Many of us ring in each new Year with a food-related New Year’s resolution: Eat less. This year, instead of eliminating foods, how about adding to the list? Start with my favorite nutritional superpower, beans. Spice and mix them into a hearty chili, and you’ll have created the perfect dish to detox from less healthy, or — dare I say? — excessive holiday eating and drinking.

Beans: A Nutritional & Environmental Superpower

Beans are a powerhouse of nutrition. And because they don’t require much water to grow and release nutrients into the soil, they have among the smallest carbon footprint of any protein source. In short, beans are  environmental superheroes. Among their many nutritional benefits:

  • High in protein and fiber, low calorie

  • High in nutrients like zinc, potassium and magnesium

  • Can lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and help stabilize blood sugar

Spiced up in a thick, rich chili with a side of cornbread, you’ll be doing your body a favor, without feeling deprived. And all that fiber will keep you feeling full for hours. (Warning: you may want to invest in a package of Beano!).

5 Plant-Based Chili Recipes

spicy and savory butternut squash chili packed with protein

Butternut Squash Quinoa Chili

Butternut Squash Quinoa Chili: I often print out recipes I like, so I can scribble notes on them. Here’s what I wrote on this one: PERFECT!!!! The homemade chili powder is a game-changer!! Quinoa mimics the texture of ground beef. This recipe is a great one even if you use store-bought chili powder, but the 5 minutes it takes to mix your own, is, well, a game-changer.

 

Chili Sin Carne: Beans. Beans. And more beans. This traditional chili calls for kidney, black and pinto beans (I tend to double-up on the black and skip the pinto, but it’s a matter of taste), and comes together in a snap. Throw in carrots and/or celery for extra nutrients and crunch, but if you don’t have them in the frig, no problem.

smokey chipotle butternut squash chili perfect to pair with soft fluffy cornbread

Chipotle Butternut Squash Chili

Chili to Fool a Carnivore: This chili won first place in a chili cook-off — competing against chili made with meat. There’s a secret ingredient — which you should not divulge to anyone. Don’t be put off by the “nutritional yeast” if you don’t know what it is. Just go to any supermarket, buy it, and use it in this recipe. It’s what gives the secret ingredient its extra umph.

Chipotle Butternut Squash Chili: Another one of my favorites. Coffee, cocoa powder, cumin and chipotles in adobo make this chili sing. Tip: The comforting balance of warming spices make any chili even better as leftovers. If you plan to serve it to guests, make it the day before. (That’s me, happily sautéing butternut squash).

happy home cook preparing plant-based chili and cornbreadChili Cornbread Casserole: Comfort in a baking dish. The combination of tangy chili topped with sweet cornbread makes this a winner. While the cornbread part of this recipe is rich and creamy, it uses a lot of non-dairy butter and milk. I tend to top the chili with one of the simpler cornbread recipes, below.

 

 

Crave-worthy Cornbread Recipes

I can’t go to the movies without eating popcorn, and I can’t eat chili without cornbread. Here are two of my favorites; both are slightly sweet and moist on the inside, with a thin layer of crunch on top. Perfection.

Simple Cornbread: Any plant milk (almond, soy, oat, etc.) works here. Applesauce makes it sweet and moist.

Easy Cornbread: What’s the difference between Simple and Easy? Instead of applesauce and apple cider vinegar, this one uses everyday granulated sugar and canola oil. I made this for four of us, and although the recipe states, “serves 12,” there were only 4 pieces left. I rest my case.

 

New plant-based recipes are added to the Good News Veg database weekly. Be sure to stick around and search for tasty recipes to pump up the flavor on your plate.