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Circling back to resolutions

A vegetable pot pie Judith Dunbar Hines' home Chicago Ill. Wednesday February 13 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

A vegetable pot pie at Judith Dunbar Hines' home in Chicago, Ill., on Wednesday, February 13, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 21, 2013 6:08AM

How are you doing with those New Year’s resolutions? Following a week that included Fat Tuesday and Valentine’s Day, are they all forgotten by now?

Most of us optimistically head into a new year with high hopes and plans for living better and, two months in, we’ve strayed from those promises.

Then, along comes Lent. It is a time for reflection and abstinence, and again many make ambitious plans and promises. Some forgo sweets, others simply promise to avoid gluttony, while many adhere to the ages-old custom of omitting meat from the diet as a way of exhibiting self-denial and penance during this holy season.

Experts tell us that fully 50 percent of those making resolutions include some sort of healthful plan for their diets. But we all know that, presented with something sweet and gooey, or an extravagant dining experience, temptation abounds — and usually wins.

Whether you are among those looking for more healthy dishes, for personal or religious reasons, or maybe because you have simply decided to make meatless a part of your regular rotation of dinner plans, we have a recipe for you.

Who doesn’t love pot pie? Images of Mom’s chunky chicken version or even the Swanson’s introduction of the innovative 1950s come to mind, and our mouths water. Memories of the aroma of Mom’s pot pie in the oven on Sunday evening come to me especially clearly when snow, sleet and slush of winter weather gets tedious at this time of year.

So instead of the rich filling from her recipe, I remind myself of those healthy resolutions I made a few weeks ago and turn to this version, full of good-for-you veggies, no cream, but a crispy topping to crunch between the teeth at first bite.

Any of the easily available hearty winter greens will work here, but I prefer the colorful accent of rainbow chard. And if canellini beans are not in the cupboard, use another type. The Cajun flavors are warm and spicy and the vinegar, traditional with those greens, perks up the flavor by bringing out the heat in the spices. Adjust the amounts as your family prefers, or add a bit of smoked paprika to give the dish a smoky and meaty flavor if you wish. Of course, you also can add a cupful or two of cooked smoked sausage to the filling if your family has not sworn off meat.

Serve this as a delicious side dish or make it the centerpiece for a cold wintry night — I’m sure there will be a few more of those opportunities before the daffodils arrive.

Judith Dunbar Hines is a cooking teacher, tour guide, writer and culinary consultant in Chicago. Contact her at

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