Vegetarian Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

Vegetarian Slow Cooker Red Beans & Rice

Last year I lost 40 pounds. I didn’t talk about that here much, but slowly but surely I’ve been trying to be more healthy. I sort of bottomed out at the end of the year with the holidays and such and then the drudgery that January always seems to be, but it’s time to get back on track.

In the past I’ve gone to Weight Watchers time and time again. To be honest while they have some good ideas I get fed up with the “cheating” to eat things route by eating things that aren’t real and aren’t good for you. Their products, which granted you don’t have to buy, have artificial sweeteners in them, which aren’t good for you, not to mention high fructose corn syrup and if you’ve read this blog for a while you know how I feel about that. The “Oh you can take a diet soda and put it in a cake mix and bake it and you can have cake!” stuff annoys me. You can still have cake. Just eat one slice, not two or three. It’s all about moderation. Or how about “You can spray this ‘butter’ on a potato and it’s just like real butter!” No it’s not. Again moderation. Who wants to eat some weird chemical in place of real, whole foods? Not me!


I’ve also tried various other “diets” over the years including many of the fad “diets” that came along and the thing about “diets” is they don’t work. Do you know when I started losing weight? I stopped trying! Weight has been an issue for me since childhood. I was tired of being defined by it, but instead of deciding to lose weight, which I had done time and time again, only to lose weight and then gain it back, I simply decided to be healthy. As they say perception is reality and I decided to change my perception.

I started out slow. I started exercising here and there, and I’ll be honest with you, I’m not an exercise fan in the least. I’ve never understood this buzz everyone talks about that you get after you exercise. It just doesn’t do it for me. I’ve even used a trainer back in the day and still nothing! I love to swim, but given our rural location the nearest pools to us are 16 and 18 miles respectively and given the price of gas, despite the fact I drive a hybrid, that’s not possible to do on a regular basis.

I started playing more with Alexis. We’d kick around the soccer ball in the yard, or go down to the park and walk, or play Wii sports, or play catch, but never every day. I do Wii Fit some days. Nothing fancy, nothing scheduled, just here and there.

The next thing I did was start to focus on serving sizes. Instead of eating all of something I wanted, I’d eat just the listed serving size. If I was still hungry I’d grab some fruit or a vegetable, which to me are “free foods”. I also started eating less processed stuff, which is really gross when you think about it! Just read the label. What the heck is half of that stuff? I’d rather eat real food than some chemical laden something that might have been something once, but has lost it’s nutritional value by being too processed! And I started focusing on adding more fruits and vegetables, which I’ve always eaten a lot of, but perhaps not quite enough of. I’ve also started listening to my body and I stop eating when I’m full. It’s amazing how much all of this helps!

So what now?

To jump back in to this little project I decided to go vegetarian for the month of February. If you follow me on Twitter or the Dianne’s Dishes page on FaceBook you saw this little tidbit yesterday. You’ll most likely see various vegetarian recipes as the month goes along and afterwards too depending on how in to this I get. I’ve gone veg for a month’s time in the past too, but I’ve never stayed with it. In all honesty I most likely won’t this time either, but the goal is to jump start myself back in to eating right and then eat less meat in general after the month ends.

Last night I wanted Red Beans & Rice and decided to bring this dish to the slow cooker. I put it on in plenty of time for dinner, but of course that only works IF you actually turn on the slow cooker! I realized around 3 that I had plugged the slow cooker up, but I hadn’t turned it on. Oh well. It ended up being done around 7:30, but we eat dinner much earlier than that so guess what I’m having for lunch today?

This is really simple to put together and then you just walk away and forget about it until it’s time to eat. It’s delicious, filling, chock full of nutritious ingredients and just perfect for these cold winter nights!

What You’ll Need:
1 cup of long grain brown rice (Note: You could use white rice if you wanted to, but brown is much healthier.)
2 cups of dried red kidney beans that have been soaked overnight
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup of chives, chopped (Note: I used dried chives this go around, but you can use fresh as well.)
1-2 tablespoons Cajun or Creole Seasoning
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of sea salt (Note: Omit this if your seasoning contains salt.)
4 cups of water

In the bottom of your slow cooker spread the rice out in an even layer.

Next add the kidney beans on top of the rice.

After the kidney beans add the red onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic and chives.

Sprinkle the seasoning, smoked paprika and salt evenly over the vegetables and rice and then cover with the water. (Remember to omit the salt if your seasoning already has salt in it.)

Cook on high for 4-5 hours until rice is done and beans are tender.

Serve with hot sauce if desired. A nice side dish for this is Spicy Baked Chard. A slice of sour dough bread might be nice as well.

Notes: This recipe is Vegan as written. The possibilities with this recipe are endless. You can substitute black or pinto beans in place of the red. Sometimes I like to add in other vegetables to up the nutritional punch. Zucchini, squash and/or carrots are really great in this mix. If you really want to spice things up add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper on top of the Cajun or Creole seasoning, which I do often. Also you could add a vegetarian sausage if you prefer, but I like to use the smoked paprika for that sausage taste as I’ve never been a fan of the sausages used in Red Beans and Rice.

Homemade Goat Cheese

Homemade Goat Cheese

If you’ve been a reader of Dianne’s Dishes for a while you know I am more than obsessed with goat cheese. I love the stuff! There is just something so scrumptious about it’s tangy, creamy goodness! So when I decided to try my hand at cheese making, goat cheese was sure to follow.

The goat cheese took longer than 30 minutes, but still not long in the grand scheme of things. The goat’s milk that I bought at My Organic Market was already pasteurized as sales of raw milk here in Maryland are illegal, so I skipped the pasteurization step. I simply had to heat my gallon of milk to 86 F and add the Chevre starter. I did this Tuesday night and let it sit overnight to thicken.

Yesterday morning around 8:30 am I started the next step of the process, which is the draining process. You ladle the solids out and place it into cheesecloth in a colander and let it sit for several hours. The longer you let it sit the more firm it becomes.

Homemade Goat Cheese Draining

I decided to go for a creamier cheese and ended up with a slightly firm finished product that is somewhat spreadable. I also didn’t add any salt to the finished product, though that’s always an option. The cheese was just the right combination of tangy and creamy and I felt that salt wasn’t needed, but you can add that in if you want. You can also add in herbs and such if you like. It’s all a matter of personal taste.

You can even freeze the cheese pre-salting! I’m still amazed at how easy the whole process of making cheese is! Alexis and I are having a lot of fun making cheeses. I think we’ve found a new hobby!