A healthy balance; slow-cooker beans and rice

adam laff
One of the “big” reasons I want to enjoy a healthy “older age,” our grandson, Adam.

People magazine’s Harley Pasternak wrote this week about an Iowa high school science teacher who lost almost 40 pounds, eating only at  McDonald’s for 90 days. (That’s 2 months longer than documentarian Morgan Spurlock, who made “Super Size Me” about his experience.).

The secret, said Pasternak, was this dieter’s sense of balance. He ate everything on the menu, but when he devoured a gazillion carbs and fat grams, he compensated with a salad at the next meal. He never went over 2,000 calories a day and he walked 45 minutes daily.

Balance is tough. For those of us food addicts, nearly impossible. Rather than calmly saying to ourselves, we need to chill on the next meal, we release our Inner Kracken, that hysterical monster saying, OK, you blew it, might as well, blow it bigger! And we, I anyway, impose fake deadlines: I’ll eat all night tonight but in the morning, I’ll be back on track.

Whom are we kidding?

We must be able to do as the McDonald’s dieter who says to that inner goober: OK, that was a little over the top. I need to take it easy for the rest of this day, now! And I need to go outside and walk or go to the Y.

None of these is easy. My inner goobers are all slow-motion sloths, except when it comes to overcramming my face with food. Yesterday I flogged myself to the Y for my first chair yoga class, sneering all the way: How is this going to help anything?

Of course, it helped everything. I felt stretched and loosened, pleasantly fatigued, and, most of all, a sense of goober mastery. And — yay, me! — before I drove the 35 minutes to the Y, I threw these beans into the slow cooker to eat over rice for supper.

I’ve had Cooking Lite Best Ever Slow Cooker Recipes (2012) for more than a year. I was less than impressed at first glances but have since given it another, longer look. I’m drawn to the many seasonings meant to distract us from lack of fat and carbs. The Braised Turkey (thighs) and Asian Vegetables, for instance, is flavored with not only vegetables but also 5-spice powder, dark sesame oil, fresh ginger, soy, hoisin and oyster sauces.

Preparing supper at the last-minute with this many ingredients would be exhausting (to me anyway). But doing it in the mornings when I feel human and letting it perfume the house all day is the bee’s knees.

Red beans and rice

3 cups water

1 cup dried red kidney beans, rinsed

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped sweet bell pepper

3/4 cup chopped celery

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon paprika (I used 1/2 teaspoon smoked instead)

3/4 teaspoon cayenne (I used 1/4 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

7 ounces (half a package) “lite” turkey, pork and beef smoked sausage, thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

5 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

1/4 cup chopped green onions

Combine everything BUT salt, rice and green onions in slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 5 hours or LOW for 8. Discard bay leaf, stir in salt. Serve bean mixture over rice; sprinkle with green onions.

Makes 4 servings (1 cup bean mixture, 3/4 cup rice and 1 tablespoon scallions) at 413 calories and 2.5 fat grams each.

My Louisiana girlfriend would probably argue for Cajun seasoning on this dish but the garlic-onion-thyme-cayenne is good, too.
My Louisiana girlfriend would probably argue for Cajun seasoning on this dish but the garlic-onion-thyme-cayenne is good, too.
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