Try this guilt-free comfort food

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One of the things I have come to love since coming to the South is red beans and rice. I’m not really crazy about beans, but the rich aroma grabbed me and stuck in my head until finally I had to make some for myself.

The only problem is, it is laden with andouille sausage, which has lots of fat, cholesterol, calories, and all the other stuff that isn’t good for you. But the sausage, friends say, is where all the flavor is.

So I tasked myself with re-creating the dish without sausage but with all the rich flavor. In my initial attempts there seemed to be something missing — that something that gave it just the right wow — until it finally dawned on me what it needed.

Now I can indulge in this comfort food with relish, and even my friends who swear by the sausage say they enjoy it, too.

My guess on calories is around 300 for 3/4 cup of rice and 1 cup of beans. Not bad for a meal that is pretty filling. You can add veggie sausage, field roast or tempeh, if you want the texture. I prefer mine without it. Just remember that will add to the calorie count.

Vegan Red Beans and Rice

1 small onion, diced

1 small bell pepper, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound small red or pinto beans

3 quarts water

1 quart vegetable stock

2 large tomatoes, diced (you can remove skins or not – your choice)

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

2 tablespoons paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon Chinese five spice

1-2 dashes liquid smoke

Salt and pepper to taste

Wash beans, place in a large crock pot with water and vegetable stock. Turn on high and cover. Saute onion, celery and bell pepper in olive oil until translucent, adding garlic just a few minutes before. Add vegetables to beans and layer in remaining ingredients (if you decide to add veggie sausage, field roast, tempeh, etc., wait until about 30 minutes before serving before putting it in the beans or it will turn to mush). Leave beans on high until it comes to a full boil, then reduce heat to low. Let simmer about 2.5 to 3 hours. Cook a 1-pound bag of rice according to package directions or however you like it.

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2 thoughts on “Try this guilt-free comfort food

  1. Cook rice according to the package directions. Set aside and keep warm. Heat a large nonstick pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer sausage to a bowl, and set aside. To the same pan, add bell pepper, onion, Cajun seasoning, thyme, and hot sauce; sauté 3 minutes or until onions are softened. Add beans and broth. Using a potato masher (or something similar), mash half the beans until mixture begins to noticeably thicken. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sausage, parsley, and salt; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Serve over cooked rice. Serves 4.

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