both protein and carbohydrate after a workout. This combination not only replenishes energy stores that were burned up during exercise, but also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels to prevent crashes or spikes later in the day. This Grilled Cheesy Bean Burrito is the perfect solution since it can be made in advance, eaten on the go, and is packed full of the carbs and protein you need to refuel your muscles while promoting healthy blood sugar levels. By swapping a standard tortilla rich in simple carbohydrates with a fiber rich, higher protein Flatout Flatbread, you can enjoy the taste you love while boosting your nutrition and stabilizing blood sugar levels.

I consider myself fortunate that my parents didn’t raise me with a lot of fast food around. But I also realize that part of that reason was because there weren’t nearly as many options for fast food as there are now. Both my parents worked and were really busy, so it would have been a reasonable option, I suppose, if there were as many ultra-cheap fast food choices back then as there today. Mostly my mom or dad cooked, thankfully, and fast food was reserved for occasional road trips or very special occasions.

We did, however, have TV dinners. They were considered a very high-tech convenience. And how I hated them! Indistinguishable from the next, they were served hot from the oven in sectioned off foil trays, each compartment holding some kind of gross, mushy brown thing. Even dessert was mushy and brown. Everything in the tray had sort of a chemical aftertaste, too. What they lacked in taste and charm, they made up for in convenience, I suppose, but still, I’m happy those days are over.

It wasn’t until college that I tasted my first fast food style bean burrito. You could have one for 69 cents, well under a dollar, so many late night dinners were made up of bean burritos. Turns out I could have done a lot worse; I was still leery of “processed meat” from the TV dinners, and I was trying to be a vegetarian, so the lowly bean was good enough for me.

Indeed, beans are a smart choice for most people, and are excellent sources of protein and fiber.

This flatbread recipe harkens back to the good old college days where, like so many students, I was broke as a joke and hungry all the time. And they’re just as handy now when I don’t feel like running to the store and shopping, or when my monthly budget is tight. Beans are an inexpensive and healthy choice, depending on how they’re prepared. The beauty of this recipe is in the chopped white onions sprinkled in the burrito. It’s simple, quick, and immensely delicious, to boot. Just grab your flatbread, your hot sauce, and some fat-free refried beans and you’re almost there! There’s no need to run out to grab a bag of fast food, you can make a delicious inexpensive meal at home.

Vivà the bean!

-Amy at Flatout

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