our 90 day, bean-eating-plan worked :: we lowered cholesterol levels {flexitarian recipe}

Red Bean Jambalaya Recipe at West Street Story

Last weekend we were back in our hometown for a wedding on Graham’s side of the family.  It was a little rough as we sat down for every meal because in the back of our minds we knew Graham was going in for his cholesterol check on Monday.  Things such as, “No, dad, Graham DOESN’T need that extra piece of bacon” were said over and over again.  We didn’t really know how much a bad eating weekend would be on his outcome, but there really was nothing we could do about it when we arrived back home on Sunday full of bacon grease and buttery mashed potatoes.

In the end, even with a bacon-steak-like weekend, Graham received good news.  Over the past 90 days, he lowered his cholesterol from 247 to 202!  His doctor considers anything 199 or lower in the “okay, you are not going on medication” range, so now he is giving Graham a year before being checked again.  As long as we continue on this {mostly} healthy living path we have been going down, he expects Graham’s cholesterol to be right where it should be in the new year.

So what exactly is the “healthy living path” we have been on?  If you remember, back in July I went through our 90 day cholesterol-lowering plan.  Basically, we have been watching what we eat and have been trying to incorporate steady exercise into our daily routine.  In that 90-day-plan post, I went through how we were going to be focused on a whole foods, plant based diet.  But, not too long after that, I was finally able to coin the term as to what this actually meant.  We aren’t vegans or vegetarians, we are flexitarians {it’s a real thing, Google it}.

I am not going to lie, it has been a little more challenging to find new recipes, or even figure out what we will be having for dinner, when I no longer automatically think to just cook some chicken or beef as a part of the meal.  But, we have gotten much better at expanding our horizons and have been really good about putting non-processed foods into our grocery carts!  The produce section is our best friend.

Oh, and Graham has been very diligent about taking vitamins {something I have been doing religiously for the past four years as we have been trying — now Graham is finally into a vitamin-taking routine}.  After a lot of consideration and research {Graham was not about to take vitamins just to take them}, he decided upon Shaklee’s Vitalizer for men.  He loves them and says he is able to feel a noticeable difference since taking them {the healthy eating and exercise don’t hurt either, I am sure, but if he misses a day of the vitamins he can tell}.

A recipe I wanted to share with you today is one of our new go-to dinner options.  This healthy red bean jambalaya is so darn easy, so filling, can be easily adjusted for what we have on hand, and it makes plenty of leftovers {at least for our household of two}.  It certainly has become one of the “staple” dishes here on West Street.

Although I originally found this dish from a recipe in 1,000 Vegan Recipes, I have made adjustments to fit our tastes and needs {for instance, we do not normally have green chiles on hand, which the recipe in the book calls for}.  And yes, the recipes has literally two steps once you have the veggies chopped, it is so super easy {I cannot emphasize this enough}.  Also, feel free to sub in different vegetables.  I have also used green beans, peas, broccoli, and cauliflower to name a few.  I literally use what I have on hand!

Red Bean Jambalaya

Red Bean Jambalaya


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth


  1. 1. In a large saucepan {I like to use my dutch oven}, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, carrots, and garlic. Cover and cook until softened, about 7 minutes.
  2. 2. Stir in the rice, beans, diced tomatoes, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the broth, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are soft and the rice is tender, about 45 minutes.