Sunday, November 20, 2011

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

I love my slow cooker, because you can "set it and forget it." Dinner is ready whenever you are, and the cooking is already it's great for busy evenings. This recipe does call for some skillet-cooking of vegetables ahead of time, but I think it would probably be fine if you didn't do that, as long as you cook it the full 8 hours. You could also leave out the oil if you did it that way. As usual, I have backed down on the spices in my version because I'm not a fan of things that are really hot. If you want it hot, add the 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper back into the recipe.

Black Bean Soup
Adapted from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
2 14.5 oz cans black beans, rinsed & drained
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (not drained)
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
2 bay leaves

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, bell pepper, and minced garlic, stir, cover, and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, in slow cooker, add beans, tomatoes, and spices and stir together. When vegetables are done, add them to the cooker. Pour broth over top, stir, and add the bay leaves. Cook on low for 8 hours. Before serving, remove bay leaves and use an immersion blender for a few seconds to puree a small portion of the soup, just enough to thicken. You can also remove 2 cups of soup from the cooker and puree in a blender, and add back to the soup.

This recipe makes 6 servings of 1 1/2 cups each.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Becoming Vegetarian

Over the past couple of weeks, my Meatless Mondays have turned into several meatless days in a row, and as a result I have been working on transitioning to a vegetarian diet. I already feel so much better. I am sleeping better and I am eating a lot more fruits and vegetables, which means I don't need my multivitamins anymore. That's plenty enough to make me want to eat this way all the time!

As a result, the recipes on this blog will be changing a bit, as I use meatless items to create them instead of meat. Of course, if you would rather have the meat, you can certainly use it -- most of what I post will be easily substituted because I do like to have fun with some of the "faux" meat products out there. So, if I'm using beefless beef crumbles, you can use a pound of ground beef if you'd rather, or give the crumbles a try -- it's up to you. :)

I hope you'll all still find this blog helpful, even if I'm not using meat.

Check the next post for an awesome meatless recipe. :)

Cornbread Topped Southwest Pot Pie

This is an easy and tasty Meatless Monday recipe with a healthy dose of fiber! :) And best of all, it's a "pot pie" with a cornmeal crust that cooks right in the slow cooker. The original recipe called for cooking the onion, carrots, and peppers in a skillet before adding to the slow cooker, but I didn't do this and it turned out fine.

Cornbread Topped Southwest Pot Pie
Adapted from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker

1 small onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1/2 sweet bell pepper, chopped
28 oz can pinto beans, rinsed & drained (or 2 smaller cans)
1 cup frozen corn
4 oz can diced green chiles
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup plain soy milk (or fat free milk)

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except the oil, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and milk. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours or high for 3 hours. About an hour before serving, in a large bowl, stir together remaining ingredients, spoon over ingredients in the slow cooker and spread evenly. Cover, turn slow cooker to high, and cook about 30 minutes to 1 hour or until crust is done. Serves 4 with 1 1/2 tsp of your healthy oils per serving.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

If you're looking for an easy recipe that you can toss in the slow cooker before work or a busy day and come home to a warm, homemade dinner, this one is perfect. You can dice your own potatoes and onions if you prefer, or you can use refrigerated, prepared diced potatoes with onions. (Be sure to check the ingredients list for added sugar or oil.) I apologize that this recipe doesn't have a photo -- I forgot to take it and the leftovers were gone before I could get one, but I wanted to share the recipe anyhow.

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

5 potatoes, peeled & diced
1 large onion, diced
(or 2 bags prepared diced potatoes with onions)
2 cups diced ham
3 stalks celery, chopped
15.25 oz can corn (not drained)
2 cubes chicken bouillon*
2 tbsp Blue Bonnet light margarine*
12 oz can fat free evaporated milk

Add potatoes, onion, ham, celery, corn, bouillon cubes, and margarine to slow cooker. Stir to combine. Add water to cover. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. Stir in evaporated milk and cook 30 minutes more.

This recipe makes 10 2-cup servings.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bulgur and Bean Chili

It's Meatless Monday! :) I have been trying to eat "meatless" on Mondays for a couple of months now, and I hope that some of my readers will join me in making one or two days a week consistently meatless. Why go meatless? Because if every American ate no meat just ONE day a week, it would be like taking more than 19 million cars off the road. That's a lot of energy and a lot of pollution!

This is a great chili for meatless Monday. The bulgur provides a texture similar to ground beef in the chili and thickens it up quite a bit. It's also very nutritious. If you can't find it, look in the natural foods section of your grocery store or in a health foods store. Whole Foods has it available in the bulk bins. I am posting my version of this recipe, because I made a few changes to suit my tastes. To see the original version, click on the link below the title. It was plenty "kicky" enough for me this way and would have been way too spicy with the original recipe. I also topped mine with a dollop of fat free Greek yogurt.

Bulgur and Bean Chili

Adapted from

1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 cups water
28 oz crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
3/4 cup uncooked bulgur
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 cup frozen corn
15 1/2 oz can black beans, rinsed & drained
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (fresh)
1/2 tsp fresh lime juice

Heat oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and pepper, saute until tender (about 5 minutes). Add chili powder and garlic and saute until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add water, tomatoes, bulgur, and salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in corn and beans and simmer, covered, 5 more minutes, or until corn and bulgur are tender. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and lime juice.

Makes 6 servings, 1 1/4 cup each.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Paula Deen's Jambalaya

Having lived in the south from age 9 to 22, I love some good southern cooking. As a result, a lot of Paula Deen's recipes appeal to me. But most of them aren't all that healthy. This one, however, wasn't that bad as written, and it was easy to improve its healthfulness -- I just had to be choosy about the brand of sausage I bought and substitute brown rice instead of white. I used short grain brown rice, since short-grain rice is typical of jambalaya, and Jennie-O smoked turkey kielbasa.

Paula Deen's Jambalaya

Adapted from

1 cup short grain brown rice
3 tbsp dried minced onion
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp beef bouillon granules
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I left this out)
1/4 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 cups water
15 oz can diced tomatoes (not drained)
8 oz can tomato sauce
8 oz Jennie-O Lean Turkey Kielbasa (rope style)
12 oz raw large shrimp, peeled & deveined

Combine all ingredients except shrimp in a dutch oven and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes or until rice is tender. Add shrimp and cook 5-7 minutes more, until shrimp are cooked through. Makes 4 servings of about 1 1/2 cups each.