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
Serves 10-12 (a group!)
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)
• 2 cups dark beer
• 6 cups mixed beans, either canned or dry beans soaked overnight and boiled in water. I used black beans & adzuki brown beans*. Add a mix that you prefer.** (see notes)
• ½ cup green dried lentils
• Two generous handfuls of fresh cherry tomatoes
• 6 cups homemade or store-bought vegetable stock
• 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 overnight 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 dried beans to make a total of 6 cups soaked (leftovers can be frozen). After, strain and boil the soaked beans in a separate pot with water and lid half on for 45 minutes or until tender. Never boil soaked beans in tomato sauce as the acid in the tomatoes prevent them from softening. When done, strain and transfer beans to chili.