Lentil and Quinoa Chili in the Slow Cooker

Hi friends. Well with about three feet of snow on the ground (it snowed yet again yesterday) I have been looking for comfort food. To date, I have not been as healthy as I should be with snacks… This time, chili fits the bill so well with its satisfying heartiness and a touch of heat. The bonus with this recipe for Lentil and Quinoa Chili in the Slow Cooker is that it is healthy (and practically effortless) too! The recipe is actually vegan, although I like to add some grated cheese and sour cream so in that case it would be vegetarian. You could skip those toppings of course if you are following a vegan diet.

My vegetarian diet

I was a vegetarian for two years when I lived in California (definitely influenced by the Southern California get healthy vibe) before getting married. As Mr. SB is an avowed omnivore I have transitioned our household to more of a meatless Monday or even Tuesday, Wednesday type of diet.

Why? Plant based diets are so good for you even if you may need to plan a bit to ensure you are receiving all of the nutrients you need. Vegetarian recipes are also flat out cheap (meat is always the most expensive part of the grocery bill here) and so much better for the environment. I heard on a podcast recently that skipping meat for just one day of the week actually equals saving the carbon emissions for one cross country trip (coast to coast). Wow! Imagine if the entire country committed to at least a meatless Monday?

Benefits of lentils and quinoa

Often I find that some vegetarian recipes lack texture and sometimes I am still hungry – not this recipe for lentil and quinoa chili. It is full of texture and flavor. The combination of the nutty lentils and the quinoa which naturally thickens the sauce makes it super satisfying.

The recipe is full of health benefits too as both lentils and quinoa are considered superfoods. Lentils have been associated with improved digestive health, sustainable weight loss and healthy blood sugar levels. One cup of lentils has about 18 grams of protein and almost a full day’s worth of folate. A serving of lentils is also high in manganese and potassium. Quinoa is another superfood and is actually not a grain but is a seed. It is also a complete protein possessing all 20 amino acids which is key if you are following a vegetarian diet. One cup cooked quinoa also offers tons of health benefits.

How do you make lentil and quinoa chili in the slow cooker?

This recipe is one of what I call, “On my last nerve” recipes. I keep the ingredients on hand in the pantry. I use both black and red kidney beans for some variation. Cans of beans are fine but if you have pre-cooked beans that would work too. I like the Costco quinoa which is already pre-rinsed to save a step. Trader Joe’s chili lime spice is a wonderful addition if you have a TJs on hand. If not, regular chili powder works just fine and then feel free to squeeze some lime on top at the end. Basically you stir everything together and let it slow cook for eight hours or four on high. Add your favorite toppings. Mine include cilantro, lime, avocado and a small dollop of sour cream. So without further ado, here is the recipe. Enjoy!

Lentil and Quinoa Chili in the Slow Cooker

Hearty, healthy and just what you need on a cold winter's day. The recipe is vegan but you may want to add some sour cream, grated cheese too. Fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime perfect this protein packed, superfood-rich dish.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword budget friendly, lentils, Perfect Slow Cooker Pot Roast, Quinoa, Superfoods, vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Servings 8
Cost $5


  • Slow cooker


  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste or I like the tubes of past and I use two tablespoons
  • 1 15 oz can black beans drained
  • 1 15 oz can red kidney beans drained
  • 1 cup brown lentils uncooked
  • cup of quinoa
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder or if you can find it 1 and ½ Tbsp of Trader Joes Chili Lime powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • A pinch freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of water
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Sour cream guacamole, avocados, lime juice or other toppings you desire


  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
  • Add the onion and garlic and all ingredients to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  • Place a lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours (or low for 8 hours).
  • After cooking, the lentils should be tender. Taste the chili and add salt to taste.
  • Serve hot with your favorite toppings.

Instant Pot (no soak) White Bean and Ham soup

Hi there from snowy CT! We have about three feet of snow on the ground and it is still snowing…dreaming of summer days around here. Last weekend we headed up to NH to ski at Gunstock Mountain Resort which has the most lovely views of Lake Winnipisaukee. Yours truly was taken out a by a teen skiing out of control. Fortunately just a few bumps and bruises…I was worried about my knee but it seems fine a few days later (phew). Sunday, I decided not to ski (but still enjoyed my favorite apres ski recipe for buffalo dip) and instead made this perfect, easy, no-soaking the beans instant pot ham and bean soup. Trust me on this one – it comes out perfectly every time and not having to soak the beans saves time and allows this soup to be a last minute dish. So here is to snowy days and hot soup.

Tips to making no soak instant pot white bean and ham soup

I recommend Northern white beans for this recipe. You can use Cannellini or other white beans too but Northern beans really hold up well to pressure cooking. Also, this soup is very versatile. With my French husband, I tend to use a generous tablespoon of herbs de Provence. If you prefer though you could Italian seasoning or any mix of herbs that you like. I also recommend chopping the onion, celery and carrot roughly (mirepoix) for some texture against the creaminess of the beans. Lastly, if you want a vegetarian option, skip the ham, add more salt to taste and use vegetable broth instead of water. Serve the soup with some crusty bread and a salad and your winter day will be that much warmer!

Instant pot no soak white bean and ham soup

Super easy and relatively fast recipe as there is no need to soak the beans. Tender white beans in a rich stock and plenty of vegetables and salty bits of ham make a delicious and economical soup. Freezes well and heats up too for lunch or supper now or when you need it.
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American, French
Keyword Beans, Instant Pot, No soak beans, Soup
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 8
Cost 5


  • Instant Pot


  • 1 pound dried Great Northern White Beans picked over and rinsed. Cannellini beans would work here too but reduce the cooking time by five minutes.
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil olive or I like avocado oil
  • 1 white or yellow onion diced
  • 3 stalks of celery roughly chopped
  • 3 medium carrots peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of herbs de Provence or another seasoning mix you like such as Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ pound of ham or a ham hock bone (with some meat on it). If going for the vegetarian option then leave out the ham.
  • 4 cups of chicken stock or vegetable and 4 cups of water (if using a very meaty ham bone you may want 2 cups of stock and 6 cups of water as the ham will be salty).


  • Turn Instant Pot on sauté setting and heat olive oil in the insert.
  • Add onion, celery and carrots and sauté until starting to soften, a few minutes (keep an eye on it as they can burn if you are not careful…stir occasionally).
  • Add garlic, stir a few seconds until you can smell the garlic.
  • Then add herbs and bay leaf, stir and turn off the sauté function.
  • Add the dried beans to the pot along with the ham shanks.
  • Pour in the stock and water and combine gently.
  • Close lid and seal pressure cooker.
  • Cook on high pressure and set timer for 35 minutes. It will take about 25 minutes to reach pressure and then the timer will start. When finished cooking, let pressure naturally release for 20 minutes.
  • Manually release any remaining pressure, carefully open pot (only after all pressure is released).
  • If using a ham bone or shank, then remove ham shanks to cutting board and shred/cut meat into bite-sized pieces. Add back to soup and season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Serve with a salad and some crusty bread for a delicious lunch or supper.

Perfect Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Happy Monday! Did you enjoy the big game? I fell asleep after eating waaaay too many chips and queso as well as stuffing myself with my delicious (if I do say so) buffalo dip. I am not much of a football fan but I am 100% about the snacks! We have had so much snow in the past week in CT. I had all kinds of plans and frankly tossed them all, cozied up by the fire and read a book (After the War). As it was a lazy kind of weekend, I also had the good sense to make my perfect slow cooker pot roast which takes all of ten minutes to prep and then cooks all day making the house smell delightful and come dinner time – you have a delicious meal all cooked.

History of pot roast at the SB house

Apparently pot roast has been a staple in our family for decades. My grandmother made it every Sunday evening. My mom did too more often than not. I tried using the family recipe but if I am being honest, I must have done something wrong as it came out terrible (Mr. SB told me that, “he had limits”…when I served it to him). So after fiddling around with my slow cooker, I created this easy recipe which I have been making for at least ten years. It literally comes out perfect every time. It hardly qualifies as a recipe (as it is so simple to make) but you would not know it by the results. I think the secret is a bit of red wine and some rosemary both of which add so much flavor.

Steps to making perfect slow cooker pot roast

The first step is a good quality piece of beef. If you have been reading my blog for some time, you know I am a fan of Walden Local for grass fed beef from local New England farms. Pot roast at the supermarket is often called pot roast. Other cuts of meat that work are bottom round, round roast – really any of the less expensive, thick cuts of beef.

Root vegetables work so well with this too. I love turnips, potatoes and carrots. You will want to slice them all about the same thickness for the best results. Turnips and whole carrots are usually thin enough that I slice them in half lengthwise and then cut them again so I have four pieces from the original vegetable.

A few notes on the ingredients

The recipe calls for cream of mushroom soup too. I use the Pacific brand or Trader Joe’s as both brands are simply cream, mushrooms and salt. I recommend reading labels carefully if you go the standard supermarket route as some brands contain a great deal of preservatives. Perfect slow cooker pot roast also calls for a packet of onion soup. I like Simply Organics for a good brand (again without dozens of ingredients I can not pronounce!).

Lastly, a small tip is to lightly grease the slow cooker for easy clean up. I like to use Choice Foods spray avocado oil.

Grab a loaf of fresh bread and an easy salad and dinner is done!

Perfect Slow Cooker Pot Roast

No-fuss recipe for an unbelievably tender pot roast with a savory, flavorful gravy and perfectly cooked vegetables. Serve it with some crusty bread and a green salad for a delicious meal.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Beef, Crock pot, Perfect Slow Cooker Pot Roast, Slow cooker
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 9 hours
Servings 8 servings
Cost 10


  • Slow cooker


  • 1 3 to 4 pound Beef roast (chuck roast, pot roast, bottom round or other large, lean cut of beef)
  • 1 Container Cream of mushroom soup (see notes above on brands)
  • 1 Packet Dried onion mix (I like Simply Organics brand)
  • 4 Carrots Cut in half vertically and then again in half
  • 4 Parsnips Prepare as you do with the carrots above
  • 1/4 Cup Dry red wine
  • 1 Tbsp Dried rosemary leaves, crushed


  • Combine cream of mushroom soup, soup mix, dried rosemary, red wine and stir. Place mixture in the slow cooker (you may want to coat the slow cooker with a thin spray of oil for easy clean up).
  • Place roast on top of mixture and turn to coat so that all sides are lightly covered.
  • Place sliced vegetables around roast (I like to coat those too in the soup mixture).
  • Cook for 8 to 9 hours. Enjoy with a green salad and a fresh loaf of bread if you like.

Top Spaces to Organize in Your Home

Hi there! Phew, we had quite a snowstorm in CT yesterday with at least two feet of snow from what I can tell. How did you fare? With all of the time indoors, I have continued the decluttering and organizing and have more places to share with you along with a few tips and ideas. This is the second part of a two part series about top spaces to organize in your home. If you missed the first post, you can find it here.

Digital decluttering: email and files

Your digital space can be easily over run (I am looking at you 3,000+ emails in my unread inbox!). I find that being able to read the email without opening it is my downfall. So, I can see the “Thanks” reply so I don’t bother to open it. As I become busy, the emails just pile up.

I have taken a “look at it once” approach. When reviewing emails, right away I determine if I need to either delete it or put it in a folder. I like to organize folders by year or client/person. For example, I usually can remember an email by who sent it to me and the general time frame so this strategy works well for me. I recommend organizing by however you think. An easy way to deal with Gmail organizing when you want to delete emails is to do a search and then it allows you to delete anything in that search.

For files on your desktop, I like to do the same. I usually set up a year folder and then subfolders within such as:

Girls Activities

Clients (and then subfolders with each client’s name)

Financial (and then subfolders such as tax preparation)

You get the picture. This way, my desktop is clean and orderly which is a mood boost when I am getting started in the morning. Here is a screenshot.

How to organize your digital files
Organized inbox by calendar year

We also organize pictures the same way – by year and then month. This has worked so well as I can recall generally when a vacation or event happened so when I want to create a photo book or look back on a memory I know exactly where to look.

Also, do not forget to create back ups of any digital files. I like Microsoft One Drive for a cloud version. There are also free versions of Dropbox and other cloud storage that work well too. Nothing worse than having your computer malfunction and losing all of your work and other files!

Organizing your car

The car can be a magnet for clutter. If you have young children it may accumulate toys, empty wrappers from snacks and sippy cups. Older kids tend to leave sports equipment, books, water bottles and wrappers too. I seem to have an issue with reusable shopping bags multiplying!

The first step is to remove everything from the car. Give it a good vacuum and wipe down and then put back in what is really needed.

  1. Papers. Insurance cards, registration and if you belong to a Triple A, make a copy of that card and put in the glove box of every car so it is easily handy.
  2. Emergency water/snacks. I always keep water bottles in the car. I am not a fan of plastic bottles but this is the one place that I do keep bottles handy. Occasionally my girls will forget a water bottle for sports practice or as they head to school so keeping a stash is key.
  3. Shovel and ice scraper. If you live in a climate where there is snow and ice this is a must.
  4. Blanket. I always keep a blanket. This has been handy for kids becoming cold or even our pets.
  5. Trash bags. A store of trash bags makes it easy to keep the wrappers and other unwanted items at bay. When I get gas, I use the time to empty the trash if needed.
  6. Money. Have you ever found yourself wishing you had a spare $20 for ice cream or a cool drink? Or maybe the sports team is collecting money for the coach’s gift? I find a spare $20 in the glove box has been so handy.

Children’s art

  1. Children’s Art. As I mentioned, I did look into Artkive. I realized I can do the same with my own iPhone for much less money. To keep it manageable, I am taking a few pictures a day. I will allow myself to keep one small folder of originals. So far, it has been so much fun to review the girls’ art. With one recently off to college, it is bittersweet and seems like yesterday that she was at her little table painting with her glitter paints and making all kinds of projects! Eventually I will take the photos and make a collage on Shutterfly with the favorites. At any rate, I will have all of them stored digitally which is so nice!

So, I will leave you with one last thought. Organizing is like an exercise program. You do not just do it once and that is it. We move through various stages of life and that movement requires us to re-examine our possessions.

Start a new job working from home? Well the old job’s clothes may not be right anymore and it may be time to donate many of those formal clothes. You child is now in kindergarten? Toys that were once useful may not be in this new phase. You get the picture. Similar to an exercise program, it is wise to start out slowly. Tackle one area at a time. You have the year to do it.

Happy organizing!