Peppery Red Beans and Rice That’s Healthy-ish

A healthy bowl of Peppery Red Beans & Rice by!Of course red beans and rice are good, but did you know just how good they are for you? They’re a great source of fiber (a single cup offers 16 grams). They’re good for your heart (they help reduce cholesterol levels). Red beans are also an excellent source of protein, energy-boosting carbs, iron, magnesium, vitamin B1, and have more potassium than a large banana. Good, huh?

In the past, when I wasn’t totally caring about the food that I ate and how I cooked my meals, the first ingredient that went into a pot of red beans was a nice helping of bacon fat. The plop of frozen fat that I chipped away from an old butter container that I stored in the freezer slowly melted sending what was the start of an amazing aroma into the house. Then, the final ingredient that went into the pot of beans, most of the time, was  butter. Maybe half a stick, sometimes less.

Those are the greatest of ingredients to be eating especially when I’m doing this every Monday and eating multiple bowls throughout the week – I’m talking about a couple of bowls for dinner on Monday plus lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday. Along with the pork sausage I was packing on the pounds and as good as the food was, I was hurting my heart.

It’s no secret that I’ve changed the way I eat and prepare my food now. With the proper eating and exercising, I’ve lost 40-some pounds since the spring of 2016. (It’s January 2017 as I write this). This is the best I’ve felt in who knows how long. The majority of the time I’ve been living this healthier lifestyle, my wife and I have been using the BeachBody program, the 21-Day Fix. With the program, there’s a daily exercise routine and portion cups to help guide you along with a great food program. It’s all clean eating. Cutting down on the bad carbs, and taking care of yourself.

One of the first steps in watching what I was eating, was to fix the meals that I love and make them benefit me and my family. So, let’s start with my favorite New Orleans dish, my comfort food, my red beans and rice. They are already healthy in their own right, so why ruin a good thing? And the changes here are minimal. I’m only talking about swapping out the bacon fat for extra virgin olive oil, changing the smoked sausage with smoked turkey sausage, and eliminating the butter at the end. Well, there’s one more thing, I replaced the white rice with brown rice to round out the meal.

I still used the trinity, the spices, the herbs, the hot sauce, the ham bone, diced ham, and made one of the best pots of red beans I’ve ever had. I like the peppery flavor to my red beans, so at the end, I add extra pepper. With the use of the ham and the ham bone, I only add a pinch of salt at the end to keep the sodium low.

After eating a bowl or two of these red beans, I don’t feel guilty. I know that what I’m eating is good for me and the nutritional benefits of eating that Monday staple is adding to the overall health of myself and my family. This is red beans and rice done right, to borrow the term. This is how I red bean. I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe in the comments below. And if you want to talk about how BeachBody can help you, send me a message.

A healthy bowl of Peppery Red Beans & Rice by!

Brown the turkey sausage; set aside once they are nice and crispy.

A healthy bowl of Peppery Red Beans & Rice by!

Saute the trinity and garlic.

A healthy bowl of Peppery Red Beans & Rice by!

Add the remaining ingredients.

A healthy bowl of Peppery Red Beans & Rice by!

Nestle that ham bone in there.

A healthy bowl of Peppery Red Beans & Rice by!

This was after two hours. Needs a little more thyme… I mean time.

A healthy bowl of Peppery Red Beans & Rice by!

I kept the pot of red beans cookin’ longer to get to the thick, creamy beans that I like.


How do you red bean?

A healthy bowl of Peppery Red Beans & Rice by!PEPPERY RED BEANS & RICE

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lbs diced ham
1 lbs smoked turkey sausage, cut into 1/4″ pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lbs dried red beans, soaked in water overnight and drained
1 lbs ham hock
a pinch of salt and extra black pepper for flavoring
2 green onions chopped
1 cup hot cooked brown rice

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat and brown the turkey sausage; set aside. Add the onions, green bell peppers, celery, and garlic to the pot and cook until onions become translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the diced ham, bay leaves, dried thyme, oregano, basil, parsley flakes, black pepper, cayenne pepper, red beans and ham hock to the pot. Cover with water, about 5 cups.

A healthy bowl of Peppery Red Beans & Rice by!Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and cover the pot. Let the red beans simmer for about 3 hours – see note below. Occasionally stir to prevent the beans from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add water to keep the beans covered if needed. Cook the red beans until they become tender and fall apart when stirred.

Remove the ham hock and bay leaves from the pot and take the meat off the bone. Return the meat to the pot along with seasoning the red beans with a pinch of salt and extra black pepper, if desired.

To serve, place the red beans in bowls, top with brown rice and garnish with green onions. Don’t forget the hot sauce. Enjoy!

** as a note when I cooked these red beans: I simmered the beans for almost two hours and removed the pot from the stove. I had a couple of errands to run; when I came back, I put the red beans back on the stove and cooked an additional two hours on low. The red beans came out just like I like them: thick and creamy. If you want your red beans thick, cook them longer than the two hours that I have listed above.


If you’re on the 21-Day Fix and want to score this at home: I did two yellows for the red beans and one yellow for the rice. I think it adds up to 3 yellow containers, 1 red and 1/2 green. But correct me if I’m wrong. You can also serve a salad with this for a green or a fruit for a purple. Either one is a nice compliment to the red beans.

Tell us what you think of this recipe in the comments below.

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