Chicken Sausage with White Beans and Chard over Pumpkin Polenta

Some say the key to better sleep and a good love life is to take the television out of the bedroom. They may have a good point, but I’m currently not complaining about either of those areas. I love having a TV in our room so I can catch the news every morning while I get ready. Of course, some of what I hear barely qualifies as news. Like the fact that the average American eats less than ten grams of fiber per day, as announced by some Barbie doll masquerading as a nutritionist.
For what it’s worth, the recommended intake is 25-30 grams, and reaching that target will help keep your digestive track healthy, may reduce cholesterol, and will certainly keep you more satisfied throughout the day.

The supposed nutritionist proceeded to lead us around the grocery store, pointing out healthy options for a balanced diet and weight loss. Fruit juice, Greek yogurt, and Skinny Cow ice cream snacks were the three that stuck in my mind all day. Can you guess which of those three is the only one you’d catch me eating?

Let’s start with fruit juice. To be fair, it can be a good source of vitamins. But let’s be frank. Does a glass of juice at around one hundred calories satisfy you the way a piece of whole fruit would? I think not. And on to Skinny Cow. Oh dear, Skinny Cow, how I used to love thee. Then I realized the abundance of more tasty, nourishing late-night snacks without the artificial sweeteners. That leaves Greek yogurt. You can bet I make time for a daily dose of all-natural, protein-packed Chobani.

The conclusion I’m drawing is that I could do a far better job helping Americans eat a more balanced, fiber-rich diet. And I might even look cuter doing it, in a real-girl sort of way.

Let’s talk about where fiber comes from. Legumes, like beans and lentils. Unprocessed whole grains, like barley and quinoa. And of course, fruits and vegetables. Believe it or not, even though I make it a point to eat a high protein, moderately low-carb diet, I still manage to get my daily recommended dose of fiber – and on many days, quite a bit more.

The key, I think, is choosing carbs wisely. Avoiding processed foods as much as possible in favor of all those things I mentioned above. And once I’ve got all those fiber-rich ingredients, I pair them with a protein, of course.

This dish is a great example of all of the above. Hearty yellow cornmeal pairs with my favorite superfood, pumpkin (big surprise there!)and a little bit of cheese to make a thick, creamy polenta. This is the bed for a mixture of sweet onions and chicken sausage with plenty of leafy greens and white beans. It packs in more than half of your recommended daily fiber intake, and a good serving of protein too. But most of all, it’s absolutely perfect comfort food for a cool autumn night.



Chicken Sausage with White Beans and Chard over Pumpkin Polenta
Printable Recipe

1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
1 large bunch of Swiss chard (or kale, spinach, or another leafy green of your choice)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 links all-natural, fully cooked chicken sausage*, 4oz each, thinly sliced
1 cup drained, rinsed cannellini beans
1 cup (240 gm) canned pumpkin puree or roasted, mashed winter squash
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup (72 gm) yellow corn meal
pinch of nutmeg
1 oz grated pecorino romano cheese
salt & pepper, to taste

Heat a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until softened.

Meanwhile, prepare the Swiss chard. Cut off the thick stems and slice the leaves into 1″ ribbons. Rinse in a colander and set aside.

Add the garlic, chicken sausage, and white beans to the onions. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Cook for one minute, until garlic is fragrant. Add the Swiss chard, with the water still clinging to it. Stir to combine, then cover the pan and raise heat to medium-high. Let the greens wilt down while you prepare the polenta. Stir occasionally.

Whisk together the water and pumpkin puree in a medium sauce pan. Season generously with salt, and add the nutmeg. Place the cornmeal in a small bowl and pour a little of the pumpkin mixture over it; stir well (this will make it easier to incorporate the cornmeal into the heated pumpkin mixture, without clumping.) Bring the remaining mixture in the sauce pan to a boil. Whisk in the wet cornmeal until smooth, then reduce heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, for about 10 minutes. When polenta has thickened (if you draw the spoon across the bottom of the pan, the line should remain visible for a short time), stir in the grated cheese and turn off heat. Adjust with salt and pepper to taste.

Taste the sausage and bean mixture and season with salt and pepper if desired. Divide the hot polenta between two plates and top with the sausage, white beans and chard.

*Chicken sausage can be a much healthier alternative to pork sausage, but it can also be loaded with crap (for lack of a better word.) It’s important to choose wisely. My rule of thumb, aside from just reading the nutrition facts, is that if there’s anything in the ingredient list I can’t easily pronounce and wouldn’t put in the sausage if I were to make it myself, I put it back and look for another. For this recipe I used Sam’s Club Spinach and Asiago chicken sausage.

Nutritional Info**
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 444.7
Total Fat: 10.2 g
Cholesterol: 80.0 mg
Sodium: 1,645.7 mg
Total Carbs: 65.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 16.2 g
Protein: 31.2 g

**These amounts will vary based on the brand of chicken sausage used.

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21 Responses to “Chicken Sausage with White Beans and Chard over Pumpkin Polenta”

  1. 1

    emily.schildt — November 18, 2010 @ 1:50 pm Reply

    Thanks for making room for a daily dose of CHO! Can't wait to give this delicious recipe a whirl.EmilyCommunications ManagerChobani Greek Yogurt

  2. 2

    Katie @ Health for the Whole Self — November 18, 2010 @ 2:06 pm Reply

    This sounds like yet another wonderful recipe! And I agree, you could do a MUCH better job of helping Americans eat enough fiber, and you'd look way cuter and more real doing it! :)

  3. 3

    Dawn — November 18, 2010 @ 2:42 pm Reply

    First of all, great post. You are so right…I love when people suggest processed foods as a "good choice". Don't get me wrong, I still occasionally eat processed foods, however, I keep in mind not to eat these things all the time. Secondly, as usual, I LOVE this recipe. I can't wait to try it!

  4. 4

    Tasha — November 18, 2010 @ 5:48 pm Reply

    I love recipes like this that pair so many wonderful and favorite ingredients and are so good for you!

  5. 5

    Joanne — November 18, 2010 @ 6:36 pm Reply

    It always amazes me when i see that people get less than 10 grams of fiber a day when I'm always over the recommended amount. (She says as she sits here eating her greek yogurt…you and I are so alike. They really should put us on the news to discuss the kinds of foods that REAL people should eat.) I adore this dish! It really is the kind of meal that I love! Totally making it soon.

  6. 6

    DavePR — November 18, 2010 @ 6:56 pm Reply

    I love that you mixed a posting about fiber with an interesting and meat filled recipe! For the sausage, do you use Original Brat Hans? I know they are all natural with no antibiotics or hormones. Looking forward to reading more!

  7. 7

    Cara — November 18, 2010 @ 7:00 pm Reply

    Hi @Dave, thanks for stopping by! There are a few different brands I like but most often I use Trader Joe's or the Spinach Asiago flavor at Sam's Club (strangely not all the flavors they sell are natural, but this one is and we like it a lot.)

  8. 8

    Bree — November 18, 2010 @ 7:18 pm Reply

    Uggh I get stabby when I see people spouting off stuff like that on Tv. No wonder people have no idea how to eat. This recipe looks awesome! I use chicken sausage in so many dishes. I get Amylu brand from Costco and they have a great natural ingredient list. If I am out of those, I get Trader Joes, too.

  9. 9

    flavourfulbounty — November 18, 2010 @ 7:31 pm Reply

    What a wonderful combination.. I have yet to try pumpkin polenta, but this looks great! Yummy fall flavours. :)And who let that Barbie doll on the air? It saddens me…

  10. 10

    JuLo — November 18, 2010 @ 7:40 pm Reply

    Ok, can we be best friends? I totally agree 100% with everything you just said. Why would a nutritionist recommend fruit juice over real fruit when talking about daily recommended fiber? Even fresh squeezed juice may have the vitamins, but you're missing out on all the fiber in the fruit. *sigh*I don't even count grams of this or that. I just do like you, eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein, and some whole grains (not too many), and I feel great. It doesn't have to be a big, exhaustive process to be healthy. :)I love polenta, and this meal sounds amazing! I just made butternut squash risotto with barley that I can't stop eating. Hello, fiber! ;)-Julie@Bananas for Bourbon

  11. 11

    carascravings — November 19, 2010 @ 12:06 am Reply

    The pumpkin polenta looks gorgeous on the bottom, I love the colours!

  12. 12

    Michelle — November 19, 2010 @ 3:38 pm Reply

    That looks great! I'm glad to hear some sense spoken around fiber. Those processed and marketed fiber drinks and fiber cereals make me want to scream, just eat real food!!

  13. 13

    Shannon — November 19, 2010 @ 10:44 pm Reply

    yeah there was definitely a time when i fell for all the gimmicks, but now i realize how much better real food is :) and i still need to make polenta…

  14. 14

    camelia — November 19, 2010 @ 10:49 pm Reply

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  15. 15

    Jess — November 19, 2010 @ 10:59 pm Reply

    Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, so consumers, beware! Mmm pumpkin polenta sounds delish.With the population I work with as an RD, I completely agree with most of the population getting less than 10 g fiber/day. Why was juice, skinny cows and Greek yogurt mentioned in a piece about fiber anyway?

  16. 16

    Barbara — November 20, 2010 @ 1:52 pm Reply

    Oh well…I guess anyone can stand up in front of a camera and claim to known what they're talking about. Where's the big fiber in skinny cow cheese?I'm loving the idea of pumpkin polenta.

  17. 17

    Lizzy — November 21, 2010 @ 5:22 pm Reply

    Agree with everything you have written- I just read on someones blog about the new wave of RDs who concentrate more on healthy fats and unprocessed foods then low-fat non fat processed crap. Always interesting…Anyway, Pumpkin Polenta! You are so creative Cara and I love coming to your blog for inspiration : )I made your kale ans spaghetti squash gratin last week again and loved it : )

  18. 18

    Susan (peebsmama) — November 30, 2010 @ 1:02 am Reply

    I made this for dinner tonight. It was very quick to make – less than 20 minutes. I used apple chicken sausage and kale for the greens. After sauteing all the ingredients, I deglazed the pan with some white wine and added a little sage. The polenta made more than 2 servings but the leftovers should be good. Instead of adding the romano in the polenta I topped the meal with it. Colorful, tasty and healthy. I will be making this again. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

  19. 19

    Whit — December 4, 2010 @ 7:20 pm Reply

    Yum! I made this for dinner the other night (with a few modifications for what I had on hand), and we LOVED it! So good, Cara! Thanks for sharing!

  20. 20

    Whit — April 5, 2011 @ 1:11 am Reply

    Yum! I made this for dinner the other night (with a few modifications for what I had on hand), and we LOVED it! So good, Cara! Thanks for sharing!

  21. 21

    Bree — April 5, 2011 @ 1:11 am Reply

    Uggh I get stabby when I see people spouting off stuff like that on Tv. No wonder people have no idea how to eat. This recipe looks awesome! I use chicken sausage in so many dishes. I get Amylu brand from Costco and they have a great natural ingredient list. If I am out of those, I get Trader Joes, too.

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