Tag Archives: Chili

What Does That Even Mean?!

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Steel-cut oats.
Quinoa.
Chia.
“Whole.”
Roasted vegetables.
Kale chips.
“Clean eating.”
Gluten-free.
“Natural.”
Superfood.
Sea salt.
“Raw.”
Coconut water.
Grass-fed beef.
And of course, the catch-all, the big O: organic.

Raise your hand if you know what all of these words pertain to. Well, okay, so I can’t exactly see your hand raised. (Or not raised.)

These are all buzzwords I’ve heard floating around the wellness and healthy-living spheres during the past year. Quite frankly, I didn’t know what the hell most of them meant until I did extensive research and label-reading. I am not ashamed to admit now that until I tried most of these things for myself, I didn’t at all fully understand their nutritional value or their merit as part of my diet. Okay, let’s be honest — I didn’t know most of these things existed until I ran across them in someone’s blog or the newspaper or on Twitter.

I know I’m not alone in this. We hear something (e.g. steel-cut oats) and we pretend that we know exactly what that is (a different way of cutting oats? a different type of oats altogether?) until we can look it up on Wikipedia or secretly Google it on our cells under the table. I’m not a Registered Dietician or a physician, so I don’t know the biochemical breakdown of every single food I stuff into my gob (i.e. why all of a sudden everyone is gluten-free). Honestly, I don’t see the benefit in pretending to like something just because it’s popular in some social circles or in defying ignorance for the sake of dietary sophistication.

Should I be using fat-free plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream atop my vegan chili? The operative word here is “should.” I should be eating whatever it is that I’m comfortable eating.

What exactly are the benefits of drinking coconut water as opposed to good ol’ H2O? Besides my wallet losing weight…

I’m all for research and experimenting with different foods. That has been the name of my game over the past 11 months. But I’m over feigning understanding about why peanut butter is out and almond butter is in. I’m done nodding and smiling and saying, “Yep, mmhmm,” when someone raves about a particular brand of herbal tea. My eyes are probably glazing… but don’t worry — it’s not you, it’s me. I surrender to the almighty foodie powers that be: I don’t know everything! I don’t think heaven has reserved seating for vegans, while those ignorant to the existence of granola are banished to the smokers’ lounge. Just sayin’ 😉

P.S. Your comments are always welcome and appreciated!

Recipe Borrowing: Sweet Potato Chili

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This year marked the second annual Thanksgiving weekend chili supper among the Lew Crew, the Andersons, and the Jenkinses — three families who have known each other since before their adult children were born. Last year, I brought my own Crock Pot of vegan chili; this year, I provided Brittany’s sweet potato chili I’ve read so much about. [Praise be to the Blog Gods who make so many delicious, healthy recipes available to the masses.]

I was really excited about this get-together for many reasons. For starters, I hadn’t seen any of my dear old friends since last New Year’s. There’s Kaitlynn, who is a year older than I; Scott, who is my age; Shannon, who is a sophomore in college; and Bethany, who is a junior in high school. As we’ve gotten older, even as we’ve spread out across the state, we’ve become a much more cohesive — if not albeit less mature — group. It’s nice to see everybody after the hubbub of Thanksgiving has passed but the families are still all together.

For another reason, I love trying new recipes and experimenting with new eats with my fam. Perhaps against my better judgment, I cooked and served a brand-new recipe on the same day. Normally, if I’m not the only one trying a new recipe, I like to taste-test it first to make sure it’s fit to serve people. Ya dig? This year, my family was hosting the chili supper, so my chili had to be extra-incredible!

For another reason, this is the first chili “season” I’ve eaten meat since I was in 8th grade, so it’s been quite awhile since I savored various chilis. And finally, it’s really meaningful to see all of these almost-family members, because our family moved five years ago out of the neighborhood block we all shared for so many years. Scott works in Northern Virginia, Kaitlynn works in Richmond, Caroline and Shannon and I are in school in totally different parts of the state, and Bethany is still too young to rage 😉 I kid. But it’s getting harder and harder for the three families to pull off lengthy gatherings and then drive our separate ways. These days, no one seems as gung-ho to either host or attend a late-night fiesta, so it’s a real treat when we can pull off something like this with everyone in attendance.

And now, for your dining pleasure…

Here’s what you’ll need to make (my edited version of) Brittany’s sweet potato chili:
Prep time: 10 minutes, cook time: 90 minutes
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper — cored, seeded, and chopped
1 red pepper — cored, seeded, and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers — seeded and diced
2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
3 2 large cloves garlic, minced
2-3 1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1-2 1 tsp basil
1 bay leaf
14.5 oz. diced tomatoes
28 oz. vegetable broth
30 oz. black beans — washed, rinsed, and drained
juice of one 1/2 lime
garnish: chopped fresh cilantro, chopped scallions

1. Heat oil in large pot on medium-high.
2. Add onion. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes or until tender.3. Add bell pepper and sweet potatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.

4. Stir in garlic and cook one minute.
5. Add chili powder and next 6 ingredients. Stir and cook one minute.
6. Add tomatoes and broth. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
7. Stir in beans and continue to cook for 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
8. Remove bay leaf and stir in lime juice.
9. Add garnish.I’m not super-hype on spiciness, so I toned down some of Brittany’s spice factors. I also try not to add sodium to anything, so I eliminated the sea salt element.

I got rave reviews about this recipe, so my thanks go out to Brittany, as well as all those brave souls who were willing to be guinea pigs to test this incredible vegan chili! I told everyone that it was a new recipe, and that I am no longer a strict vegetarian, but I did not tell everyone that the recipe was vegan. As disappointing as it is, I’ve found that telling people something is vegan automatically turns some people off, when what they don’t know won’t hurt them. A few of our guests simply were not interested in meatless chili, or were more interested in my mom’s seafood chowder. Some of our guests were a bit wary of my chili, but they tried it anyway out of politeness. And most of our guests dove right in without hesitation! Hey, at least our old family friends were willing to try it 😉Question: Do you have a chili recipe you’re willing to share? I’m trying to expand my repertoire, though I always give credit to the original chef!

Chilly? Chili!

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Hurricane Sandy and her shitty attitude inspired me to make my favorite vegetarian Crock Pot chili for dinner Tuesday night. It has more canned ingredients than it does fresh, but it’s simple and delicious, and as my mom would say, “it sticks to your ribs!”

Here’s what you’ll need if you’d like to make the recipe my mom created:

about 1 C Boca burger crumbles
1/3 C diced vidalia onion
8.5 oz. can of whole kernel yellow corn
8 oz. can of tomato soup
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream and “sprinkly cheese,” if desired

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.

I’m a big fan of the designated Healthy Request soups and veggies because they have much lower sodium content.

Spray Crock Pot with non-stick cooking spray. I’m also a huge fan of my Crock Pot because it makes meals so easy!

Allow chili to cook on “warm” or “low” setting for 3 hours or so. Serves 2 people, or one heartily with leftovers. Enjoy! 🙂

P.S. Do you like to try out recipes from different types of diets (e.g. vegan, PALEO, gluten-free)?
P.P.S. Happy Halloween! 🙂