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Lighten Up – Black Bean Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Since the first time I tried Heather’s sweet potato and black bean nachos, I was hooked.  The flavor combination of the smoky black beans, creamy goat cheese and starchy sweet potatoes was perfect.  I’ve made this dish several times as a light meal or snack.


When we tried a new local restaurant, The Village Tavern, for the first time I was really excited to see a quesadilla on the menu – with black beans, goat cheese, roasted red peppers & onions. 

They were generous with the goat cheese too – and served it in a sun-dried tomato wrap – one of the restaurant style ones that usually pack upwards of 300 calories.


Don’t get me wrong, it was incredibly delicious.  I only had two triangles that night and finished the rest for lunch the next day.  I decided I could definitely make them at home and save a lot of calories.

I also wanted to add in more veggies – green peppers, corn, and onions.  When trying to make a lower-cal quesadilla in the past, I usually limit the cheese – but this is tough since the cheese acts as the glue to hold the quesadilla together.  I had some spicy black bean dip (TJ’s) to use up, so I figured it could act as the glue instead.  This also saved me from cooking & seasoning the black beans.


I mixed the black bean dip with the cooked veggies and topped each one with about 1 ounce of goat cheese.


To increase the cheesiness just a little, I added some low-fat shredded mozzarella.  Just for good measure! 😉


Black bean dip is really not photogenic – but it tastes amazing!  Using a 90 calorie high fiber tortilla cuts out a lot of calories, too.

Approximate nutrition (my version in bold):

  • Calories: 311 vs 542
  • Fat: 12 g vs 21 g
  • Carbs: 36 g vs 59 g
  • Protein: 17 g vs 23 g

I made three quesadillas and threw two in the freezer for back up lunches when I don’t have anything else to take to work.


There are really three ways to enjoy your favorite foods while still staying in your calorie goals: eat smaller portions, eat them less often, or modify them to fit your plan. 

Do you “lighten up” your favorite foods or just enjoy them once in a while in smaller portions?

14 responses to “Lighten Up – Black Bean Goat Cheese Quesadillas

  1. Shanna, like Banana June 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Oh how I love quesadillas…one of the most perfect Mexi foods.

    I always lighten up my meals or sub some ingredients like rice for cabbage slaw in Asian dishes..that sort of thing.

  2. Jess (In My Healthy Opinion) June 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Looks delicious! I would’ve been surprised to see that on the menu too. 🙂

    Eh, sometimes I lighten up baked goods if I feel sugar overloaded, but it’s always with Stevia. I truly think eating more natural foods is healthier than ones lower calorie/fat and loaded with chemicals.

  3. sprint2thetable June 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Such a great idea to freeze some for later! I keep pre-packaged frozen foods and they taste ok… but the sodium is SO high.

    I will recreate many of my favorite food. I find that I typically like my lighted versions better. Often I find them too greasy or salty or smothered in cheese (I like cheese, but also like to be able to taste the other components!) when I’m eating at casual dining spots.

  4. The Teenage Taste June 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Wow. These look FABulous! I love Mexican food! ❤

  5. bakingdevils June 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    How interesting to use a black bean dip…I’ve never made this before and never used goats cheese either in my quesadillas…. This looks very yummy and quite healthy – so, will have to give this a go….

    Nice blog…will be back soon


  6. Tiff June 23, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    That looks soooo good. I haven’t had goat cheese with beans, but I love both. I’ll have to give this a shot in the very near future. I lighten up most foods, like lasagna (still sorta high cal though), enchiladas/buritos, and Chinese take-out favorites – but I never lighten pizza. Pizza is pizza, and I ought not mess with greatness.

  7. Cait's Plate June 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Oh YUM. Those look seriously delicious. I do both – sometimes I’ll try to lighten things up but other times I’m just happy to eat a small portion of the real thing.

  8. allieksmith June 23, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I like big portions so I would prefer to lighten my meals up 😉

  9. Jenny June 23, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I love quesadillas especially how easy they are to healthify! 🙂

  10. Alexa @ Simple Eats June 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I love lightening up foods! I try to use reduced fat cheese, fat free refried beans and low fat sour cream when it comes to Mexican food!

  11. anjobanjo22 June 23, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I do both of these. Sometimes I try a healthier alternative of my favorite recipes but I always try to regulate my portion size. It’s just a healthy habit 🙂

  12. char on a mission June 24, 2011 at 2:31 am

    I would say lightening them up…cause then you can still enjoy them (since cutting back on the portion means cutting back on the amount of goodness you get lol). Quesadillas are so good and now I want to go make my sweet potato quesadillas that I haven’t made in a while!

  13. Er June 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Yum! that looks SO good…even at 10 a.m.

  14. kristina@beancakes June 24, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    ooh this looks delicious!! i love sweet potatoes and black beans! to tell you the truth, i RARELY lighten up foods, i like to enjoy the real thing!! just not too often 😉 happy friday to you!
    xo ~ kristina

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