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Now that I’m a married southern woman I decided it was time to take the plunge and get a crock pot.  I was curious because I had been seeing so many cool looking crock pot recipes on Pinterest.  I usually cook from scratch every night.  But after working all day and an hour at the gym, sometimes we don’t end up eating dinner until 8 or 8:30.  So I decided that having a crock pot would help on some of those days when I wanted to make a dish that took a little bit longer, but didn’t want to eat so late.  I can just put it on in the mornings or when I come home for lunch, and it’s ready when I get home from the gym.  I usually do alot of sauteing rather than things that have to bake or roast because they take so much longer and I’m usually starved when I get home.  Now we can do more ‘longer cooking’ kinds of things.  PLUS…when we have a baby there’s no way I can keep up the schedule I have now AND cook healthy meals every night.  So I figured I should get well acquainted with the crock pot before baby comes along.  Not that we are actively trying to have a baby…but it’s in the not-so-distant future 🙂 

 Anyhoo,  most  crock pot recipes are either 1) meaty or 2) cheesy.  Both of which I don’t eat very often.  So I decided to start experimenting with healthy versions of my own recipes and others that I’ve found on Pinterest.  

 If you keep up with me and my eating, cooking, recipe-following habits, you know that I’m notorious for NOT following recipes.  I change up ingredients or seasonings as I see fit.  

 

 So HERE is the original recipe for the first thing I made in the crock pot.  Below is what I did instead 🙂

 

HEARTY BLACK BEAN AND KALE STEW

1 lb dry black beans – soaked over night then rinsed and drained **

5-7 kale leaves – spine removed and torn into small pieces**

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with the juice – or 2 regular cans

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

7 cups water – I used 4 cups vegetable broth and 3 cups water

1 small sweet onion – diced

1 green bell pepper – diced

a few dashes of ground cinnamon

1-2 tablespoons garam masala (an indian seasoning that is a mix of coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom)**

2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic 

a few dashes of garlic powder and onion powder

a few dashes of ground red pepper or red pepper flakes (I couldn’t find the dried chipotle peppers at Publix)

salt and pepper

chopped fresh cilantro and chopped avocado for garnish

 

Directions: 

place all ingredients in crock pot and stir to combine

cook on high first hour then reduce to low for 6-7 hours

the original recipe says you can do 4-5 hours on high if you want less cooking time

 

**NOTES: 

1)  I used dry beans and did not soak them…as the original recipe didn’t call for it.  Turns out, the beans weren’t soft after the allotted cooking time and I had to crank it up to high and let it go much longer.  I’d recommend either soaking your beans overnight OR using canned.  

2)  Also, the original recipe didn’t use near enough seasoning.  I ended up adding alot more to get more flavor and kick in the end!  

3)  If you have time, I think it would be beneficial to saute the onion and bell pepper in a separate skillet before putting it into the crock pot.  It goes against my nature to throw raw bell pepper and onion into a soup without sauteing first.  I think the flavors come out better if you saute first.  

4)  I was out of coriander so I used garam masala and loved it.  I would’ve added cumin and cardamom anyway so I think it’s a good blend to use.  Just experiment with different seasonings.  You can always add chili powder and more cumin to make this more of a southwest feel but I was going for a more indian/mediterranean feel! 

5) the first hour on high isn’t necessary but I think it might help

6) kale wasn’t in the original recipe but I LOVE it and put it in everything.  You can experiment with all kinds of veggies in this. 

 

 This is a very fall/winter dish but I couldn’t resist it.  We even served it with homemade vegan pumpkin spice ice cream afterwards.  I’ll post that recipe soon! 

 Here’s a pic of it before I started it up…I didn’t get one of the finished product 😦

Post comments if you cook this and let me know how it turned out!

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