Slow Cooker Red Beans and (Brown) Rice

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

Having started my elementary school years at a Catholic school in Louisiana, there is something about the Lenten season that makes me crave Cajun foods. From steamy gumbo to crispy catfish, my mouth starts watering for these comforting, Creole morsels before the last bite of King Cake has been finished. Today I’m sharing a recipe for a meatless, budget-friendly (and diet-friendly) recipe that is perfect for Fridays during Lent, and just about everyday in between!

This Red Beans and (Brown) Rice dish requires a bit of prep work and advanced planning (the beans have to soak and boil briefly before you toss them into the slow cooker), but I can assure you that this recipe is still incredibly simple!

Now, you may be asking, why bother to boil the beans? After all, isn’t the point of a slow cooker to eliminate that pesky step?

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Brown Rice

Indeed, most dry beans can be tossed in a slow cooker and cook beautifully, but red kidney beans are a special case. Undercooked red beans contain a toxin, so you must boil them for at least 10 minutes before you put them in the slow cooker. Note: this is a prime example of why it’s important to get recipes from reputable sources that have been trained in food safety (such as yours truly)!

Once your beans have gotten a head start on the stove, the slow cooker will soften the beans and develop the flavors of the dish. The familiar southern aroma comes not only from the seasoning, but also from the onion, celery, and green bell peppers (the “Holy Trinity” of Cajun cuisine).

Rice is a namesake component of Red Beans and Rice, but feel free to get creative with your grain base. Personally, I think a combination of different whole grains (like barley, quinoa, and farro) would go really well with this recipe. In fact, I was planning to use barley (hulled, not pearled), but my local Whole Foods was out. This hearty, rib-sticking bowl is best served alongside a dark green vegetable, such as kale chips (like I used) or collard greens.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Brown Rice 

Slow Cooker Red Beans and (Brown) Rice

adapted from MyRecipes.com

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry red kidney beans
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons Cajun or Creole seasoning (I use 3 tbsp, but if cooking for young children, I recommend 2 tbsp)
  • Optional: 7 oz Andouille sausage, sliced (I didn’t use sausage in the recipe today, to keep it budget-friendly and Lent-friendly, but I have used it in the past and it was delicious!)
  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice (or other whole grains, such as barley, quinoa, or farro) for serving. This will make about 6 cups of cooked rice, which is enough for about eight ¾ cup servings.

Method

  1. Soak the dry beans in a pot of water for five hours. Then, drain the soaking water and add fresh water to the bean pot. Bring to a full boil, and boil for at least 10 minutes. NOTE: DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. RED KIDNEY BEANS CAN BE TOXIC IF UNDERCOOKED.
  2. Drain the boiling water from the beans. Then add beans and all other ingredients (including sausage, if using) to a slightly oiled slow cooker.
  3. Cook on high for 6 hours. Then remove the lid and cook on high for an additional 30 minutes. This will help it thicken up a bit.
  4. Before serving, prepare rice (or other whole grains, if using) according to package instructions. Two cups of uncooked brown rice will yield about six cups of rice, which is enough for eight 3/4 cup servings. 
  5. Portion about ¾ cup red beans over about ¾ cup brown rice in a bowl.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Brown Rice

Nutrition per serving (3/4 cup red beans over 3/4 cup brown rice, not including sausage): 390 calories, 2g fat (0g saturated fat), 18g protein, 76g carbohydrates (17g fiber, 3g sugar), 140mg sodium, 3% Vitamin A, 28% Vitamin C, 11% Calcium, 31% Iron

– Kelly

Advertisements

Cranberry Apple Steel Cut Oatmeal (Slow Cooker)

Cranberry Apple Steel Cut Oatmeal (Slow Cooker)

Don’t let the name of this recipe fool you. Tart from the cranberries, sweet from the apple cider, and warm and gooey from the slow-cooked steel cut oats, this oatmeal tastes remarkably like cherry cobbler. Don’t ask how I got from cran-apple to cherry (sweet and tart, remember???), just go with it.

Even though this is naturally sweetened steel cut oatmeal we’re talking about, it may even be too rich for breakfast. (But don’t worry, I won’t tell!) I mean, I really can’t overstate the uncanny resemblance between this dish and cherry cobbler.

Regardless of when your hunger strikes, this deliciously fruity porridge will go perfectly with a cold glass of milk, a creamy latte, or a sizeable scoop of vanilla ice cream. I’ll leave the choice up to you!

Cranberry Apple Steel Cut Oatmeal (Slow Cooker)

Cranberry Apple Steel Cut Oatmeal (Slow Cooker)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 cup whole cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups unsweetened Apple Cider (0r apple juice)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used organic nonfat milk)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed

Method:

  1. Lightly coat the inside of a programmable slow cooker with oil or cooking spray.
  2. Pour all ingredients into the slow cooker, then stir to combine.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 4.5 to 5 hours. I use a programmable slow cooker so that I can get more than five hours of sleep and still wake up to warm oatmeal. (Once the oatmeal is done cooking the programmed amount of time, the slow cooker automatically switches to a ‘warm’ setting and holds the food warm.)
  4. Divide into 4 bowls and serve immediately, or put leftover servings into the fridge for later. To reheat individual servings, simply microwave on high for 1 ½ to 2 minutes.

Nutrition per serving: 300 calories, 8g fat (1g saturated fat), 51g carbohydrates (9g fiber, 15g sugar), 10g protein, 20mg sodium, 1% Vitamin A, 6% Vitamin C, 12% Iron, 8% Calcium

Cranberry Apple Steel Cut Oatmeal (Slow Cooker)

– Kelly

Overnight Chai Pear Steel Cut Oatmeal (Slow Cooker)

Overnight Chai Pear Steel Cut Oatmeal (Slow Cooker)

What if there was a wonderful appliance that you could toss in a bunch of ingredients into before bed, then wake up to a warm, fragrant breakfast? For those without fear of burning the house down, this same gadget could take tough meats from chewy to downright tender, all while you’re at work or out running errands.

Indeed, such an appliance exists. And of course, I’m talking about the slow cooker.

That being said, I hardly use mine either.

This week, however, was a different story. When I stumbled upon the Chai and Pear Oatmeal from The Oatmeal Artist blog, I knew that a few tweaks would make this recipe a great contender for the slow cooker. Steel cut oats take forever to cook compared to their (aptly titled) quick-cooking counterparts, but using the handy, dandy slow cooker means that you don’t have to hover over the stove for half an hour to enjoy the sweet, nutty taste of these delightfully chewy oat pieces.

Overnight Chai Pear Steel Cut Oatmeal (Slow Cooker)

Overnight Chai Pear Steel Cut Oatmeal (Slow Cooker)

Serves 5

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 2 chai tea bags (I used Numi Rooibos Chai)
  • 1 cup milk (I used organic nonfat milk)
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 4 pears, diced
  • ¼ cup date paste (or 2 tablespoons maple syrup)
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed

Method:

  1. Make 2 cups of strong chai tea, letting the tea bags steep for at least 30 minutes. Once the tea is sufficiently strong, discard the used tea bags.
  2. Lightly coat the inside of a programmable slow cooker with oil or cooking spray.
  3. Pour all ingredients into the slow cooker, then stir to combine.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 4.5 to 5 hours. I use a programmable slow cooker so that I can get more than five hours of sleep and still wake up to warm oatmeal. (Once the oatmeal is done cooking the programmed amount of time, the slow cooker automatically switches to a ‘warm’ setting and holds the food warm.)
  5. Divide into 5 bowls and serve immediately, or put leftover servings into the fridge for later. To reheat individual servings, simply microwave on high for 1 ½ to 2 minutes.

Overnight Chai Pear Steel Cut Oatmeal (Slow Cooker)

Nutrition per serving: 300 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated fat), 55g cholesterol (11g fiber, 21g sugar*), 9g protein, 25mg sodium, 3% Vitamin A, 10% Vitamin C, 13% Iron, 12% Calcium

*None are the dangerous added sugars or refined sweeteners

– Kelly

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

[UPDATED ON 1-18-2015 WITH NEW PHOTOS & UPDATED RECIPE]

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal, with Fresh Cranberries and Pecans

After having so much success making this delicious Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal in the slow cooker, I decided to tweak the recipe and create an overnight pumpkin steel cut oatmeal. Fresh cranberries and chopped pecans round out the fall flavors.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal, with Fresh Cranberries and Pecans

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup 100% pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 cup milk (I used organic nonfat milk)
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup uncooked steel cut oats
  • 2/3 cup fresh (or frozen) cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Method

  1. Coat inside of slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Pour water, spices, maple syrup, vanilla, flax and pumpkin into a separate bowl and whisk until combined.
  3. Pour pumpkin mixture and oats into the slow cooker and stir to combine. Then, evenly sprinkle cranberries and pecan pieces on top.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 4.5 to 5 hours. I use a programmable slow cooker so that I can get more than five hours of sleep and still wake up to warm oatmeal. Once the oatmeal is done cooking, the slow cooker holds the food warm.
  5. Divide into 4 bowls and serve immediately, or put leftover servings into the fridge for later. Sometimes I like to stir in a few tablespoons of milk upon serving to produce a more creamy oatmeal. To reheat individual servings, add about ¼ cup of water and microwave on high for about 1 ½ minutes. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal, with Fresh Cranberries and Pecans

Nutrition per serving: 350 calories, 11g fat (1g saturated fat), 52g carbohydrates (10g fiber, 16g sugar*), 12g protein, 30mg sodium, 193% Vitamin A, 8% Vitamin C, 16% Calcium, 18% Iron

*9g added sugars (2 1/4 teaspoons) from the Maple syrup

-Kelly

Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew

UPDATED WITH NEW PHOTOS ON 3-23-2014!

Healthy Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew

I was first introduced to delicious Brunswick stew at The Brickstore Pub in Decatur, Georgia. This sweet and savory stew is hearty and filling, and the perfect recipe to come home to after a long fall day. I took this recipe and made it extra healthy by increasing the vegetable content and omitting excess sugar and butter. A side salad or kale chips make this a meal! (Mine is pictured with the seeded 7-grain bread from Clear Flour)

Healthy Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew

Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew, a healthy take on this recipe

Serves 9 (Makes about nine 1 1/2 cup servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 small new potatoes, chopped (I used 2 red and 2 golden)
  • 1 pound package frozen lima beans
  • 1 pound package frozen corn
  • 1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (I used Stubbs Original)
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

Method

  1. Add all ingredients to a 6 quart slow cooker, stir, and cook on low for 10 hours (or high for 5-6 hours). After cooking, shred any remaining large pieces of pork and stir before serving.

Healthy Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew

Nutrition per serving (1 1/2 cups): 233 calories, 2.6g fat (0.6g saturated), 32.8mg cholesterol, 287mg sodium, 37.8g carbohydrates (5g fiber, 10.6g sugar), 18.4g protein, 6.2% Vitamin A, 37.8% Vitamin C, 6.9% Calcium, 12.1% Iron

Nutrition Facts were estimated using the following ingredients:

-Kelly