Here’s a vegan/vegetarian chili that can warm up a crowd on a cold wintery day. It’s made with black beans, adzuki beans, green lentils, dark beer, peppers, pure tomato sauce and other plant-based ingredients. If you’re a meat eater, you can substitute one type of legume with lean ground meat.
Plant-based diets, with little or no animal products, can reduce your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension and type 2 diabetes. They can also lower your risk of cancer. However, a diet that is completely plant-based also carries risks.
Our bodies can better absorb heme iron found in meat than the non-heme iron found in plant sources. When considering this fact, vegans and vegetarians are at risk of iron-deficiency anemia. However, red meat isn’t the only iron-rich source. With a well-managed plant-based diet, vegetarians and vegans may not have a higher incidence of iron deficiency than do meat eaters.
If your diet is mainly plant-based, you need to cook in a carefully planned way to obtain the essential nutrients. To prevent iron deficiency anemia, you should combine non-heme foods (plant foods high in iron) with foods that are high in Vitamin C. Pairing foods this way will enhance the absorption of iron in your body. As I mentioned in a previous post and according to experts, it’s healthier to get your iron from food sources instead of pills.
Examples of non-heme foods are dark-leafy greens (spinach, romaine, kale), lentils, kidney beans and other legumes, dried fruits and iron-fortified foods, like tofu and cereals. Foods high in Vitamin C are peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, citrus fruits, berries and brocoli.
To obtain sufficient iron levels, lace your spinach or romaine salads with orange wedges. In colder months, a vegetarian chili, like this one, with chili peppers, red sweet peppers, tomatoes, beans and lentils served with brown rice is a complete meal and will give you the iron that you need.
So get ready for those chilly days! Here’s the recipe:
Mixed beans and lentil chili
1. In a big pot on medium-high heat, sauté for five minutes in olive oil:
• 2 medium-size leeks, chopped
• 2 red onions, diced
• 2 big sweet red peppers, chopped
• 1 green or red hot jalapeno pepper, chopped small (option)
• 2-3 garlic buds, pressed
• reduce/adjust heat and add a little water, if need be
2. Add and stir/sauté for another 3 minutes:
• 2 tablespoons (tbsp) dried oregano
• 2 tbsps dried coriander
• 1 tbsp powdered cumin
• 1 teaspoon hot or mild paprika
3. Add and bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer with lid off:
• 2 X 700 grams pure tomato purée sauce (2 bottles of sauce as pictured below)
• 2½ cups dark beer
• 6 cups mixed beans that were soaked for 8-12 hours or overnight. I used black beans & adzuki brown beans*. You can add a mix that you prefer.** (see notes)
• ½ cup green dried lentils
• Two generous handfuls of fresh cherry tomatoes
• 6 cups homemade veggie broth -or- veggie bouillon cube + water
• ¼ cup tomato paste
4. Continue adding:
• A big bunch of fresh parsley leaves, chopped fine
• 2 cups fresh, frozen or jarred yellow corn kernels drained and rinsed
• Pink salt and ground pepper to taste
Simmer on low with lid off for a good hour, stirring often. Take off heat and allow to settle with cover on for 15 minutes. Serve with crusty bread and/or whole grain rice. Tastes even better the next day and freezes well. Bon appétit!
* Read package instructions for soaking adzuki beans. Some sites indicate that you only need to soak them for 1-2 hours. I soaked the dried adzukis for 12 hours and according to package instructions.
** You can use canned beans if you are pressed for time. If you find them already prepared in glass jars, then go for those. However, I find that dried beans are purer, fresher and better. With dried beans, particularly the black kind, they need to soak for 8-12 hours. It takes about 2½ cups dried beans to make 3 cups after they’re soaked, so double the amount of dry to make a total of 6 cups soaked (leftovers can be frozen). After, strain and boil the soaked beans in water with cover on for 20 minutes. When done, strain and add to chili – the beans will continue to cook and soften in the chili.