Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Allison's Recipes

Allison told me that she cooks with a lot of beans at her house. Smart girl. Not only are they nutrient-dense, meaning they have much nutrition for few calories, but they are also a very economical way to cook. Try including a few vegetarian meals each week and watch your grocery bill start to lighten up (pun intended there folks).

Everyone ... meet Allison!

In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t feel remotely qualified to talk about food and/or nutrition. Yesterday was not one of my better days in terms of making good food choices. Both my husband and I are from South Louisiana, and our beloved Saints were in the Super Bowl. I spent most of the day in the kitchen making some of our favorite Louisiana dishes, none of which were particularly healthy.

The following recipes are two that I make frequently. I am trying to move my family’s diet towards one that is more plant-based, primarily because I believe it is better for us and more affordable. We do still eat meat, but only a few times a week. Luckily, everyone (including my two children, ages 4 and 2) likes beans, so we have them at least once a week. We tend to eat relatively healthy meals -- lots of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes, and I try not to buy much processed food. I read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle several years ago, and, based on those books, I have been working at changing how my family eats.

However, I still struggle with my weight. I weigh about 30 pounds more now than I did before I got pregnant the first time just over five years ago. I exercise regularly and try to make good food choices, but I have two major food issues: (1) portion control and (2) emotional eating. I’m working on making better choices, both in what I eat and how much I eat, but it’s not easy. I know what I need to do, I just haven’t been able to make myself do it.

Red Beans and Rice

1 pound dark red kidney beans
6 cups water (or 4 cups of water and 2 cups of stock)
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups finely chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 cups of steamed rice

Rinse the beans and place them in a large saucepan. Add the water, bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover it and let the beans soak while preparing the other ingredients. Place the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, black and cayenne pepper in slow cooker. Add the soaked beans and stir to mix. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 3 1/2 hours, or until beans are tender. Remove about 1/4 cup of beans from slow cooker to a small blow. Mash to a smooth paste with back of spoon and stir them back in. Cook on low for about 30 more minutes or on high for 15 minutes. Serve over steamed rice.

Black-Eyed Peas and Rice

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
Bay leaf
1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
Salt, black pepper, and cayenne
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
3 cups steamed rice

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for 4 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the peas are creamy and tender, stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock. Adjust seasonings, and garnish with green onions. Serve over rice.

Note: I have made it before with one can of black-eyed peas. To do that, reduce the amount of stock by half, and let the peas cook for about 20 minutes, instead of 40.


  1. These recipes look great Allison - thank you! I've never made anything with black-eyed peas so I look forward to trying your recipe :)

  2. YAY Allison! :) Thanks for posting! How did you get connected with momastery/full at last?


    YOU ARE SO DARN CUTE!! In honor of YOU, I am going to try this recipe. I will have to wait till Craig gets home because he is better with the fire extinguisher, but we will tackle it together.

    GO SAINTS!!!!

  4. Oh...remember the day we gave a number of where we're at on the scale of 1-10? Today, I'm a negative 5.

  5. Hi all!
    This busy lawyer mom has been REALLY busy and out of the loop for the last week. But I am pleased and excited to be back and even more excited to find 6 new recipes to try this week, as soon as I find time to stop at the grocery store, do valentines day cards for my 2.5 year old's preschool class and get some sleep.

    I love that these recipes all look so easy and fast, good things for us. My 2 year old and husband love black beans and rice, so I'm excited to introduce these new recipes too!

    Erin, glad the kiddos are doing better and are home.

    Kelly -

    P.S. can someone tell me how the heck I can post with my name instead as Anon?

  6. oh and lifewithlove, I hear you. I worked until 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, so no grocery shopping. I stopped at the store at 8:00 last night and husband and I had frozen pizzas and wine for dinner. I think that's a negative 5 meal for sure.....although I did adequately heat the pizzas in the oven, and I only buy good wine, so maybe that gets me to a negative 2?

  7. I forgot to mention this in the recipe: the red beans freeze well. Since we're a relatively small family, we generally can't eat all of a recipe that serves 6 or 8 before we get sick of it or it goes bad. Because of that, I try to make things that freeze well, like soups and beans. So, we're having red beans tonight, but all I have to do is make the rice. Yay! I've never tried freezing the black-eyes, but I'm guessing they'll freeze well too.

    Also, depending on your family's preferences, you can substitute white beans (cannellini or navy) for the red beans.

    I hope those of you who try the recipes like them -- I'm a little nervous!

    Dana, I was introduced to Momastery over the summer by Amy. Is that how you found it?

  8. Kelly, you need some kind of account to comment other than anonymous. See the box that says "comment as:" then you can select from there...do you have any of those accounts? If so, you can put in your user name/password and you'll be logged in through there.

    Allison...I posted on FB recently asking what people really liked in a blog and someone mentioned momastery....I don't even remember who but I don't think it was Amy?

  9. Allison, I can't wait to try your recipes and I, too, am a big fan of freezing things. I think almost anything freezes ok, with the exception of cooked pasta which gets kind of gummy.

    And Dana it's okay to be a negative 5 some days. We have to remember to not beat ourselves up on those days because we are still doing the best we can. The more we are able to give ourselves permission to have a bad day here and there the less likely we are to have multiple bad days in a row. When the self-loathing starts it's hard to pull yourself up by the boot straps, put it behind you and move on and have a better day b/c you get mired down in the muckity-muck. So, if you can say to yourself, 'hey it's just a bad day, no big deal, it doesn't make me a bad person/mother/wife/whatever, the easier it is to be positive the next day.' Does that make sense? It's not that you are giving yourself permission to throw in the towel at all, it's just that you are recognizing that every day can't be a banner day and you are moving FORWARD rather than wallowing in what's already happened.

    Progress ... not perfection.

  10. Ahhhh, isn't that what keeps coming to me in this season...progress...the journey...blah, blah, blah! :)

    My new motto is "Struggling Forward"...

    If I remain overweight and do nothing about it, I will struggle with body image & health, guaranteed! If I do something about it, it will still be a struggle in one way or another but at least I'm...struggling forward. Thanks Erin...

    And that giving myself permission kind of thing is a new concept. I think I'll try it again tomorrow and just kind of savor eating that fudge instead of loathingly eating it! :) KIDDING!!!