Chili is one of the most satisfying meals especially during the colder, damp winter months. It makes a super quick dinner during the week or an easy to pack lunch for work – and who doesn’t love convenient healthy meals!
Traditionally, chili is made with meat such as ground beef, chicken, pork or turkey. But really, it doesn’t have to have meat in it to be called chili. I used to treat recipes as if they were the gospel, following them to a tee, usually with great success. But deviating from the printed recipe was something I never did for fear of failure, or something like that. So, making chili without meat and with tons of veggies never even crossed my mind.
Then, we discovered we had food sensitivities and at the advice of our doctor starting following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. It’s a healing diet which has a long list of things not to eat, so I had to start getting creative. It took a lot of adjusting, but got much easier as time went on. The funny thing is instead of being more restricted, I felt more free because I no longer feared what might happen if I don’t stick to the recipe. It freed me up to be more creative, and I don’t worry about recipes turning out perfect, like the author of the cook book or cooking show makes their recipes look.
Now when I make chili, I use a variety of veggies and beans so it’s almost a like a super chunky vegetable soup only more gratifying. Check out my recipe below. How do you like to make your chili? Leave me a comment below and maybe we can have a virtual chili cook off!
Here’s some tips on how to make a really good chili with or without meat:
If you choose to use meat, make sure to use a high quality meat. The higher fat content will typically lend a richer flavor. Grass fed organic beef will have more nutrients including the healthy omega 3′s that we usually rely on salmon for. Brown the meat first for better flavor. To do this, heat some coconut oil in the pan, then add the beef let it sit for 5 minutes before stirring.
In terms of beans, canned beans are fine and certainly easier than soaking and cooking your own. But canned beans often are loaded with sodium (the unhealthy kind) that can affect the flavor of your chili. Canned beans also typically lead to more issues with gas and bloating. Dried beans that are soaked for 6-8 hours or even longer will be easier to digest and lend a much more tasty flavor to the chili. Better yet, cook the beans with some kombu seaweed which will also help alleviate gas after eating the beans.
Have fun experimenting with spices. Try fresh dried chilies and grind them in a coffee or spice grinder (that is on my list to try….). Add a little coriander, cumin and cardamom in addition to the usual chili powder.
Instead of topping with cheese and sour cream, try some avocado and fresh cilantro.
Make it the way YOU want it
Very Veggie Very Good Vegetable Chili
1 sweet yellow onion
2 orange bell peppers
5 cloves garlic
2 serrano peppers
1 large eggplant
5 large Portobello mushrooms, wiped clean
2 tablespoons chilli powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups black beans, soaked and cooked or canned
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 ripe avocado for garnish
Chop onion and mince garlic cloves. Cut off stems of peppers and remove seeds. Chop into 1 inch slices or cubes. Heat one tablespoon oil in a large stock pot on the stove over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and peppers. Cook until tender about 5 minutes. Add spices and stir well, cooking for a few minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, and stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Slice mushrooms into chunks. Dice eggplant into one inch cubes. In a separate saucepan, add two tablespoons oil, then add mushrooms and eggplant. Cook for 5 minutes or until beginning to brown, adding more oil as needed. Turn off heat and set aside.
Using a food processor with grater attachment or a hand grater, grate or shred zucchini and carrots. Add carrots and zucchini to the stock pot with tomatoes, onions, garlic and pepper. Cook for 10 more minutes. Then, add beans and mushroom eggplant mixture. Continue to cook over medium low heat for a few minutes. Serve with sliced avocado and chopped cilantro over top. YUM!
Makes 6 servings