Your whole food, plant-based life.

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.


Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Stew with Black Beans Quinoa and Apples!


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.


Driving Across Nevada


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.


Tollgate Canyon


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.


Salt Flats

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.


Share Via
Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends



  1. Lois wrote on January 5, 2016

    I am so excited to try this recipe–tomorrow! I live south of Park City in Cedar Hills, and we did have a beautiful white Christmas; I’m glad you were able to enjoy it. Thanks for the recipe and the photos.

    • Susan wrote on January 5, 2016

      Hi, Lois, You are so lucky to live so close to Park City! I just love it there. You are welcome for the recipe and photos! Enjoy the stew and thanks so much for saying “hi”! Happy New Year!

  2. Shannon wrote on January 5, 2016

    Wow! What a wonderful recipe and I love how you added Almond butter, apples and molasses! Mouth watering, yum! And what is great also about what you have created is that I have all the ingredients in my kitchen! So smart! Thank you Susan!

    • Susan wrote on January 6, 2016

      You are welcome, Shannon! I am glad you have the ingredients. I think you will really like this one!

  3. Laura wrote on January 5, 2016

    Susan thanks so much for sharing your holiday adventure and thanks so much for this wonderful recipe. I can’t wait to try it. I was thinking about investing in a slow cooker but I don’t know which one to get as there are so many to choose from. I’m not looking to break the bank but I believe in good quality.
    Do you have any suggestions? I really appreciate your work and look forward to your next delicious recipe. Happy New Year! Xo

    • Susan wrote on January 5, 2016

      Hi, Laura! There is a link in the sidebar to my favorite slow-cooker. Just click on the picture and it will take you to where you need to go. Happy New Year!

  4. Ani wrote on January 5, 2016

    Gorgeous photos! ! Enjoyed reading about your trip. I will be making this tomorrow. Thanks!

    • Susan wrote on January 5, 2016

      Thank you so much, Ani! I love photography and am so happy to share. Enjoy the stew! 🙂

  5. susan wrote on January 5, 2016

    Hi Susan, I really enjoyed reading about your trip! It sounds like like it was so beautiful, I almost felt like I was there and I enjoyed that so much. I agree the crock pot creates a cosy feeling dinner and the smell is wonderful. I agree with your philosophy that cooked is good as well as raw. Winter is a great time for some cooked meals and the crock pot is great! Please keep your cooked recipes coming, I love those too! I also love your hibernation idea, and I too hate when we get to the insanity phase of Christmas when people run around stores buying for the sake of buying. I also think everyone needs the hibernation period at least once a year, but your idea of one in summer also would be even better. I love your emails, and I give your website to people on a regular basis, and tell them about you and your work. Thanks for all your work! Susan

    • Susan wrote on January 5, 2016

      Oh my gosh, what a wonderful comment! thank you so much. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your sharing the website. It is the best thing possible. 🙂 I think we should start a national hibernation day…lol. Happy New Year!

  6. Aging Ophelia wrote on January 5, 2016

    Lovely pics, and I look forward o trying this recipe in the week ahead, having most of the3 ingredients on hand just now. I use my slow cookers all year round, for so many dishes.

    • Susan wrote on January 5, 2016

      So glad you like it! I love the slow cooker. I feel like I am somehow cheating! Dinner is ready and I didn’t have to spend a ton of time putting together a meal at the end of the day when I am tired. Cheers!

  7. Lexa wrote on January 5, 2016

    Can this be cooked in a regular pot? Or does it have to be in a slow cooker? I can’t wait to give it a try. Sounds heavenly and sweet potatoes are my favorite food. I eat them so often! 🙂

    • Susan wrote on January 5, 2016

      Hi, Lexa, Yes! You can cook it stove top. It will just take a lot less time. Use a lower heat, a heavy pot and reduce the cooking time. It would be good to have a pot with a lid. Check after 2 hours for the first stage and make sure you stir more often. Cheers!

  8. alohayall wrote on January 5, 2016

    Beautiful! I can’t wait to try this recipe! And what a fun adventure! I grew up in the bay area then moved to Utah, south of Park City. We now live in St. George UT, which is another jewel of the Utah scenery. You’ll have to try southern Utah next time! And thank you for posting a cooked recipe. Sometimes I feel stressed and overwhelmed trying to eat raw all the time and these posts remind me that it’s ok and eating cooked food is still good for my body.

    • Susan wrote on January 5, 2016

      I have a new appreciation for driving across the country! We will definitely check out southern Utah. I am sure we will be doing the drive many times! It will be fun to explore! My philosophy is that both raw and cooked are beneficial and I am thrilled that you are enjoying the cooked recipes, too! Thanks so much for letting me know. 🙂

  9. Annette wrote on January 5, 2016

    I’m going to make this I have most of the ingredients at hand.
    Those pictures are absolutely stunning I’m not a winter person but I will say this I appreciate the Majestic View it’s breath taking!

    • Susan wrote on January 5, 2016

      Thank you, Anette! I am so glad you liked them. And enjoy the stew! It has become a fast favorite around here. 🙂


Post a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

ooter(); ?>