Soul food: A healthier take on red beans and rice

Weather changes often produce changes in the types of food we crave and eat; learn how to make a filling soul food classic that’s perfect for the fall weather.

Several changes have notified us that our eating habits are about to change: the crisp air, the kids returning to school and our gardens taking on a different look. These are all signs that fall is here. With the cooler temperatures, we tend to eat more carbohydrate-rich foods. One of my favorite “fall-filling” meals is red beans and rice.

This following health-conscious recipe will make 12 servings:


1 pound of red beans                                                                         1 tablespoon of minced garlic

1 cup of smoked turkey ham, low sodium, diced                        ¼ cup of green pepper, diced

1 cup diced onions                                                                              1 teaspoon salt substitute (optional)

½ teaspoon black pepper                                                                   12 cups water (6 cups for the beans; 6 for the rice)

2 beef bouillon cubes, no-sodium

3 cups regular or extra-long grain rice (white or brown)


Sort out the bad beans and debris. Rinse beans and let soak in water overnight. Drain beans. Simmer the beans, smoked turkey ham and the rest of the ingredients in the 6 cups of water until the beans are tender (not mushy) but still whole. This may take about 45 minutes.

Heat the rice and 6 cups of water to boiling in 6 quart sauce pan over high heat. Reduce heat to low and stir mixture. Cover pan and simmer without stirring or lifting the lid, about 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Brown rice will take slightly longer to cook. Fluff rice with a fork.

A serving of beans is approximately ½ cup; a serving of rice is also ½ cup.

I like to have sliced onion, corn bread and sliced tomato on the side of my red beans and rice, but I encourage you to try different sides with yours. Enjoy!

For two more fall-filling recipes that incorporate red beans, see the United States Department of Agriculture’s Household Commodity Fact Sheet.

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