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Get healthy with Super Slow Cooker Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

While fighting a battle with a particularly vicious winter cold, I decided I needed to make a comforting soup combining as many super foods as my tastebuds would allow. Super foods are healthy foods, herbs and spices that are low in calories and high in nutrients.

I wanted my soup to be meat-free, so I looked for recipes with beans so I would still get some protein. I downloaded Deborah Oliver's "The Healthy Vegan Slow Cooker" ebook for just $2.99 and found a recipe for White Bean and Sweet Potato Stew that looked like a great starting point. It was!

To my version, I added cumin, dried thyme, curry powder and extra carrots. I like adding warm spices like cumin and curry to stews and soups because they add layers of flavor to slow-cooked vegetables. Also, I was cleaning out my spice cabinet and those spices were nearing their expiration dates. If you don't have these spices in your cabinet, it's not necessary to buy all of them. If you only want to buy one spice, go with the garam masala. If you want to use cumin or curry as your only spice, increase the amount to a tablespoon. I added extra carrot just to use up a package that I'd opened a few days before.

To his portion of stew, my husband, a lover of spicy food, added a couple dashes of hot sauce. My sister suggested adding sliced avocado as a healthy garnish. Next time I make the stew, I'll probably add another sweet potato and a couple parsnips. Feel free to use this recipe as a starting point to create your own super stew.

Super Slow Cooker Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

1 pound great northern beans (dried)

2 sweet potatoes, chopped into cubes

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 carrots, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/3 cup olive oil

1 14-ounce can vegetable broth

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon thyme, finely ground

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon garam masala

Quick soak the beans by pouring them into a large pot filled with 6 cups water and bringing them to a boil. Let boil for three minutes. Remove beans from heat and let them soak for one hour. Drain beans and place in the slow cooker.

Add remaining ingredients except the salt and garam masala to the crockpot. Add additional water or vegetable broth to cover ingredients.

Cook on high setting for 5 hours. Turn the slow cooker down to low setting, add salt and garam masala and cook for one more hour.

Stir and serve.

Makes six servings.

This recipe has been adapted from Deborah Oliver's White Bean and Sweet Potato Stew in "The Healthy Vegan Slow Cooker" book.