Crockpot Pinto Beans

I grew up in a very meat-and-potatoes household. Literally. I think most of my meals contained some sort of meat and that is exactly what I did when I became head cook of my own kitchen as an adult. I would have bacon with breakfast, a tuna sandwich for lunch, and pasta with meatballs for dinner. I was under the impression that meat was where all protein came from and I absolutely needed to get my protein in! Now I am a little older and a little wiser. 

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When I transitioned myself and my family to a strongly plant based way of eating, I didn't really have many ideas on how to make a balanced meal without meat. I mean, where the heck was I going to get protein if we weren't eating meat?! As it turns out, protein is everywhere. It's in meat, dairy, but especially in plants! Lentils, nuts, seeds! The list goes on and on! But my favorite was, still is, and always will be beans.

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     Beans were one of the very first plant based proteins that I experimented  with and I quickly fell madly in love with them. They are inexpensive, hearty, easy to cook, and downright tasty! Since then, I have found wild and amazing ways to work protein-dense beans into my diet (my protein packed breakfast brownies, anyone?). Yet, you can't outshine a classic and this recipe was one of the first to fan the flame of my love with beans. 

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I don't think I will ever tire of these crockpot pinto beans, and hopefully my family doesn't either since I make them several times a month. They are incredibly cost-efficient for weeks when you need to stretch your budget, easy to throw together in the morning before you embark on a crazy day, and excellent leftovers for lunches or dinners to go! Plus, the taste! The cumin, onion, bay leaf, and garlic in these beans just soaks into the beans as they simmer away for hours in the slow cooker. I love to throw these beans over cauliflower rice, into a burrito, or just pop them into my mouth directly from the bowl.

Adapted from 100daysofrealfood.com

Makes approximately 6 servings

2 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed

6 cups of water (or sub vegetable broth for extra flavor)

1 onion, peeled and halved

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon cumin

1. Throw all of the ingredients into your crockpot, stirring to combine.

2. Cook on low for 11-12 hours (alternatively, you can cook on high for 8 hours, but I prefer the flavor of the 12 hour beans)

3. Once cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove onion halves, garlic cloves, and bay leaf. Discard those.

4. Drain cooking liquid either using a slotted spoon or pouring beans through a strainer (careful, the beans will be very hot and you could be burned by the steam).

5. Serve immediately, store in fridge for a week, or in freezer for a month.