Usually I feel as though there is a little Sunday night madness in our house: A busy weekend, supper, playtime, dogs barking, bedtime routine, getting the kids bags packed for the dayhome, lunches prepped for the husband and I, and prepping/planning tomorrow’s supper meal to avoid hunger cries when we get home…did I mention breathing? Sometimes it doesn’t seem like there is enough time for that. This weekend was the May long weekend, therefore, Monday night madness! My meal planning has been more of a challenge the last week or so due to my return to work, but I am sure we can all agree that every week can be considered a challenge when you are a family on-the-go.
I have opted to start my week with a slow cooker meal so that there are plenty of leftovers and we can use up some brown rice from the other day. My husband loves sausage…loves shrimp…and loves chicken. Need I say more? Jambalaya is such a great conduit to use up odds and ends, while making a balanced meal. However, it can become a meal high in fat and cholesterol if you don’t shop wisely. Choose lean chicken breast (trim any extra fat), compare sausages to find one with less fat and salt (mine was 4% fat, 11% salt – occasionally you may do better with a turkey sausage), and go easy on the shrimp! Adding extra veggies, pairing it with brown or whole grain rice, and portion control are also important to keeping this meal out of the red. There are a lot of great recipes on the internet! I am partial to The Food Network’s recipe ,but I always seem to make some modifications to fit what I have to use up, accommodate what my family likes, or boost the nutrition wherever I can. Here is my adaptation for your slow cooker:
- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 375g MSG free Kolbassa sausage, diced
- 1 796ml can no added salt diced tomatoes (or 3-4 large fresh tomatoes if you have)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, diced * can include the ribs/seeds if you like your jambalaya extra spicy
- 1 ear of corn, remove niblets with a knife
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 cup of no added salt canned black beans, rinsed
- 2 – 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 454g frozen peeled and cooked shrimp, thawed
- Serve with cooked brown rice (1/2 cup is one grain serving)
In a slow cooker, combine chicken, sausage, tomatoes, onion, green pepper, orange pepper, corn, celery, jalapeno, and chicken broth. Stir in oregano, Cajun seasoning, hot sauce, bay leaves, and thyme. I usually dice my chicken and put it in a food-safe container, and mix all my other ingredients together in a second container the night before so that I can transfer them to my slow cooker in the morning.
Cover and cook on LOW for 7 – 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours. Stir in the thawed shrimp then cover and cook until the shrimp is heated through This should be about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Makes 8-12 servings to be spooned over brown or wild rice. It is also a freezer-friendly recipe so you don’t have to eat all the leftovers at once.
Melissa Lachapelle, Registered Dietitian