Slow Cooker Red Beans

Before I moved to New Orleans I had never heard of, let alone eaten, red beans.

Of course, I had seen them in the store and knew of them as a legume, but this Illinois girl had never known them as the beloved Monday meal staple that is red beans in New Orleans.

{This was also the time in my life when I was not so nutritionally-oriented and I also wouldn’t be found in the kitchen so it’s okay to cut me some slack here.}

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I actually hadn’t even had the opportunity to eat red beans until I had been living here for a handful of years, and then when I had them, my preconceived notions of dry, bland beans was thrown out the door.

They were surprisingly creamy and tasty!

As I worked throughout the city, I also learned that they aren’t so healthy. Nor is the rest of the food on the plate that is served with them!- White rice. French bread. High fat meat, like pork sausage to “season” the meat.

But, as with anything recipe, I can twist the recipe to maintain it’s flavor and love, and make it much more nutritious. And that’s what I did here.

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For my seasoning, as they like to say down here, I used leftover spiral ham that I had frozen and saved from Easter this year. I threw in some onions, garlic, and celery, and let it all merry together in the slow cooker.

My goal here was to create a delicious dinner that saved sodium, and saturated fat, but wasn’t too spicy for my flavor-sensitive toddler. This recipe does not have a lot of heat to it, which is perfect for my red bean loving 1 year old, but it still has a smooth, rich flavor for everyone to enjoy!

This made a perfect dinner for Halloween night this week, but it would be great even to use with Thanksgiving leftovers! We are in November after all!

I know, I can’t believe it either!…

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Slow Cooker Red Beans

1 pound red beans, dried

1 quart spiral ham {use as much or as little as you want}

1/2 red onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 celery stalks, diced

4 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon Sal & Judy’s Creole Seasoning

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

freshly ground black pepper

1 quart unsalted chicken stock

Cover the dried beans with water and let soak over night.

Drain the red beans and add to the slow cooker. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Set on high for 8 hours.

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Serve with 1/2 cup wild grain or brown rice and a side of vegetables {I suggest roasted Brussels sprouts, but a salad or your favorite veggie would do just fine}!

This is a perfect no-stress meatless Monday meal. So get to enjoying your weekend and have an easy and delicious dinner planned for the start of next week!

xo,

Becca

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