Easy Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Stew (Cooked)
Christmas and New Year’s can be such an emotional contradiction. When the holidays start, with Thanksgiving, I am overcome with feelings of warmth and excitement. I love cooking and having family near. I love the twinkling lights, the smell of pine and the excitement of Christmas approaching.
And then it starts. The mad rush to get everything pulled together. All of the presents, the reservations (my darling husband respects my need for snow at Christmas and we just don’t have that in the bay area), the decorating, the planning. It gets a bit stressful and crazy!
This year, we decided to drive 10 hours to Park City, Utah. My oldest daughter, Mia lives there and we haven’t spent Christmas with her and Ritchie, her fiancé, for 2 years. I was all set for a Park City Christmas.
When my youngest daughter, Kaia suggestion that we drive, I almost passed out. 10 hours in the car, in the winter, on I-80 which can get NASTY with snow and ice wasn’t in my plan. We started running the numbers (hours) of flying at Christmas vs driving, the fact that there were 3 of us and we would also have to rent a car on the other end plus she could bring her beloved dog, Tucker, it made sense.
As I watched the weather reports leading up to our departure, things started to become very ominous. A massive storm was heading our way just in time for our drive. It was just raining in the bay area but once we hit the mountains (only about 1 1/2 hour into the drive) the rain turns to ice, slush and then snow. The infamous Donner Pass can get down-right terrifying and close at a moments notice leaving you stranded on the road for hours. As we packed and prepared, I watched the radar and the storm alerts. It wasn’t pretty.
We decided to leave later in the morning to try to avoid the brunt of the storm. The plan was to get over the pass in daylight and then push to Winnemucca (half way) that night. We timed it perfectly. The storm was in far enough in front of us to not cause problems going over the pass. The rest of the drive was peaceful and uneventful. We got lucky.
The next day, we rose early anxious to get to Park City and get settled. I was amazed at what greeted us. There was a snow covered mountain right across the road. We came in in darkness and honestly didn’t even realize it was there! Who knew that in the middle of Nevada, there was such beauty.
We were at the tail end of the storm. The sky, light and landscape was a photographer’s dream. So stunning. I was shooting out the window going 80 mph and still coming up with beautiful images.
By the time we hit Salt Lake, we caught up with the storm. The assent to Park City was a white knuckle, I didn’t know if I should keep my eyes open or closed (I wasn’t driving…) kind of drive. I quickly understood why our daughter told us not to attempt to drive up the canyon on our own. It was dumping snow and the drive up to where our “cabin” was located was impassible even for our 4×4 with chains. Luckily our kids had snowmobiles and big trucks with big tires and chains or we would have been sleeping in our car the first night.
When we woke on Christmas morning, the views were breathtaking. Deep, snow all around. I was in heaven. I love winter. It is my favorite season. I love when the earth goes to sleep, the snow falls and the wind blows. I love the cold and at -16, I got that, too! Luckily, we were plowed out but it quickly drifted over. My future son-in-law showed up at the cabin door on his snowmobile. We were off to celebrate the wonderful season with our family.
I must admit that overall, driving wasn’t that bad. It turned out to be a gift. I knit a pair of socks, had wonderful bonding time with my daughter and husband and the views were amazing. You just don’t see this when you fly.
Bonneville Salt Flats
Easy Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Stew
Over the holidays, I rediscovered the slow cooker. After opening presents on Christmas day, I pulled out my daughter’s slow cooker, threw in a bunch of ingredients and we had a huge, delicious pot of chili for dinner. It’s so easy and doesn’t take a lot of time. Plus, it cooks all day, and magically has dinner waiting when you are ready!
We have an over abundance of sweet potatoes at the moment so last night, I decided to make a slow-cooker sweet potato stew. It was one of those grab and throw deals that turned out great. Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, black beans and apples come together with just the right seasoning and spices. There is even molasses and almond butter to bring all the flavors. Make it early, eat it later. My kind of meal.
Sweet potatoes are considered to be one of the world’s healthiest foods!
Why we love them:
- They have a profile of nutritional benefits including antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients.
- They are loaded with orange carotenoid pigments, responsible for vitamin A.
- They are an outstanding source of anti-oxidants.
- They have been shown to reduce the effects of heavy metals and oxygen radicals.
- They help blood sugar regulation.
- They have antifungal and antibacterial properties.
This recipe is part of our Cooked Collection
- 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 3 cups diced tomatoes (you can use canned or fresh. If you use canned, use the liquid, too)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 cups water (1 1/2 if you use canned tomatoes)
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1/4 cup molasses (optional but adds a nice depth of flavor)
- 1 1/2 cup quinoa
- 2 cup additional water
- 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
- 1 apple, 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 cup almond butter (see recipe here: Almond Butter)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper (or to taste)
- Place sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onions, tomato paste, garlic, 3 cups water (1 1/2 if you used canned tomatoes and their liquid), cumin, chili flakes and molasses in a 3 to 4 quart slow-cooker. Stir to combine.
- Cook on high setting for 3 hours.
- Add quinoa, additional water, black beans and apple.
- Cook for an additional 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in almond butter, salt and pepper just before serving.