One of the things I do to be a healthy writer is attend dance class twice a week. I love the way dancing makes me feel glamorous and strong, the way it lets me step outside of myself for an hour. However, I don’t love the way I have to squeeze in dinner between leaving my day job at five and arriving at the dance studio at six-thirty. With drive time, I have about 45 minutes to eat and dress for class. At first I would grab something quick on the way, a burger or a wrap, but I quickly realized my not-healthy meals were undoing all of the work I did on the dance floor. I’ve solved the problem by bringing out an old favorite in the kitchen: the slow cooker.
This recipe is for red beans and rice. Traditional New Orleans style red beans and rice is a meal served on Mondays with women setting the beans out to soak on Sunday while they do the laundry. That recipe usually includes sausage or ham. This recipe has a Caribbean twist that replaces the meat with tomatoes, and thanks to canned beans, you don’t have to wait for anything to soak. You can have this modern version Wednesday, Friday, or any day of the week when you’d like a hot, healthy, meatless meal waiting for you. You can even prepare it the night before and use a kitchen timer when you’re in a real rush.
A few words about why this recipe is healthy. It’s low in fat, but still packed with fiber and protein from the beans. The tomatoes give the dish a high amount of lycopene, vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium.
Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice
1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
¾ cup water
1 small onion, diced (approximately 1 ½ cups)
¼ cup diced green pepper
1 tablespoon garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon red pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
1 bay leaf
Combine all ingredients in a small to medium slow cooker. Stir well. Cook on low for four to six hours, until hot throughout. While the beans are cooking, make your favorite rice in the usual manner. Serve the beans over brown rice for health’s sake or white rice for tradition’s sake.
You may not have noticed it yet, but I hate spicy food. I’ll cheerfully eat whole cloves of garlic or sautéed onions while picking out any chili peppers or bell peppers that might sneak into a meal. The recipe above is made to my taste, with the ingredients in italics for all of you who like your food with a little kick. I find slow-cookers bring out even mild flavors. What are your slow cooker favorites? Will your red beans and rice be super spicy or just rich and wonderful?
When she’s not cooking, buying, or dreaming about food, Rachel Kleinsorge writes steamy paranormal mystery romances. She is currently waiting for the call from her agent, the amazing Carolyn Grayson, while working on her next novel.