Here's a recipe for a damn tasty colourful vegetarian/vegan-friendly chili that will happily satisfy the taste buds of even the most carnivorous of omnivores. It's packed full of flavour, while using super economical ingredients, and so is the perfect plant-based dish for feeding a crowd on a budget!
No matter how we choose to nourish ourselves, there's one thing in nutrition that's for certain - we should all be including more plant-based foods into our diets. In the clinic I have more and more individuals who are curious as to how to make this happen, particularly with making main meals out of plant-based foods - "but, no meat??!", my very Croatian Baba would exclaim. Yes, no meat - instead this vegetarian-friendly chili contains kidney beans and black beans, both of which are great sources of plant-based protein. Not only do they help bulk out and provide substance to the dish, but their high-fiber content is also excellent at keeping our bowels in tip-top shape.
More on protein...
If you've gone exclusively plant-based, as seen in veganism, a common concern for many is protein intake. Protein is an essential macronutrient, meaning it's a nutrient needed in large amounts for good health, and is deemed essential as certain amino acids (the building block of protein) are unable to be made by the body and so we must get them from the foods we eat. Animal foods contain all of the essential amino acids and are therefore known as "complete proteins", whereas plant-based protein foods (aside from quinoa and soy) will always be missing at least one amino acid, and so are called "incomplete".
This doesn't need to be an issue though - plant-based foods will contain different, yet complimentary, amino acids, and so when eaten together, and in appropriate quantities, you get the full-specturm of amino acids in your meal - this is why with a well-planned balanced vegan diet you should receive enough protein to cover your needs. Typically when eaten together grain/starchy foods (e.g. brown rice, corn) and legumes (e.g. beans, peas and lentils) will provide the full set of amino acids (thus acting like a complete protein), as will nuts & seeds with legumes (e.g. crunchy seeds sprinkled overtop of a lentil salad). Here I've paired legumes with corn and brown rice for a lovely balanced plant-based meal.
I think this has to be one of my favourite recipes I've popped up on the blog so far - give it a go, it's really quite delicious!
The Best Vegetarian Chili
1 tbsp oil
1 brown onion
4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 tbsp chili seasoning (not chilli powder - chilli seasoning is blend of several spices including paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and more)
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 red capsicum/pepper
2x 400g tin diced tomatoes
1x 400g tin kidney beans
1x 400g tin black beans
1x 400g tin corn kernels
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1. Prepare your veggies - peel onion and chop finely, peel garlic and chop finely/crush, dice capsicum and grate carrot.
2. Heat oil over a medium-low heat in a large deep fry-pan. Saute onions and garlic for ten minutes or until onions are soft.
3. Add chili seasoning, cumin and dried oregano, and saute for one minute or until fragrant.
4. Add capsicum and carrot, mix well and then saute for a few minutes.
5. Add tins of tomatoes and mix well. Open tins of beans and corn and drain any excess liquid, before giving them a good rinse in a sieve under running water. Add to fry-pan, along with the salt and mix well.
6. Now let the magic happen! Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes to soften veggies and develop the flavour. Mix occasionally throughout the 30 minutes.
Serving suggestion: this chili is fabulous with guacamole, fresh salsa, brown rice and corn chips.