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By: The Working Girl’s Kitchen

In celebration of Mardi Gras, I decided to take a stab at the well-known Creole dish of red beans and rice. I relied on Emeril Lagasse’s recipe, and substituted multiple items to make it healthier and more nutritious. The end result was wonderful – creamy, filling and full of flavor.

Kidney beans replaced red beans. Kidney beans are higher in protein and are packed with more minerals than their smaller counterparts, the red bean. I also used venison sausage, which is leaner than pork or beef sausages. And, finally, I substituted quinoa for white rice, which is packed with protein, iron, fiber and minerals.


  1. Soak kidney beans overnight. Rinse and then place in a pot. Boil in water for 60 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper and bacon. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme and sausage. Cook and stir for another 4 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the beans and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans become super soft, about 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Remove from the heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.
  7. Serve into bowls, and add a spoonful of cooked quinoa on top.


Serving size: approximately 7-8 servings

  • 1 lb dried red kidney beans, rinsed and sorted
  • 1 1/2 cups onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup celery, chopped
  • 3/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground peppercorn
  • 4 tsps dried thyme
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 3 tbs dried parsley
  • 1/2 lb of venison sausage
  • 3 tbs garlic, minced
  • 3 cups reduced sodium, fat-free chicken stock
  • 2 tbs canola oil
  • 1 cup dried quinoa, cooked