SOUTHERN COMFORTS: Healthy jambalaya and collard greens make for tasty, mouth-watering treat

Jambalaya and collard greens – what’s not to love?

My spicy version of this Southern treat – with instant brown rice, no-salt-added tomatoes and chunks of smoked chicken sausage – turns this Louisiana comfort-food classic into a quick, healthy pick.

And my tender, succulent collard greens are just waiting to round out your plate and make your mouth water.

Pull up a chair and enjoy!

Chicken and sausage jambalaya

Makes 4 servings (about 1 ½ cup per serving)

The bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes make for plenty of flavorful veggies in this unbeatably easy and delicious dish. I studied the nutritional info and tasted numerous smoked sausages before deciding on Hillshire Farm’s Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage.

Spice blend

1 tablespoon dried thyme, crumbled between fingers

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

¾ teaspoon cayenne

1/8 teaspoon Crystal Diamond Kosher Salt

Blend spices together in a small bowl.

Chicken mixture

12-ounce piece boneless chicken breast, cut into ½ -inch chunks

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 (4-ounce) piece smoked chicken sausage, cut into ¼-inch chunks

Sprinkle ½ of spice blend over chicken.  Rub into the chicken.  Set rest of spices aside.

Heat Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat bottom of pan. Put chicken in pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add sausage and continue to cook for 1 minute stirring constantly. Remove pot from heat and spoon chicken and sausage into a bowl.

 (Photo courtesy of Delphotostock)

(Photo courtesy of Delphotostock)


1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped green bell pepper (1 medium pepper)

1 cup chopped red bell pepper (1 medium pepper)

½ cup thinly sliced celery

Cooking spray

2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped

Toss onion, bell pepper and celery together in a bowl. Lightly coat with cooking spray.

Return Dutch oven to stove over medium heat. Add vegetables and sauté until they begin to soften, about seven minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add garlic and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Rice mixture

3 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste

1 (14 ½ – ounce) can no-salt added diced tomatoes in juice

1 cup water

Bay leaf

1 cup instant brown rice, uncooked

Stir in remaining spices and tomato paste. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in tomatoes and water; add bay leaf. Bring to a full boil.

Stir in rice. Add chicken and sausage along with any juices and stir. Stir well. Return to a boil.  Cover and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf, fluff with a fork and serve.

Nutritional information per serving: 330 calories; 9g fat; 2g saturated fat; 70 mg cholesterol; 360mg sodium; 34g carbohydrate; 5g fiber; 9g sugars; 27g protein. Percentage of daily value: 50% vitamin A; 8 % calcium; 170% vitamin C; 20% iron.

 (Photo courtesy of Bert Folsom)

(Photo courtesy of Bert Folsom)

Slow-cooking collards

Makes 8 servings (½ cup per serving)

These low and slow cooking collards grab flavor from red onions and spices instead of ham or turkey.  The recipe makes what mom would have called a “gracious plenty,” which is perfect since it reheats perfectly. Refrigerate for a day or two or freeze in individual servings.


1 pound bagged, cut-up collard greens, stems discarded (about 16 cups)

1 small red onion, sliced (about 1 ½ cups)

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

3 cups water

¼ teaspoon Crystal Diamond Kosher salt

Apple cider vinegar, to taste

Put greens in a large colander. Rinse with cold water, shaking off excess. Do not dry.  Sprinkle onion, red pepper and garlic over greens. Toss to thoroughly combine.

Mound greens into large slow cooker.  Pour water over greens. Cook, covered, on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until greens reach desired tenderness. Stir in salt. Serve with vinegar.

Finally, don’t forget the juices! I still remember the look on my Northern husband’s face the first time he saw me drink “pot likker” – the juices left in the pot of greens. Drink up! There are nutrients in those soothing juices.

Nutritional information per serving: 25 calories; 0.0 g fat; 0.0 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 45 mg sodium; 6 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 1 g sugars; 2 g protein. Percentage of daily value: 80% vitamin A; 8 % calcium; 35% vitamin C.

Cooking questions? Email me at

Copyright 2016 Carla F. Williams All Rights Reserved