In the spirit of good health and in an effort toward minimizing our impact upon the planet, we are eating more vegetarian than animal protein based meals. We are also taking full advantage of our winter garden to supplement our grocery shopping. Whatever we can’t or don’t grow we try to buy at the Farmer’s Market before resorting to the local chain grocery store and we are finding quite a reduction in our food bill by observing these guidelines.
Good, wholesome fresh food is not only economical but packs a big wallop in terms of nutritional benefits and disease fighting elements. If you decide to follow a healthful vegetarian diet with just occasional animal protein you will notice a marked savings on food bill, stronger hair and nails and glowing healthy skin tones. No doubt about it. So what’s stopping you? For the new year, resolve to eat well and feed your body what it needs. You won’t regret it. And if you are daring, you will tantalize your tastebuds. C’mon! Try it!
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
Serves 4-6 depending upon portion size
2 ½ cups black beans, cooked one day ahead OR 2-15 oz. cans, rinsed and drained
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 2 ½ cups diced)
1 medium red pepper, julienned
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, roughly diced
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 teaspoons coriander (cumin works well too if you like it; many people don’t)
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder or ancho chile powder for smokiness
1 teaspoon cayenne powder for heat
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 to 2 ½ cups homemade vegetable stock or store-bought if you must
(chicken stock works if you aren’t sticking to a vegetarian diet but please use
Non-fat reduced sodium products)
2 cups chopped roma tomatoes, seeded OR a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes (please don’t)
1 tablespoon lime juice (NO, lemon juice isn’t the same)
½ cup chopped cilantro, flat leaf parslely, watercress or arugula depending on your taste
Non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
Prepare the garnishes (cilantro or other and yogurt) in small bowls and set aside.
Prepare your mise en place (all ingredients ready on the counter, cleaned & chopped, spices assembled)
Heat the 2 teaspoons oil in a nonstick pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, red pepper slices and sweet potato and cook them, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften. This should take between 5-7 minutes over a gas flame. If necessary , add a bit more oil.
Add the spices: chipotle, cayenne and chili powders, salt and then garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Be careful not to overcook the garlic as it will turn bitter.
Add the stock (your choice, vegetable or non-fat, reduced sodium chicken stock but I’m hoping you’ll use homemade goodness.)
Bring the mixture to a strong simmer but don’t cross the fine line to boiling or you will have vegetable mush. Cover. Reduce the heat to keep a nice simmer. Cook just until the sweet potato becomes tender. This should take between 10-15 minutes depending on your burner capacity.
Add the black beans and the tomatoes. Mix well. Add the lime juice. Mix well again.
Increase the heat to high and return the mixture to a mild simmer immediately. Stir often to prevent burning and/or overcooking. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5-7 minutes. This is not a watery chili.
Remove the mixture from the heat.
Serving suggestions: Serve in a bowl with a dollop of yogurt (or sour cream) and a garnish of green (cilantro, watercress, parsley or arugula)
Add some cornbread, jalapeno cornbread, jalapeno slices, grated white cheddar for that extra tart flavor, and it even works well with a sprinkle of pepita seeds. Enjoy!