Did you watch the show Dinosaurs back in the day? We did. Every last episode. I watched it again on Netflix just before having Hal. It kept me occupied during my many craft projects for her room. I’m pretty sure she’d recognize the theme song if I played it for her now. In one episode Robbie looks at his dad, Earl Sinclair, and explains he’s a herbivore. Earl was a carnivore. You can imagine how that went over. Earl took Robbie out back to catch dinner. Robbie befriended his “dinner” and made a salad.
Sometimes I imagine becoming a full-fledged vegetarian and having to tell my Earl Sinclair, carnivore-loving dad. And then I get a huge craving for a hamburger and realize, I’ll probablynever have to have that conversation. That happened a couple days ago.
But in general, we don’t eat a ton of meat. We started cutting it out a couple years ago to save money on our grocery bill. It worked, and we haven’t really looked back. I’m also terrible at cooking meat. And terrible at remembering to thaw it. Dinner is much happier now. However, chicken fajitas and beef tacos will always, always, have a place in my heart.
I’ve always loved chili. It reminds me of home—sitting in front of our Texas fireplace on what I thought were chilly nights. Having lived in Chicago and Connecticut now, I know a new meaning of chilly. But its all relative. I love this chili recipe even more for its many veggies tucked inside. It still maintains the chili flavor. The sweet potatoes and beans help carry the texture. And when you top it with cheese, avocado, and pita chips, you’ll forget you’re eating vegetarian chili. That is, if you’re worried about eating vegetarian chili. Call it really good vegetable soup, if you want.
This chili is spiced the same way I serve my traditional meat chili with cinnamon and chocolate. We load it with extra vegetables and sweet potatoes and haven’t found ourselves missing the meat. It takes about 20 minutes to prep and 40 minutes to cook. If I had to guess, most of the ingredients are already in your pantry. This recipe makes a large batch, so serve half now and freeze half for later.
1–2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 bell peppers, diced
1 (15 oz.) can of corn
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (28 oz.) cans of crushed tomatoes
2 (15 oz.) cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. cumin
1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. unsweetened chocolate powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
sea salt, to taste
squirt of agave nectar, to taste (optional)
squirt of sriracha, to taste (optional)
2 small (or 1 large) sweet potato, peeled and diced
Prep onion, peppers, and garlic.
In a large stock pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers, and corn. Salt. Sauté for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for a minute longer. If necessary, add in remaining olive oil.
Turn heat to medium-low and add in canned goods and spices. Stir and cover. Salt to taste.
Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust spices if necessary by adding more salt. For heat, add sriracha. To cut the acidity, add agave nectar. Prep sweet potatoes.
Add in sweet potatoes and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes or until just softened.
Serve and garnish as you wish.
• We usually freeze half the chili for another meal by placing it in a ziplock freezer bag, flattened, and stored in the freezer.
• If freezing the entire batch, undercook the sweet potatoes. They will finish cooking in the reheat.
• Adding cooked quinoa in the last 10 minutes of cooking would add a nice meaty texture similar to these Vegetarian Tacos.