We’ve all heard that where there is smoke, there’s fire.  In the kitchen, I am all about adding both: smoke and fire to any dish.  I love smoky, hot food.  Not only does it excite the senses (and clear out the sinuses in the mean time!), but it allows me to get creative in the kitchen with bold, rich flavors.  The beauty of firing up your food with hot peppers and sauces, spicy mustards and smoked spices is that you take a plain, bland food and ignite it on your palate for a lasting, significant flavor - and nutrition, boost.

This month’s Recipe Redux theme: Start Smoking In the New Year is a fun kick-off to 2015 to enjoy the growing trend of smoky, hot and spicy culinary creations.  This is right up my alley as I love using smoked herbs and spices in sauces, soups, salads, pasta, rice, fish, chicken and lean meats.  Today, I am firing up a bean and nut guacamole with a dash of smoked paprika and ground cayenne pepper.  The heat from these spices offers a host of healing health benefits for your whole body.  It’s worth a dash every day!


One of may favorite was to add smoky flavor is with smoked paprika.  I stumbled upon it a few years ago and adore it.  Smoked paprika (aka Spanish paprika) is the sassy sister of plain paprika.  As much as plain paprika is nice to look at, smoked paprika offers the same good looks, but with robust personality and boldness that transforms the eating experience.  I am always amazed at how a dash of smoked paprika adds such depth of flavor to any dish.


In this bean dip, I add crunch with walnuts - not to mention “good”, omega-3 fats, as well as monounsaturated fat from an avocado for a nutrition boost.  A combination of smoke and fire comes from smoked paprika and hot cayenne pepper in this dip.  The flavors blend together well with the smooth texture of this puree.



 Smokin’ Hot Black Bean, Walnut & Avocado Dip


Makes 2.5 cups


2 - 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

1/4 cup raw walnut halves

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small shallot, chopped

1 small tomato, diced

1 small ripe avocado, halved and pitted

1 dash of salt to taste

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground cayenne  pepper


In a Vitamix or blender add beans, cilantro, walnuts, olive oil, shallot, tomato and avocado; blend on low setting until combined well.  Add a tablespoon of two of water, if too thick.  Add salt and spices and pulse a few more times.  Spoon out into a serving bowl.  Serve with veggies or whole grain chips. Enjoy the heat!  Refrigerate leftover dip for a couple of days.

Nutrition Information (per tablespoon): Calories: 134, Total fat: 3 g, Saturated Fat: 0 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 6 mg, Carbohydrates: 21 g, Dietary Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 1 g, Protein: 7 g

 Enjoy eating simply,


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