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February 2, 2011

Vegetarian Slow Cooker Red Beans & 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.

Posted by Dianne at February 2, 2011 11:13 AM

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I love red beans and rice! I just bought a new programmable slow cooker so I'm eager to try recipes in it. I will definitely have to try this.

I've been on Weight Watchers since last April (almost 40 lbs lost!) and I have to say I love it. Especially since they introduced the new plan in November. It has been the only 'diet' that I've been able to stick too. They are really trying to point you towards eating healthier things like fruits and veggies as well as lean proteins rather than the fake fiber enhanced stuff people (like me) tended to rely on with Momentum because they were low in points. I kind of struggled with the old plan when it came to eating healthier foods because they were worth too many points. Now that fruit and most veg are free, I'm definitely eating my 5 a day! One thing I really like about Weight Watchers on PointsPlus is that you can eat what ever you want as long as you hold yourself accountable. So I try to avoid the bad, fake substitutions and eat 'real' food without feeling guilty anymore.

Posted by: Heather B at February 2, 2011 11:21 AM

excellent post, Dianne! I agree with you on everything you said. I was on WW and, while it was a good start, I let my membership go. Now I'm trying to focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods. Even the vegetarian ones! my husband and I eat too many boca burgers and things like that.


Posted by: Moni at February 2, 2011 1:05 PM

My nurse practitioner mentioned they had revamped WW. Sounds like they headed it in the right direction!

I eat Boca Burgers on occasion myself. Most of the time though I just like to make veggie burgers on my own. I have a really great recipe for them: http://www.diannesdishes.com/2009/08/better-bites-vegetable-burgers.html

Posted by: Dianne at February 2, 2011 1:36 PM

I love your story and your tips. At my house we call them "creepy foods"- things you have no idea what they are or where they came from. Trying to eat whole things most of the time makes a big difference. I can't wait to try this recipe- thank you!

PS Have you read In Defense of Food? It's awesome!

Posted by: AnneStrawberry at February 3, 2011 2:24 PM

Hope you like it!

I haven't read that one yet, but I've been reading his other book. He has an amazing outlook on food and where it comes from!

Posted by: Dianne at February 3, 2011 2:47 PM

This looks delicious Dianne, I have been searching for flavoursome but healthy recipes. I made a great detox breakfast recipe on my website. Check it out. It is what I always eat when i'm trying to lose weight, and I must say, it really does work. Best. Cooking Fairy. xxx

Posted by: cooking fairy at February 9, 2011 11:38 AM

Thanks! I'll check that out!

Posted by: Dianne at February 9, 2011 1:44 PM

I am so inspired by your blog/message. Thank you so much!

Posted by: Noelle Markus at February 9, 2011 9:18 PM

Glad it spoke to you!

Posted by: Dianne at February 10, 2011 10:09 AM

I want to try the vegetarian diet but I am confused how it works. Can I eat chicken and fish once or twice a week? How does the diet work? Please help I need to loose weight to get off my diabetis and high blood pressure meds.

Thanks and Gods Bless,

Posted by: Darlene at October 31, 2011 7:48 PM

I want to try the vegetarian diet but I am confused how it works. Can I eat chicken and fish once or twice a week? How does the diet work? Please help I need to loose weight to get off my diabetis and high blood pressure meds.

Thanks and Gods Bless,

Posted by: Darlene at October 31, 2011 7:50 PM


I've never actually successfully gone without meat for more than a month at a time. I was able to go Pescatarian (eggs, fish and veggies, grains, etc.) for about 6 months, but after a while I crave meat. Lean chicken and lean meats a few times a week can be a healthy part of a diet. The rule of thumb is that the serving should be no bigger than the palm of your hand, or so I've read. Little steps are the key. Start small and then add other things. In the end it snowballs to where you want to be.


Posted by: Dianne at November 8, 2011 12:45 PM

This is a nice recipe idea. However, since I work 8 hours a day, is there a variation for cooking this for more like 8 hours (say on low?) Or would I end up with red beans and mush :(

Posted by: RebeccaK at February 21, 2012 10:54 AM


In theory that should work. I've never cooked it on low for that long, but I would think it would have the same outcome. It would be worth a shot at any rate!


Posted by: Dianne at February 21, 2012 11:17 AM

In response to Diane's comment in reply to Darlene on November 8 - You said that 'after a while you crave for meat'. When this happens you could always opt for vegetarian sausages instead of resorting to canibalism. After a longer while the gruesome 'cravings' eventually go away because it is just conditioning. Your response was a poor effort to someone who turned to you for vegetarian advice.


Posted by: Cathy Henningson at February 23, 2012 4:37 PM

I was relating my personal experiences with the subject. I am not an expert, and though I eat a lot of vegetarian meals, I am not a vegetarian.

Posted by: Dianne at February 23, 2012 8:00 PM

This recipe looks great! There aren't that many vegan slow cooker recipes out there that catch my eye, so my poor crock pot sits mostly unused. I'm excited to try this one out and love that it uses dried beans!

Posted by: Scrumptious at April 5, 2012 3:10 PM

how many people does this recipe serve?

Posted by: maryann at May 19, 2012 3:15 PM

It would serve 4-6 as a main course or 8-12 as a side dish.

Posted by: Dianne at May 19, 2012 5:53 PM

do you cook the rice first? sorry i'm a bachelor who's new to cooking.

Posted by: Steve at May 30, 2012 6:41 PM

Welcome to the world of cooking!

You don't have to cook the rice. You just put it all in the slow cooker and let it do it's thing. It's really good! Hope you enjoy!

Posted by: Dianne at May 30, 2012 7:25 PM

My beans didn't soften, even after overnight soak and 6 hour low setting slow cook. I guess I had had them around too long. I will say that if I try it again I'll add a quarter cup of olive oil at the end and some more salt.

Posted by: Agatha at June 4, 2012 10:32 PM

Hi Agatha! How long did you soak your beans? I try to soak them at least 20 hours. Also cooking times can vary from slow cooker to slow cooker, so it might need a longer time depending on your machine.

Posted by: Dianne at June 18, 2012 10:56 AM

That's really interesting. I never felt that way about WW because ultimately, you can eat whatever you want. I'm really just interested in the numbers, not the recipes. So, for instance, the first time I went on, I gave up aspartame at the same time and I lost 55 lbs.

Posted by: Dusty at April 16, 2013 12:30 PM

For me it was just irritating in general. The entire meeting they were talking about this and that that was chemical and not much discussion about actual healthy food. It was hard for me to get past the minutia of the meeting, though the program itself is solid.

Posted by: Dianne at April 17, 2013 9:29 PM

Hi Dianne,

Have you made this with white rice? The combination of brown rice and beans is too much fiber for my body at one sitting, but I'm concerned the white rice would overcook. Have you tried it?

It looks like a great recipe, and I'm eager to try it.


Posted by: Cindy_ at March 1, 2014 10:45 AM

I haven't tried it with white rice, I've used wild rice in place of the brown, but I would think the white rice, especially if it's the long cooking variety would work just fine.

Posted by: Dianne at March 1, 2014 12:51 PM

Question, can you make it on low too? I am hoping for a recipe that can go 10 hours.

Thank you!

Posted by: Denise at August 6, 2016 11:52 AM

I've never tried it that way, so I'm not sure. I think it might be able to go for maybe 8 hours tops. I would fear that 10 hours would end up drying it all out.

Posted by: Dianne at August 6, 2016 1:17 PM

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