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A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious

Entries in chili (2)


Plan Your Meals--Change Your Life! (plus a vegetarian chilli recipe)


Too Busy To Plan?  (Nah)

We all know that eating nourishing, healthy food can give us more energy and keep us feeling great in our bodies, yet have you found that the busy-ness of life got in the way of eating healthier? Have you ever felt so rushed for time that you ate something unhealthy just because it was convenient?  Isn’t it true that the times when we think we don’t have time to eat healthy are the times that we need healthy foods the most? The first way to start eating healthier is by planning out your meals and snacks for the week.

I truly believe that planning your meals is the key to making healthy eating a lifestyle instead of something you do occasionally. Planning meals can greatly reduce the stress in your life by preventing those last minute shopping expeditions or trips to the take out place down the street.  But more importantly, when you have healthy food to look forward to it becomes easier to make healthy food choices.  And when you make healthy food choices you feel better, increase your resistance to stress and have more energy to be active.

I know what some of you are thinking, but how much time is this going to take me? I suggest you INVEST 30 minutes at the beginning of each week to plan your meals and snacks and write your and shopping list for the week.  


Two Steps to Better Meal Plans

When deciding which meals and snacks to plan for, here are two things to keep in mind:

#1: Plan your meals according to how many nights you want to cook

Yes, you have to eat 7 days a week but you don’t have to cook everyday.  Instead of planning 7 nights of meals, getting overwhelmed and diving headfirst into a pizza, how about starting off with three?  This way, you can make large quantities and have a plan for your leftovers. No, putting them in a huge Tupperware container with a plate on top because you can’t find the lid is not a plan (am I the only one who has done this?).  Instead, take the time to separate out individual servings and freeze them for this week’s lunches or future dinners. 


Night One: Vegetable Chili.  After dinner, pack up 2 containers of leftovers, keep one in the fridge and freeze one.

Night Two: Baked Potatoes with Vegetable Chili on top

Over the Weekend: Nachos made with the chili from the freezer

#2: Have a high protein refrigerator staple in the fridge.

Protein is what keeps us satisfied and keeps us from grabbing tons of food, yet it is typically the last thing (besides maybe broccoli?) that we reach for when we are really hungry. Be sure you have a high protein fridge staple, like hummus or pate that you can enjoy when you come home and are really hungry.  This way, instead of reaching for chips or cookies, you can have your delicious spread with some raw veggies as a powerful snack.


Snack Planned in Advance:  Sunflower Seed Pate on cucumber slices—YUM!

Snack in the Moment:  Peanut butter spread on anything crunchy--even on stale rice cakes you found in the back of the pantry.  (Come on--admit it, I know it is not just me who has eaten this!)


Remember, planning your meals will insure you have satisfying, healthy food prepared and ready to go. This advanced planning will help you to make healthier choices when you are super hungry…a very good thing! 


Start with This Easy Recipe

Vegetable Chili

 Serves 6

This chili is easy to make, low in fat and loaded with protein and fiber.  It is inexpensive to make, filling and makes great leftovers.

1 Tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

1 large green or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 1/2 cups (about 4 ounces) fresh mushrooms, chopped

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 Tablespoon cumin powder

2 Tablespoons chili powder

2 chipotle peppers canned in adobo, minced

2 Tablespoons tomato paste (save rest of can in another container)

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, not drained

1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add garlic and onion; saute for a minute or two, then add peppers, mushrooms and zucchini, saute for a few more minutes, then add seasonings and tomato paste, stirring to make sure tomato paste is dissolved.

Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes (or longer, this is a great recipe for a crockpot!) and serve.

If you're thinking this kind of meal planning would take too much time, you might like to try my free meal plan which will make it easy for you to shop and cook healthy, delicious gluten and dairy free foods.  Allison from Santa Cruz recently tried it and says,

“I love this meal plan! My grocery bills have actually come DOWN, we’re eating healthier, and I don’t have to think about what I’m going to make every day- that part is done for me!”


About Chef Jenny Brewer


Chef Jenny Brewer is passionate about making healthy foods flavorful and fun. For free recipes and more meal plan information, visit


More from Chef Jenny

Not Your Mamma's Chocolate Mousse Tart (super allergen-free)

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup (Vegan, DF, GF, Soy-free, Nut-free)





Recipe: Grown-Up Chili (w/ dairy-free chocolate)

The wonderful thing about chili, is that it is easy to make allergen-free.  Of course, most chili recipes do not contain nuts or gluten anyway, and the dairy is usually "on top", so you can choose to leave it off.  But with most chili recipes, you still miss that taste and texture of dairy - to either compliment the spice or to simply make you happy.

So, if you cannot consume dairy products, have I got a recipe for you.  There is no cheese required, and these flavors will demand that you leave it off.

This recipe has a mix of French and Mexican flavors, with a sauce that compels you to lick your bowl.  I call this "grown-up" chili, because this is not your kids' chili (not your normal kid, anyway).  With this blend of flavors and a 1/2 bottle of red wine, it's for adults only.


Grown Up Chili Recipe

Prep Time:  30-45 minutes

Cook Time:  1.5 hours

Serves:  8 hungry people (and 10 not-so-hungry people)


Gather the Ingredients

3 lbs Ground Beef (organic & grassfed if you can!)

1 TBS of Sea Salt (plus a few extra pinches as you go)

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

3 tsp. ground cumin (1 and 2)

2 tsp. ground coriander (1 and 1)

4 TBS chili powder (2 and 2)

½ c. extra virgin olive oil

2 large yellow or white onions (chopped well)

6 cloves garlic (smashed and finely minced)

4 fresh serrano chile peppers, finely chopped with seeds (no stems) OR (6 – 8 frozen serrano) - if you want a milder chili, remove the seeds from the peppers and use only the pepper flesh (throw seeds away).

4 mulatto chile peppers, soaked for one hour and chopped finely (can also use soaked ancho chiles) - include 1/2 of the seeds (no stems).  If you like it hot, keep all of the seeds in.

1/2 c. organic tomato paste

2 tsp. dried oregano (or 2 TBS of fresh oregano, finely chopped)

½ bottle of dry, full-bodied red wine (cabernet or an equivalently full bodied “good” red table wine)

1 quart organic chicken broth

2 - 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes

3 - 12 oz. cans of black beans

6 oz. dairy-free, bittersweet chocolate, chopped into large chunks



Season the Beef

Place the ground beef into a large bowl and season generously with sea salt (about 1 T. salt).  Then continue seasoning with:

1/2 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp of coriander

1 tsp of cumin

2 TBS of chili powder

Mix well.


Brown the Beef

Prepare a 13x9 inch pan by lining it with a paper towel.  Set aside.

In a large cast iron pot, Doufeu (my favorite pot, bar none) or stew pot, cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil (3 TBS to 1/4 cup).  When the oil is hot, add the ground beef in a layer that is about 1 inch thick (don't crowd or clump so it browns evenly).  Resist the temptation to stir the beef.  Let it brown - when the blood starts to rise on the beef, turn each piece over and brown the other side.  Once browned / carmelized, removed the beef from the pan, and place it in the prepared 13x9 inch pan.  Set aside.


Layer the Flavors

Add the onions right into the juices in the pan.  Saute until they start to get soft.  Add a pinch of sea salt, then add the garlic and saute until you smell that yummy garlic aroma.  Throw in the serrano and ancho chile peppers.  Saute for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste.  Then add the remaining spices:

1 T. of chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

2 tsp oregano

Stir to incorporate the spices, then stir in the diced tomatoes. 


Add the Grown Up Stuff & Simmer

Now add the meat back into the pan, and stir to incorporate everything really well.  Let the meat get used to its new spicey friends, then pour in the red wine - all of it.  Stir it well, then add the chicken stock and incorporate that juicy goodness.  If your chicken stock is unsalted, another pinch of salt here might be a good idea.  Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

In the meantime, drain the black beans and rinse them well to get the “gas out”.  Simmer for another ½ hour. 


Top it Off with a Secret Weapon

Stir in the chopped chocolate.  Stir until it melts brilliantly, then serve immediately and enjoy the beans out of it. 

(Please note: if you make this recipe a day or two ahead of time, its best to wait to add the chocolate until you reheat it.)



Other toppers....if you must....

In my opinion, this chili needs nothing else (except a glass of red wine).  But if you would like a little more flavor, chooped cilantro is a nice garnish.  And if you make it really hot and you are not alergic to soy, a dairy alternative could be a dollup of tofutti (a soy-based cream cheese).  Its a bit heavy, so dollup lightly. 


This recipe can be made a day or two ahead, stored in the refrigerator, and reheated in the cast iron pan.