healthy slow-cooker recipe of the week: sausage and three-bean stew

Whether this recipe qualifies as healthy depends on whether you think sausage can be part of a healthy diet. I buy sausage that is made from local, organically raised turkey and free of preservatives. The sausage is slightly higher in saturated fat than skinless chicken breast, but way lower in fat than pork sausage. Plus at about a half-sausage per serving, you're not eating a huge amount of meat.

The sausage adds terrific flavour to the stew, and the combination of beans and meat make it very thick and hearty. If you can, get loose sausage meat, not in casings. If you can't, slit open the top of the casing and squeeze the sausage out of the tube.

4 turkey sausages (or 1-1.5 lbs of loose sausage meat) with Italian seasoning, sweet or spicy according to your preference
1 19-ounce can of white beans
1 19-ounce can of chick peas
1 13-ounce can of black beans
3-4 tomatoes, diced, or use 1 19-ounce can of tomatoes
2 medium or 1 large carrot, chopped
1 large onion, run through food processor
1 tablespoon dried oregano (or a bunch snipped from your garden if it's the season)
1 tablespoon dried basil (same as above)
fresh ground pepper

If you have actual sausages, squeeze the meat from the casings into a warm, nonstick skillet; if you have loose sausage meat, just put it in the skillet. Break the meat into small pieces and brown it. (Don't skip this step.) Add it to slower cooker.

Soften the onion and carrot in the same skillet, add to cooker.

Rinse and drain beans, and add to skillet. Add remaining ingredients, stir well to combine.

I didn't add any additional salt, because the sausage seasonings already contain salt. If you are used to saltier food, this may not be enough for you, so you could add a bit more.

Cook for 8 hours on low.

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