If I had to sustain on one food all winter long, without any doubt, it would be chili. I love every variety out there- veggie, chicken, turkey, beef, you name it. It’s spicy, hearty, filling, warming, and can actually be super healthy. I decided to make a vegetarian version using lentils, which I decided would mirror the texture of ground meat. And to add a little extra pizazz, a whole bottle of beer went into this recipe…so you can have your beer and eat it too (or something like that). It’s a perfect meal to stay warm during a blizzard named after a cute animated fish, for example.
Another reason I love chili so much is because it’s really quick and easy to make–an hour in the kitchen will leave you with at least 6 meals that you can eat immediately or freeze for a rainy (or snowy) day you want a quick meal. Another huge benefit–it’s very budget friendly. This is especially great, because I’m starting a school project that involves eating for a week on the budget of someone on SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program…formerly known as food stamps). Stay tuned for a post next week to see how it went and if I stayed within my $46 budget for the week!
Nutritional Highlights: This recipe proves that you don’t have to eat meat to get plenty of protein and iron. The lentils and two types of beans in this recipe give you all that and more–and the more part is tons of fiber. This recipe also has other healthy vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, corn. With a little low fat cheese, avocado, and cilantro on top, it’s an amazing well balanced vegetarian meal that will keep you full for hours. It’s also gluten free, and can be vegan if you leave off the cheesy topping (but that’s not something I’m willing to do right now).
Vegetarian Lentil and Bean Chili (with beer!)
1 cups dried lentils (or 2 cups already cooked lentils)
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tablespoons chipotle hot sauce (can substitute chopped chipotle in adobo)
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 orange or red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cans of beans- I used black and kidney but any are fine!
1 cup frozen corn
1 bottle of beer
If using dried lentils, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. If using already steamed lentils (my favorite shortcut) skip to the next part.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and satue for 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and jalapeno and sauté until the peppers are tender, about 3 more minutes. Stir in the spices (chili powder, cumin, salt, and chipotle hot sauce) and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the beer, crushed tomatoes, cooked lentils, beans and corn. Simmer on low for 20-30 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Eat chili immediately or refrigerate and eat the next day–I think it’s even better on day 2 because the flavors have more time to intensify.
Serve with any of your favorite toppings and enjoy!