Lightened Up Red Beans & Rice is Cajun comfort food in a bowl! Kidney beans, brown rice, veggies, & turkey sausage cooked low and slow in a delicious broth. Weight Watchers friendly recipe- 6 SmartPoints!
I am constantly craving the flavors of Louisiana. Something about the spices that just warms my soul! There are very specific dishes that I love to make when I have a major craving of Cajun flavors. My Lightened Up Red Beans & Rice is Cajun comfort food in a bowl! Kidney beans, brown rice, veggies, & turkey sausage cooked low and slow in a delicious broth. This is a Weight Watchers friendly recipe and each serving is 6 SmartPoints.
I have been a lover of Cajun food for many years. It all started with my first visit to New Orleans. While I was excited to explore the sites of the city, my main goal on that trip was to eat my way through New Orleans. And boy I sure did! I’ve gone to New Orleans many times now and each time I’m blown away by the food. Cajun food is something really special… delicious spices, warming to the soul, and made with love.
Some of my favorite Cajun inspired dishes I’ve made are my Chicken Shrimp Gumbo and Cajun Bean & Chicken Stew. A while back I had a particular craving for red beans and rice, so I knew it was time for me to make a Weight Watchers friendly version of this traditional Cajun dish. So what exactly makes my version Weight Watchers friendly? Instead of andouille sausage, I use turkey sausage. Also, I substitute brown rice for the traditional white rice. Not to worry my friends… even though this recipe is “lightened up”, it is packed with amazing flavor! It’s so good, you would never know that it’s healthy!
To start, slice up the turkey sausage. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat over medium high heat and add olive oil. Add the sliced sausage and sear until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pot and set aside. Add diced onion, celery, and bell pepper to the pot and sauté until the veggies are soft, about 8 minutes. Next, add minced garlic and sauté for another minute. Once veggies and garlic are tender, add tomato paste, Cajun seasoning (I use Slap Yo Mama), salt, pepper, and thyme. To make this recipe more kid friendly, reduce or omit the Cajun spices. Mix and let cook for about 3 minutes.
To the pot, add chicken stock, water, Worcestershire sauce, Louisiana hot sauce, cooked turkey sausage, and a bay leaf. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 2 hours. If you have time, let simmer even longer! While the stock is simmering, cook brown rice according to package instructions. After the stock has simmered, remove the lid and remove the bay leaf.
I like to thicken up the stock by making a cornstarch slurry. To thicken the stock, in a small bowl add two tablespoons of stock from the pot plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Mix with a fork until well combined. Add the cornstarch slurry to the pot and mix well.
Let cook for 5 minutes. Add red kidney beans and rice to the pot. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes.
Cajun comfort food in a bowl! Kidney beans, brown rice, veggies, & turkey sausage cooked low and slow in a delicious broth. Hearty with just the right spice! I like to serve this with Sweet Skillet Cornbread and top with chopped parsley and green onion. Less than 8 grams of fat and only 6 Weight Watchers SmartPoints for 1 ½ cups!
I hope you enjoy these *Cajun* bites of flavor!
Watch this 60 second video to learn how to make Lightened Up Red Beans & Rice:
Lightened Up Red Beans & Rice
- 2 Teaspoons Olive Oil, Divided
- ½ Large White Onion
- 3 Celery Stalks
- 1 Green Bell Pepper
- 13 Ounces Smoked Turkey Sausage
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 1 Teaspoon Cajun Seasoning, (I use Slap Yo Mama. Reduce amount or omit to less spicy)
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Pepper
- 3 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock
- 3 Cups Water
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- ½ Tablespoon Louisiana Hot Sauce, ( Reduce amount or omit to make less spicy)
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch, (Mix with 2 tablespoons liquid from the pot)
- (2) 15 Ounce Canned Red Kidney Beans, (I prefer Light Kidney Beans)
- 1 ½ Cups Uncooked Brown Rice
- Chopped Green Onions, For garnish
- Chopped Parsley, For garnish
- Chop onion, celery, and bell pepper and set aside.
- Dice sausage into ½ inch cubes and set aside.
- Mince garlic and set aside.
- Heat ditch oven (or large pot) over medium high heat and add 1 teaspoon oil.
- Add sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove sausage from pot and set aside.
- Add onion, celery, and bell pepper to pot plus 1 teaspoon oil.
- Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add tomato paste, Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, and thyme. Mix well and sauté for 3 minutes.
- Add chicken stock, water, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, sausage, beans, and bay leaf.
- Cover with lid, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours.
- While stock is simmering, cook rice according to package instructions.
- Remove bay leaf and discard.
- To thicken the stock, in a small bowl add two tablespoons of stock from the pot plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Mix with a fork until well combined. Add the cornstarch slurry to the pot and mix well. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and let cook for 5 minutes.
- Add rice to the pot and mix well.
- Garnish with green onion and parsley.
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