flexitarian chili recipe

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It’s football season! Or, as I like to call it, hiding in the kitchen, “cooking,” with a glass or 8 of wine season. If you’re entertaining – or just looking for something to feed your own crowd of grownups & kids with varying tastes – this chili is for you. It’s my own concoction, tested on lots of chili fans and it’s always a winner. Try switching up the protein source according to your family’s tastes. Or omit the protein, add another bean choice, & substitute vegetable stock to make it vegetarian. It’s flexitarian! Whatever that means. I promise, this recipe is a crowd pleaser.

Apparently, “real” chili is not much more than stewed meat. I made that once and it was delicious (we did it right up with lots of cheese & a side of Fritos corn chips, apparently the only way they eat chili in the South), but 1 pound of meat in a bowl is not something I can in good conscience serve my family on a regular basis. Adding in the veggies chopped into bite-size pieces means you up the fibre & vitamins massively — and ensures little people don’t selectively leave big, noticeable chunks of carrots & bell pepper in the bottom of their bowls.

This recipe uses lentils & baked beans in place of kidney or black beans because my family are not bean eaters, and the ground meat & lentils blend together into a lovely rich stew that basically requires no chewing. BONUS! For an extra boost, I eat mine with a scoop of plain full-fat yoghurt for that sour cream flavour. It’s a one-bowl meal that tastes like a treat. And it tastes even better leftover the next day or two for fibre- and protein-packed lunches!

Flexitarian Chili

serves 8 with 2 lb. meat (heartily)

  • 1-2 lb ground turkey, lean pork, or lean beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 500 mL. low-sodium or sodium-free beef broth (1/2 tetrapak)
  • 1 can lentils, rinsed
  • 1 can baked beans in tomato sauce
  • 1 can sodium-free whole tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 3-4 tbsp chili powder
  • 1-2 tbsp paprika, cumin and oregano each (to taste)
  • 1 tsp cayenne or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • yoghurt, chopped scallions, chopped fresh cilantro and shredded cheddar cheese to garnish (optional)
1. Heat oil and brown meat in large pot over medium-high heat; drain any excess fat. 2. Add garlic, onion and spices and saute 2-3 minutes.  3. Add remaining vegetables (except parsley), legumes and liquids and mix well. 4. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat & simmer on low 1-2 hours until desired consistency is reached; season with salt & pepper. 5. Add parsely before serving and garnish with a dollop of yoghurt & chopped scallions and/or cilantro, if using. Dig in!