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.
I love everything about chili. I love to make it. I love the way the house smells when chili is cooking. I love the one pot easy clean up. I love that chili is hearty and filling and extremely nourishing. I love that chili is uber flavorful. I love that chili is a meal in itself and there is no need for side dishes (although I do enjoy a simple salad alongside my chili—-and my family loves it when I make cornbread on the side). I love the way chili leftovers can be easily reheated, and even frozen! I freeze individual servings of chili in quart sized Ziploc bags that are frozen flat for easy stacking.
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 past muster. Even the zucchini in this vegan lentil chili recipe becomes benign to non-vegetable lovers. Try it and let me know how it goes! Though, feel free to mix and match….you can substitute wherever needed…..swap out the kidney beans for garbonzos or navy beans; you don’t have any zucchini but do have yellow summer squash—that’s fine. 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.
So, the next time you’re having guests over to watch the game, consider a healthy alternative to the usual football fare. This vegan lentil chili will fill you up—-not out!