During the recent spring holidays, I decided to make one of my family’s favorite dishes, a traditional green bean casserole. We like the kind with the canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup/milk mixture, and crispy French friend onions on top. My kids have always loved GBC, and if a dish contains a green vegetable and is agreeable to their finicky palates, it would seem like a winner in my book.

The Green Bean Casserole. Stick to all natural ingredients. Stay away from soy/GMO’s.

I gathered all the usual ingredients and started putting the old favorite together. I am a big label-checker, so, out of habit, I turned the cream of mushroom soup label around for a quick scan of the ingredients.  I already knew the list wouldn’t be gluten-free and hand some less-than-favorable ingredients, but I was willing to make the sacrifice to stick with tradition.  However, when I really took a closer look at the ingredients on the back of this decades-old red and white soup label, I was really shocked. In bold letters, it claims to include GMO corn and soy ingredients, including soy protein isolate. Processed soy has been linked to elevated estrogen levels. There has not been a definite decision on whether this is a good or bad side effect, and can vary from individuals and based on age and ethnicity. Due to all the uncertainty, I avoid processed soy. GMO soy specifically may contain residual pesticides and cause allergic reactions in some people. The condensed soup also contains Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), which is linked to migraines headaches, heart palpitations, chest pain and nausea.

In my personal quest for a healthy lifestyle, all of these ingredients are a deal-breaker for me on a daily basis. So why am I allowing them at my table for a holiday? Should I really be celebrating a holiday by serving my family foods I wouldn’t eat regularly? I’ve decided my answer is no. Sure, holidays are meant for celebrating with traditional foods, and we all love to splurge a bit during the holidays. Traditional foods are part of what celebrations are all about. For me, though, the time has come to update some of the old recipes with ingredients I know are safe for everyone at my table. I have spent much time taking old recipes and reinventing them with healthy, delicious ingredients. It’s time a new and improved green bean casserole recipe is added to the healthy recipe book.

Erin Callender

Green Bean Casserole – The Recipe:

1 lb French green beans
2 tbsp. Olive oil, divided
16 oz container fresh sliced Mushrooms
1 tbsp. Tapioca flour, arrowroot flour or corn starch
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream or canned full fat coconut cream if vegan
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tbsp Jerry’s famous chicken seasoning
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 

In a medium size bowl, toss green beans with 1 tbsp. Olive oil. Roast at 350 for 15 minutes. While green beans are roasting, add olive oil to a sauté pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onions to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with white wine and add chicken stock and tapioca starch. Continue stirring about 3 minutes while broth thickens. Add heavy cream or coconut milk to mixture in pan, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 2 minutes. Place green beans in a medium baking pan and add mushroom / onion mixture.

In another bowl mix slivered almonds, almond flour and chicken seasoning together. Add balsamic vinegar to mixture and stir until crumbly. Top green bean mixture in baking dish and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until heated through and top is a golden brown.

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