Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Vegan Friendly American Classic- Vegan Chili


I became interested in vegan and vegetarian cooking a few years ago when I saw Ruben Studdard, 2nd season American Idol winner on The Wendy Williams Show.  He revealed he had embraced a vegan lifestyle.  This was intriguing to me!  How can you satisfy your cravings for classic comfort foods?! 

Interested in decreasing my meat consumption, I started researching recipes, and among other things, targeted chili.  I found a couple recipes that I thought would be worth a try, and ultimately decided on “Really Good Vegan Chili” fromVegWeb.  It’s a hit at my house.  No one ever complains about having it, and no one cares that it doesn’t have meat. 

This is my adaptation of the original recipe, having prepared it several times now.  It’s a lot the same, but a lot different, know what I mean?  I’ll give my ingredients and instructions, and comment on variations at the end. 

My Vegan Friendly Chili


1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 Tbsp coconut oil or olive oil

1 cup each of 5 varieties of dried beans and peas, such as: 
kidney beans
pinto beans
black beans
pink beans
black eyed peas
navy beans
great northern beans
garbanzo beans
lima beans

1 large can of tomato juice (about 1 quart)
1 can diced tomatoes

8 oz baby bella mushrooms, quartered (optional)
2 Tbsp molasses

1 Tbsp each:  chili powder, Lawry’s garlic powder with parsley, Lawry’s seasoned salt
1 tsp each:  cumin, coriander, and cardamom

1/8 tsp each:  cayenne pepper, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and smoky sweet red pepper flakes

1- Soak beans and peas 8 hours or overnight. 


2- Pour tomato juice and diced tomatoes into a 4 to 6 quart Dutch oven pot.  Use immersion blender if desired to break tomatoes into smaller pieces. 

3- Add beans and peas. 


4- Add seasonings and 1 Tbsp of oil and stir.  Cover and simmer on low, stirring occasionally.  Allow chili to simmer about 90 minutes. 

5- Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a skillet.  Add chopped onions and sauté.  Transfer onions to Dutch oven. 

6- Sauté mushrooms.  Transfer to Dutch oven.  Stir. 

7- Allow chili to simmer another 30 minutes, or until beans and peas are soft. 



Serving suggestions:  Serve with rice or macaroni; cornbread, vegan cheese, raw onions. 



My Personal Perspectives on the Recipe

The original recipe used 4 veggie burgers, broken into pieces in the skillet.  I used the crumbles, my first experience with “texturized vegetable protein” (TVP).  I didn’t know how well it would hold up, so added it after my chili had been simmering almost an hour.  I just poured it directly from the bag into the chili. Truthfully, I was not crazy about the texture. 

The second time we had this chili, I browned the crumbles (TVP) first, and added them near the end of the cook time.  I liked the texture better, having browned it a bit in the skillet.  The last time we made the chili, we skipped the TVP altogether.  I have some reservations about the “fake meats” since many have ingredients that look engineered in a lab.  Many have soy components, and I’m not convinced soy is great for you.  Sally Fallon says even the Japanese eat it sparingly. 

Sally Fallon speaks on reservations about soy
Each time I made the chili, I used different beans based on what I had.  I have made the chili with canned beans, but try to minimized use of canned goods.  Dr. Oz recently proclaimed that traces of BPAhave been found in virtually all canned foods that his team tested.  It is relatively easy to use dried beans instead of canned.  You could soak and cook your dried beans ahead of time. 

The originator of the recipe used tomato paste and a large can of tomatoes.  I used tomato juice and a smaller can of diced tomatoes.  I’ve found tomato products in glass jars at HEB Central Market.  The originator used white mushrooms but I prefer baby portabellas.  My sister doesn’t like mushrooms, but quartered mushrooms are easy enough to pick out.  Sometimes I leave them out however.  All minor differences from the original recipe. 

 BPA in Food Cans

The original recipe also uses broccoli tips, finely cut.  I’m not sure if this is for texture or for nutrients.  I like broccoli, but it’s not a chili ingredient to me.  I have left it out after the first time.  I usually add 1 to 2 cups of pureed carrots to tomato-based recipes to boost the nutritional value. 

The original recipe calls for ½ cup unsalted sunflower seeds.  I assume this is for texture, though I didn’t particularly care for the contrast.  My brother and sister liked them though. 

The original recipe was a bit vague on spices.  In the text it said “whatever seasoning appeals, like pepper, salt, crushed red chili peppers, dulse sea weed.  Lots of garlic powder is always good.”  I was inspired by the medicinal properties of spices, particularly classic Indian spices.  I think I hit on a great combination this last time, which is the list of spices I listed above.  The chili tasted heavenly, especially after two days in the frig! 

Dulse and other seaweeds are excellent sources of B vitamins and trace minerals.  I have dulse seaweed powder, but have gotten out of the habit of using it.  It smells fishy if you sniff it directly, but does not make the food taste fishy.  I’d say for this chili recipe, you could easily add a tablespoon of dulse powder.  Anytime you use dulse in a recipe, cut back on the salt in the recipe. 

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