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  • Writer's pictureShirley's KC News

Cooking with Shirley's KC!

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

Guest writer Chef Shanita McAfee-Bryant

Once a week, I clean out my refrigerator to prepare for my next shopping trip. Usually, I make a pasta dish; however, after sheltering in place for the past year, I have had to make a few adjustments to my eating. Rice, while still a carb, is a slightly better choice than pasta.

Some fun facts about rice:

Rice is a staple in more than half of the world population and a cornerstone of southern cuisine. Its versatility allows you to eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Did you know that there are over 53 grams of carbohydrates in a single serving of white rice and only a tiny amount of that carbohydrate comes from fiber? Most of it is starch and a small amount is a sugar.

Rice can serve as a good source of B vitamins (including thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin) and iron; it is also an excellent source of manganese and magnesium.

Brown rice provides more vitamins than white rice. In addition to thiamin and magnesium, brown rice contains selenium, which influences thyroid function and is essential in antioxidant processes.

So, if you choose a healthier variety of rice such as brown rice, basmati or Jasmine — it can be part of a balanced diet! I would avoid Asian rice or sticky rice; they tend to be glutinous.

Let’s Get Cooking!

Jambalaya is a Creole dish with West African (Jollof) and Spanish (paella) flavors and a slight French influence ( jambalaia). Traditionally, it has smoked sausage and a "holy-trinity" made up of pepper, onion and celery. For me, this dish speaks to the complexity of the food influence in New Orleans. A melting together of all of the area's cultures creates a rich dish in flavor and history.

This particular recipe does not list any protein because I wanted it to be budget-friendly. You can use almost any protein that you may have or not at all. It is quite filling and tasty as a vegetarian dish. Please feel free to add whatever tickles your fancy!

Classic + Quick + Easy Jambalaya

By Chef Shanita


1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow or orange bell pepper

1 rib of celery

1 jalapeno

4 cloves of garlic

1 white onion

1 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 box low-sodium stock

2 cups long-grain rice

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons creole/cajun seasoning

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil


  1. Dice all vegetables and sautee in oil for 1-2 minutes until soft

  2. Add rice and garlic and sautee for about 1-minute until rice is coated

  3. Add crushed tomatoes, stock and all seasonings

  4. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes covered

  5. Stir occasionally so the rice won’t burn


  • If you add uncooked chicken, sautee it with the same vegetables with smoked or andouille sausage.

  • If you add seafood, shrimp, or crab meat then wait until the last six minutes to add them so you don't overcook them.

  • If you love okra — sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't — wait until the last few minutes to add them.

  • Use this recipe as a blueprint and once you’re comfortable, feel free to make it your own!

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