Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Red Beans and Brown Rice

I'm from Louisiana, so comfort food for me isn't necessarily mac and cheese or mashed potatoes; it's more along the lines of jambalaya, gumbo, and red beans and rice.  Over the years I have crafted my own clean-eating versions of these by abstaining from using broth, substituing brown rice for white, and relying on fresh, organic vegetables when possible. 

But since these dishes contain sausage, which falls right smack in the middle of my "you are or at least look like what you eat" category of foodstuff, I thought making them would forever include a nutritional compromise.

Well those days are over!  Thanks to the people at Al Fresco, who make this all-natural, 100% clean chicken sausage, my hometown favorites get a new life.  Granted, cajun purists will chastize me for not using andouille sausage, and I have to admit nothing beats the original.  But if you're jonesing for home but committed to eating clean, this is a great alternative!

I cooked up a mess of red beans and brown rice over the weekend to test my theory and it was pretty darn good if I say so myself.  And I say so.  What makes this Healthy Heather Approved is the reduction of oil, substitution of sausage, avoidance of canned beans, and the use of brown rice instead of white.  Brown rice has a slightly different texture, but I like the flavor better and it is better for you.

Even the quick-cooking versions - check it out!

Okay, here's the recipe.  It's gooooood! And good for you!  Note - this is not a low-calorie meal.  It is a healthy version of something not designed to be eaten in volume! :)

This expensive-but-worth-it
sausage is the secret ingredient!
Healthy Heather's Red Beans and Brown Rice
1 pound dry red beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
12 oz. Al Fresco chicken sausage (I used Italian), sliced
1 tbsp minced garlic
6 cups water
Thyme, pepper, sage, cayanne, whatever you like however you like it
2 cups brown rice, dry

Cook onion, celery, and pepper in olive oil until your house smells reaaaaally good, and then add to a large pot with the rinsed, soaked beans and six cups of water.  Bring to a boil and add the sausage.  Add seasonings, reduce to a low simmer and let it go, covered, all day.  Serve over cooked brown rice. This is seriously good.

Approximate nutritional content for 1 cup beans and 1/2 cup rice:
394 calories
6.4 g fat
62 g carbs
4.7 g protein

Bon appetit!


Christy said...

Ok, I'm a total clean eating newbie so I gotta know...why no stock? I've made what I consider to be clean jambalaya and gumbo but I've used stock and don't especially like sausage so it works for me.

Christy said...

Also, my word verification was just "forpee" Juvenile humor but I love it. ;-)

The (not so) Reluctant Athlete said...

ROFL, I laugh at that stuff too. Anyway, if you look at the ingredients of most store-bought broth and stock, it is not really just vegetable stock or chicken stock. They add preservatives and additives to extend the shelf life but that just inches them closer to being Frankenfood. I find that the veggies and seasonings add plenty of flavor and that extra stock is simply not necessary.

Christy said...

Oh my, you and Carole today with the store bought stock issues. LOL. Why not...make stock? Super easy and much cheaper. It also freezes forever just fine. And you'll be sure that the only ingredients are what you put in. Really, try it!

Anonymous said...

Christy, you forgot to tell her about the carcass......

Christy said...

Heather has done the super duper athlete challenge thingy (that I'm totally drawing a blank on the name right now) - I'm quite sure she can handle a chicken carcass.

I think you should both make stock this weekend. I double dog dare you!

The (not so) Reluctant Athlete said...

Ah, okay! A distinction! If you're making stock at home, go for it! I was referring to store-bought broth and stock, which more often than not is a lot more than just water that has had veggies and bones simmering in it. I usually do make my own stock and use it in gumbo, etc. but haven't recently due to a shortage of freezer space! LOL