Monday, January 10, 2011

Meatless Monday

I finally have a reason to blog about something! My 2011 resolution is to put into practice some of the many dietary and exercise changes I have been researching. Step 1: Eat a plant-based diet. Right now I am not vegan or even vegetarian, but the more research I read about nutrition the harder it is to ignore how heavily meat-based my diet is. Even switching to grass-fed and pastured meats doesn't seem to be a big enough step to reap the greatest health benefits - I still need to replace a good portion of meat with MORE vegetables. I sometimes choose vegetarian meals at restaurants (I had some delicious sautéed pumpkin and eggplant last night at Afghan Grill in Dallas) but as a relatively new cook my home meals tend to be traditional American and meat-based. I love Thai food, Indian food, Greek, Lebanese, and now Afghan food and I am excited to incorporate some of these cooking styles into my meals. The best part is that many of the dishes I love are packed with anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices!

My wonderful husband who loves these same foods (but is hesitant to cut back on meat consumption much) is finally open to trying a fully vegetarian meal tonight: vegetarian chili. My challenge will be to serve a spicy, hearty chili that tastes as good or better than my usual ground beef version. Neither of us is into meat "substitutes," but luckily chili doesn't really need that anyway and we both love beans in chili :) I also want to incorporate some potent ant-inflammatory spices such as turmeric and cinnamon, and some dark chocolate since we both love molé.

Here is the recipe I am starting with. It was adapted from a Whole Foods recipe. I may change it slightly when I make the chili and I'll update how it turns out.

3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained (or kernels from 1 ear corn)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced (about 3 cups) (I left the skin on)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 jalapeño pepper, minced, more or less to taste (Add if you like more heat)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Sea salt and black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted or regular diced tomatoes with juices
1 cup gluten-free vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a large heavy skillet, roast corn kernels over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet over medium heat and cook eggplant with a pinch of salt until golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in jalapeño, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes, beans, vegetable broth and lime juice. Bring to a simmer. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in corn and eggplant. Add chocolate and stir just until melted. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately.


Success!!! This chili was delicious! I made a few changes to the recipe above: I doubled the cumin and tripled the chili powder, used 1 Tbsp of cocoa powder instead of the chocolate chips, added 1 tsp of turmeric, and left out the paprika (I was out). I left the eggplant skins on and they were a little too chewy, so next time I will either peel the eggplant or use zucchini instead. I didn't use a jalapeño and my husband missed the heat, but once he added about an eighth cup of cayenne pepper (as he does to everything) he gave it an 8 out of 10. That's about as good as I could have hoped for!


ampursell said...

What is it with needing everything so spicy? Geoff adds Tabasco or other hot sauces to everything he eats too - last night, on his biscuits 'n gravy. I can't figure out how those flavors work together, but he sure seemed to enjoy it!

Your chili looks delicious and makes me think it's time to cook up a batch of my own. Keep the inspiration coming!

ABnot said...

Nice. I know what you mean. Our pepper shaker is actually filled with cayenne pepper now. He even has the dog hooked on spicy food - she begs for it! I'm glad you like the recipe, btw :)

Allison said...

This looks delicious! I love the spice, too, but I'm the only one in this household. Maybe I'll have to try cayenne in the pepper shaker ... Can't wait for more vegetarian & vegan recipes, Amber! I ate a vegetarian diet (and attempted to go vegan) for about three months, but I burned out fast. I think I tried to change too much too fast. Plus, Matt and the kids were not fans of the seitan or the Gardein "beef" tips or any of those other meat analogs. They were very good sports about it though!