#Healthier. I saw this hashtag the other morning and fell in love. Healthy is a complicated word, a word that’s meant many things to me over my short lifetime. At one point, it meant peppermint mocha Frappaccinos worth 9 points and iceberg lettuce worth 0 points. At another point, it meant sugar-free, fat-free ice cream and unpronounceable ingredients. And then, at another point, it meant no pizza or French fries or dessert. I’m sure you could give an account of this word too.
This post was created in an ongoing partnership with Alexia. A chef once told me to source the things that others do better. That’s how I feel about Alexia’s fries and sides. To see how they are shaking things up with chef-inspired flavors, real ingredients, healthy alternatives, and surprising recipes, follow Alexia on Facebook and Instagram, or check out their website.
Time has taught me that most of life is like yoga—a practice. It’s this ongoing, organic thing that becomes richer as you acquire more experiences and knowledge. And the only way to acquire that richness is to live through the ignorance, the mistakes, the lessons, and the successes. It’s a culmination of our best and worst moments. It’s freeing that we get to have both. That we get to practice.
I struggled with my weight growing up. Mostly because I love to eat. That’s why I cook. I’ve exhausted the meaning of healthy. I think that’s why I like healthier. It’s a little less definitive and a little more accurate. Right now, healthier means everything in moderation, except vegetables. Eat them in plenty. It means adding more plant-based proteins into meal-times. It means trading deprivation for celebration. Pizza and Alexia fries are back on my menu. Of course, it means to never skimp on flavor…or garnishes. So here’s healthier Chili Cheese Fries—topped with a toothsome plant-based chili, sprinkled with a light coat of cotija, and a heavy hand of herby and veggie garnishes.
Vegetarian Chili Cheese Fries
These Chili Cheese Fries are made healthier by a quinoa-based chili, a light coat of cotija, and a heavy hand of herby and veggie garnishes. Add more toppings as you wish!
- 1 bag (15 oz.) Alexia Organic Yukon Select Fries
- 3/4 c. red quinoa*
- 1 3/4 c. water, divided
- scant 1/4 c. organic ketchup
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 3/4 tsp. cumin
- 3/4 tsp. chili powder
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne (optional)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 c. shredded red cabbage
- 1/4 c. loosely packed cilantro, chopped
- 1 green onion, sliced
- 1/2 avocado, diced
- sprinkle of cotija to your liking
Make the fries. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add fries in a single layer. Cook according to package directions until golden and crispy.
Meanwhile, make the chili. In a saucepan, combine the quinoa, 1 1/2 cups water, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. (See additional cooking guidance in the notes below.) Once the quinoa is ready, add all remaining chili ingredients to the saucepan, including the remaining water. Stir together and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat until the liquids are mostly absorbed. You'll want this to be slightly saucy. Taste and add more salt as needed.
Garnish and serve. Add fries to a serving tray. Top with the prepared chili and garnishes. Serve family-style.
Different quinoa varieties require different cook times and water amounts. Defer to original package instructions. Quinoa is ready when the white ring is visible. Add more cooking water as needed to achieve this.
TO FIND ALEXIA NEAR YOU
Head this way. If you’re in Minneapolis, you can find it at Co-ops, Whole Foods, Target, Lunds & Byerlys, and Cub.