Chilly Outside, Chili Inside
It's a Saturday morning as I write this scrumptious blog post from the warmth of my bed, Home Alone 2 and Christmas music playing simultaneously in the background, two small trees fill the room with a glow, and then it happens--I look up, and all of a sudden, great big snowflakes are falling from the sky! 'Tis the season!
We are now well into the holiday season, and a chill has swept over the plains. When the temperature drops, nothing tastes better than a big bowl of hearty stew. Growing up, Mom's homemade chili was a Christmas Eve tradition that I always looked forward to. Since switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet a few years ago, I've taken a handful of my favorite childhood recipes and translated them into colorful, plant-powered renditions that are equally as satisfying.
Arm your immune system with a generous helping of vitamins and minerals to help combat the cold and flu bug this season! The vitamin C in this veggie-loaded recipe is off the charts, thanks to two superstars: sweet potatoes and kale, not to mention, all of the other rainbow veggies you're going to add in, as well!
Despite what some health gurus may say, carbohydrates are your friend! Food is fuel, and carbs are energy. The body prefers glucose as its primary fuel source, and we get it most readily from carbohydrates. There are only three macronutrients: carbohydrate, fat, and protein. When we get too much fat in our diet, we're susceptible to heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes; when we get too much protein, our kidneys and other organs have to work overtime to process and expel the excess, which also steals our body's energy in the process. Simply put, when we get the majority of our calories from carbohydrates and fewer fats and proteins, our bodies can easily digest and use the food as fuel to energize us and help us to thrive.
Can't Beat Sweet
Stick to whole food carbohydrates, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans, and steer clear of refined sources like donuts, bagels, white pastas, and table sugar. Sweet potatoes are a staple around the Stanczyk household--we love to roast them, mash them, blend them, and steam them. Potatoes, both regular and sweet, are one of the most ideal healthy carbohydrate sources, which is why we tossed them into this hearty chili recipe. Starchy carbs are great because they give you the calories you need to keep you full, without taxing your digestive system like meats and cheeses would. This stew will give your body an abundance of all of the nutrients it requires to thrive, without the incorporation of acidifying foods likes ground beef or being topped with loads of cheese.
The Holy Kale
Kale is a must! I love to de-stem and tear up a few leaves of dinosaur (lacinato) kale and toss it on top of just about any soup or stew. It adds a nice pop of dark green and tons of vitamin K, A, and C, as well as magnesium and folate.
Hearty Holiday Kale & Sweet Potato Veggie Chili
vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, oil-free, vitamin-packed
serves: 6-8 // time: 1 hour
Trim the tree, deck the halls, and dish up a hearty bowl of this vitamin-packed, cold weather favorite. This colorful, veggie-loaded chili is the perfect wintertime stew to warm you up and keep you full. Root veggies are all the rage in the fall and winter months, and sweet potatoes are ripe with vitamin C to keep your immune system in check and add a slightly sweet spin on this classic!
- 1.5 cups kidney beans
- 1.5 cups cannellini beans
- 2 very large sweet potatoes
- 1 very large heirloom tomato
- 2 bell peppers (any color)
- 1 large sweet onion
- 1 medium zucchini
- 3 celery stalks
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup frozen sweet corn
- 4 large leaves de-stemmed kale
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- or I used 2 roma tomatoes and handful sun-dried tomatoes blended
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili pepper
- sea salt and/or cracked pepper to taste
- 4 cups water
- Place all chopped veggies into a large pot.
- Add tomato paste and spices, cover with water, and stir.
- Bring pot to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover with lid. Check and stir frequently.
- When sweet potatoes are thoroughly cooked, add torn up kale, cover with lid, and let steam for a couple of minutes.
- Remove lid, give one last stir, and dish up!
- Feel free to add more tomatoes--you'll note above, I blended some of mine to make my own thick, tomato paste/sauce.
- Add red split lentils or green lentils to thicken up the stew.
- For a slightly cheesy, (non-dairy) flavor, top with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.
- Crunch up whole grain crackers or croutons on top.
- Leftovers for days! This chili tastes even better second day! I don't know what it is about stews and soups, but this one is no exception to the rule!
See What's Cookin' On YouTube
You can also find this hearty chili recipe, as well as a sneak peek into our holiday home decor on the EatMoveRest YouTube channel below!
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Where To Go Next:
The holidays are supposed to be the most joyful time of the year, but do you ever feel like they're also the most stressful? For more helpful tips and tricks for staying sane and loving every minute of Christmas time, check out: 7 Holiday Hang-ups & 7 Simple Solutions Day 1 Here
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Until next time, enjoy your hearty veggie chili, and Happy Holidays, from mine to yours!