A healthy vegan version of a classic chili recipe. Easy to make with pantry ingredients for a hearty and satisfying plant-based meal.
Even meat eaters love this vegan chili!
Football season has begun. Does “football” count as a season when trying to eat seasonally? In our house it does….the same way Holidays demand specific foods, regardless of the weather or agricultural season, football is a season unto its own and calls for chili. It is often left on the stove all afternoon (or on warm in the crockpot) so that seconds, thirds, and general all day snacking is made possible.
Why I love this recipe
- The house smells divine with a pot of this on the stove.
- One pot….easy clean up.
- Freezer friendly.
- Meal prep perfect.
- Good excuse to make some cornbread to serve on the side.
- Nutrient dense….loaded with protein and fiber.
Lentils are a great choice for plant-based chili
I have so many different recipes for chili….but this one has the most universal appeal. Even meat eaters, like this vegan version because the lentils provide texture similar to ground beef……..and all of the flavors are the same…..but that’s where the similarities end.
Lentils are low on the glycemic index and low in calories, but high in nutrition. Lentils are a good source of fiber, B-vitamins and protein—all with virtually no fat. Thanks to their high iron content, lentils give you energy to burn while stabilizing blood sugar, and working to prevent heart disease. Most of these benefits can’t be said about the beef found in most chili recipes.
Chili is an awesome way to sneak in nourishment to those who otherwise don’t eat some of the ingredients. For example, my son doesn’t like beans……but he likes chili and doesn’t even pick the beans out! My nephew doesn’t “do” red peppers, but as a chili aficionado, the red peppers don’t bother him. Even the zucchini in this vegan lentil chili recipe becomes benign to non-vegetable lovers. Try it and let me know how it goes!
Which veggies are best in chili?
Though, feel free to mix and match….you can substitute wherever needed…..any color peppers will work, not just red. Or, swap out the kidney beans for chick peas or navy beans; if you don’t have any zucchini but do have yellow summer squash. If you do add in any veggies that require longer cooking time (like a hearty winter squash for example), just be sure to add to the cooking time so that those vegetables have a chance to get tender. Chili is very forgiving if it stays on the stove longer than the recipe calls for.
BUT…aren’t there a lot of carbs in Vegan Lentil Chili?
I know a lot of folks are concerned these days about carbs….and their affect on blood sugar levels. Beans do have a lot of carbohydrates….but they also have a lot of fiber. Fiber does not affect your blood sugar levels. Although fiber is a type of carb—-your body DOES NOT DIGEST IT….so you should subtract the grams of fiber from the total carb count. When consuming food with carbs, it’s always a good idea to note the cart to fiber ratio….it will give you a more accurate picture of what’s really going on.
More game day suggestions:
Brownies (honestly, when is it not a good time to serve them?
Guacamole (see note on the Brownies…)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 large zucchini, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (4.25-oz) can chopped green chilies
- 1 (14.5-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
- 1 (15-oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15-oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- 2 1/2 cups cooked lentils* (see note if you only have dried lentils)
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- PREP VEGGIES: Dice onion, zucchini and red pepper. Mince jalapeno.
- In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until they are translucent, stirring once in awhile.
- Stir in zucchini, red pepper, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Add in the garlic and green chilies, mix well and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, beans, corn and lentils* and bring to gentle simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.
- Garnish with scallions, cilantro, parsley
LENTILS: 1 cup dry lentils will yield 2 ½ cups cooked lentils. If you don't have already cooked lentils, place 1 cup dried lentils into pot + 2 cups veggie broth or water when you add in the tomatoes and beans. Adjust total cooking time to 45 minutes.
Make sure to cool chili before storing. Chili will stay good in the fridge for 5 days. Freeze for up to 3 months.
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Amount Per Serving Calories 198Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 225mgCarbohydrates 34gFiber 11gSugar 6gProtein 12g
The nutrition calculations were done using online tools. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients you used. You are ultimately responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information is accurate, complete and useful.