There’s a slight chill in the air and the autumn leaves are in full color right now – at least where we live.
Fall is the perfect season for a steamy bowl of chili. Not only is it a satisfying and spicy meal – chili can also be quite healthy for you – especially if you load it up with veggies.
Full disclosure – I’m a meaty chili kind of guy. When I was given the task of digging up the best vegan and vegetarian chili recipes, I thought, “Pick any chili recipe and just take out the meat!”
But the truth is, there are some smart chefs out there with amazing ideas for making healthy chili that will please your taste buds and maybe even blow your mind. Here’s this week’s Natural Healthy Concepts Recipe Roundup!
1. Contest-Winning Vegetarian Chili
Chili cook-offs are so much fun. You get to try a bunch of different flavorful recipes and at the end a champion is crowned.
But could a vegetarian chili ever have a chance at winning a chili cook-off?
That’s the claim this recipe from Taste of Home makes. The dish has a bunch of 5-star reviews and nothing lower than 4-stars – so people who’ve tried it must agree.
The time consuming part of this recipe is that it uses quite a few fresh vegetables, which means you’ll be doing your fair share of chopping. You’ll be adding zuchinni, red and green sweet peppers, jalapeno peppers, onions and minced garlic.
First you saute those fresh ingredients before they go in the chili pot. That really helps bring out the flavors of the peppers and onions.
Spices and seasoning in this chili include those you’ expect – like chili powder and cumin – but also some fresh, minced cilantro and parsley.
- Check out the full recipe at Taste of Home
2. Smokey Vegetarian Chili
Anjali from PickyEaterBlog.com says her husband would shoot down most vegetarian chili recipes she tried – even though he became a vegetarian when he was a teenager.
“The classic response from him when I make a vegetarian chili recipe is: *taste* *pause* ‘this is pretty good. but it’s not chili.'”
But now she’s found a recipe that impressed her spouse, and it was all thanks to a secret ingredient.
Anjali adapted what she calls “the best vegetarian chili recipe ever” from a dish she found on Kath Eats. When you’re looking at the ingredients list you’ll notice something pop out at you right away…
1 tsp Ghirardelli cocoa powder (unsweet). Cocoa powder in chili – what’s the deal with that?
Anjali speculates that this ingredient combines with the other flavors to give her vegetarian chili a smokier taste. She also adds a little soy sauce and uses smoked paprika. Serve it up with some freshly-baked corn bread to make it a meal.
- Check out the full recipe at PickyEaterBlog.com
3. Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili
A few weeks ago, we told you about some spectacular squash recipes – and this chili would have fit right in on that list.
It’s a vegan friendly recipe that helps you take advantage of the health benefits you get from eating butternut squash. Julie at The Simple Veganista reminds us that squash are full of carotenoids and help boost your immune system.
Black beans are another main ingredient of this dish, and they have their own health-promoting qualities. That includes fiber to make you feel satisfied and improve digestion.
This recipe also includes cocoa powder as an optional ingredient. But the author says she thinks the key to its fantastic taste is the addition of cinnamon. It’s a spice some people only associated with sweet baked goods and breakfast – but cinnamon also goes well with spicy dishes.
Julie likes to top things off with tortilla strips from some crunch and avocado for some creaminess.
- Check out the full recipe at The Simple Veganista
4. Sweet Potato Vegetarian Chili
Another interesting and nutritious addition to your chili could be sweet potatoes. Some of the nutrients sweet potatoes (and yams) provide include Vitamin C, B6, potassium and magnesium. Plus, they’re high in carotenoids, just like squash.
Sweet potatoes can also provide you with energy throughout the day because their sugars absorb slowly into your bloodstream.
Jeanine from the food blog Love and Lemons says this vegetarian chili is “a great meal to cozy up to.” She sneaks in a cup of chopped kale to make it even healthier.
One other unique ingredient is dried guajillo chiles. If you can’t find these at a store near you, she suggests simply adding a little extra chili powder or other spices.
Jeanine also gives us an excellent chili tip with a reminder that it often tastes even better the next day. That’s the case with lots of chili as the spices get a chance to combine and flavors intensify.
- Check out the full recipe at Love and Lemons
5. Loaded Veggie Chili (Freezer-Friendly)
Here’s a chunky vegetarian chili that you can store away for another day.
Kiersten Frase from the food blog Oh My Veggies, calls this recipe a “transitional dish.” That’s because while chili is considered fall fare, this particular version makes use of traditional summer produce.
Kiersten says unlike other chili recipes, hers goes easy on the beans, because she’d rather taste the vegetables. From the looks of it – it’s also much less of a soupy chili – which would make it more hearty.
The thing I noticed about her recipe is that she uses fresh sweet corn. Most other chili recipes use canned or frozen corn. I think you could try the same thing with tomatoes. The majority of recipes ask for canned tomatoes, but if you’ve got too many tomatoes leftover from your summer garden – use those instead!
Kiersten says this chili freezes well. That makes it a good, healthy meal for busy nights when all you have time for is warming something up.
- Check out the complete recipe at OhMyVeggies.com
6. Vegan Beer Chili
Who says vegans can’t have any fun? This chili recipe would go great with a beer, and it also has some inside of it!
Of course, you don’t have to be a beer drinker to enjoy this chili – or a vegan for that matter. Beer is often a secret ingredient in a variety of dishes because it adds a very unique flavor. And the alcohol cooks off – so you don’t have to worry about feeding it to kids.
We found this one on the site Minimalist Baker – featuring husband and wife food bloggers Dana and John. This couple uses a dark Mexican beer called Negra Modello. But you can use your run-of-the-mill domestic beer or anything you think might properly enhance the flavor profile.
The level of spiciness someone likes is a personal thing. This recipe calls for adding your favorite hot sauce to spice things up – like Sriracha, Tabasco or Cholula – but that step is optional. With all chili recipes, experimentation is important. That’s how you can customize it into your own dish.
These bloggers also says you should make enough chili for another day. They like to use the leftovers for a topping on baked potatoes and sweet potatoes.
- Check out the full recipe at MinimalistBaker.com
More on the Health Benefits of Vegetarian Chili
There are lots of other things you can do to make an awesome chili full of vegetables. My mom’s chili often included things like carrots and celery.
Carrots actually provide you with more beta-carotene when they are cooked. Celery is chock-full of minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc – and minerals do not get destroyed when they are cooked.
That’s not always easy. Busy lives have too many of us turning to easy options – like greasy fast food.
But you don’t have to do that. And you don’t have to spend a ton of time chopping veggies either.
Natural Healthy Concepts offers some excellent products that give you all the vegetables and nourishment your body needs in one big glass.
Meal replacements like RAW Meal from Garden of Life, Deeper Greens from OrthoMolecular, or Dynamic Fruits & Greens from Nutri Dyn are all excellent, healthy options that are made from real food. Say no to the drive-thru and yes to the superfoods in these powdered drink mixes.
Now It’s Your Turn
Got a great chili recipe you want to share? Have some tips for making sure vegetables are included in your diet?
Leave us a comment below and tell us more!
We found a couple of these recipes through another chili recipe list post on NoshOn.It. Check them out for even more healthy chili ideas.