his ‘n hers secret ingredient vegan black bean chili

 

Before I adopted a plant-based diet, there were some dishes that I never made with meat. Like pasta sauce (here’s my go to recipe). And chili.

Not sure why, but for some reason, I never liked the addition of meat in these dishes. However, once I went all in on the vegan eating, I knew I had to pay more attention to my protein sources.

 

Let’s pause a minute on this while I clear up the myth that you can’t get “enough” protein on a plant-based diet…

  • First, all plants have protein, though some have more than others (think nuts, legumes, beans, lentils).
  • Secondly, our bodies don’t store protein and will eliminate the excess or turn it into fat.
  • Therefore, there’s absolutely no point in consuming more than your body will use for that day. For example, 1 cup of cooked, chopped chicken has about 43 grams of protein. That’s only 3 grams shy of the recommended daily requirement for the average woman. So unless our lady eats almost nothing else the rest of the day, she’ll be consuming way more protein than is needed.
  • By comparison, I reach a third of my daily requirements with a thoughtful, 100% plant-based breakfast. Combine that with lunch, dinner and snacks, I rarely have an issue meeting my daily requirements unless I’ve skimped on the nuts and beans.

 

Which brings me to this secret-ingredient vegan black bean chili.

 

 

Beans are excellent sources of plant-based protein, but I wanted to dot my protein “i’s” and “t’s” in this dish and add a little more. Plus I wanted to give the appearance that meat was present to appeal to meat eaters. Like my husband.

So what’s the secret ingredient in this secret-ingredient vegan black bean chili? Walnuts! Finely chopping the walnuts with some garlic and onion powders and sage in a food processor or blender makes it look like I’ve added ground meat into my chili. Genius, right?!

But wait, there’s a second secret ingredient too…chocolate!

It may sound weird, but trust me on this. The chocolate tangos with the chili powder to deepen the flavor, plus it’s a superfood that has won many a woman’s heart so of course it needs to go there.

And there you have it. The his ‘n hers secret ingredient vegan black bean chili.

Let’s get cooking!

 

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his 'n hers secret ingredient vegan black bean chili
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 25 mins
 

This protein-packed chili has two secret ingredients to appeal both to him and to her.

Course: Entree
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 3 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup veggie stock
  • 4.5-6 cups black beans
  • 2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 7-8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 Tbsp chili powder
  • 3 tsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp oregano
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3-4 dashes onion powder
  • 3-4 dashes garlic powder
  • 1-2 dashes ground sage
Instructions
  1. If you're cooking your own black beans, do so according to package directions. I usually soak mine in cold water overnight, rinse then add to a fresh pot of boiling water and boil for about 115-20 minutes. Then I turn off the heat and soak for several more hours.

  2. If you want the walnuts more tender, soak them for 30 minutes in water that been just boiled.

  3. Add the onion, garlic and peppers to a large stock pot along with the veggie stock over high heat. Saute about 5 minutes or until the veggies start to become tender.

  4. Add tomatoes and spices. (Hint: I like using the 1 cup of water to rinse out the cans and add it into the chili pot - it helps prevent waste that way!)

  5. Add cooked beans.

  6. For the walnuts, add to a food processor or blender along with garlic and onion powders and sage and pulse until the walnuts are finely chopped. Then add to the chili.

  7. Bring the chili to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about one hour to let the flavors develop.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES: This chili tastes even better on the second and third day as the spices work themselves through. It also freezes well!

 

 

 

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weeknight spinach tikka masala (vegan, dairy free, gluten free, soy free)

My love for Indian food – especially south Indian – has grown over the years and my favorite go-to curry sauce is this one. It’s one of the often-requested dishes from my boys (although they like chicken to go along with it…sigh). But, my girl…she’s a tough one! So far I haven’t won her over to that recipe, so you could have knocked me over with a feather when she actually liked this one. Praise the Lord.

If you’re looking for a quick-ish fresh meal to make and one that rocks leftovers – this one is it!

 

 

The sauce is the epitome of comfort food, Indian-style, with its warming spices and rich creaminess of the coconut milk. It gets an added nutrition boost from quick-cooking red lentils, which makes them ideally suited for weeknights, and freshly chopped spinach. It can be spooned over chickpeas or quinoa for added plant-protein or served traditionally with rice (brown is best). For our meal, I served it with oven roasted broccoli and green beans since those are two family favorites, but you can easily adapt your veggie add-ons to suit your tastes. Weeknight tip: use frozen veggies to save on chopping time!!

 

 

For a quick weeknight meal, I recommend following the preparation steps outlined in the recipe. Alternatively, you could prep the sauce ahead of time and simply re-heat when ready to serve.

 

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weeknight spinach tikka masala

Warm comfort food designed for weeknights and made for leftovers.

Course: Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 6 people
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the tikka masala sauce
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 tsp freshly minced ginger or 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup red lentils
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
For the rest of the dish:
  • chickpeas, quinoa or rice
  • veggies of choice
Instructions
  1. If you are serving with brown rice and don't have a rice- or pressure cooker, put a pot of water on to boil (like you would for pasta) and turn on the oven to 350 degrees F. If you are serving with quinoa, rinse thoroughly and add to pot with water. For less mushy quinoa use a scant 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa. For example, if you're cooking one cup of dried quinoa, add only 1 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Cooks in about 10 minutes.

  2. Spread your veggies on a cookie sheet and pop in the oven. Rinse lentils thoroughly and set aside.

  3. Begin to chop the veggies for the tikka masala sauce. If cooking rice, at whatever point in this process your water starts to boil, add in the rice and cook uncovered as you would pasta. Set the time for 23 minutes.

  4. Finish preparing the tikka masala sauce and add in the lentils. Bring the sauce to a boil, cover the pot, then reduce to a simmer.

  5. Chop spinach and take a peek at your veggies in the oven. When they start to brown slightly, turn the oven off. Keep them in the oven until ready to serve so they stay warm.

  6. When the timer beeps, test your rice for doneness, then either allow to cook for another minute or two or drain immediately and return to the pot.

  7. When the lentils are fully cooked (about 10-15 minutes), add in the spinach and cilantro and stir to combine.

  8. To serve, add quinoa/chickpeas/rice to a bowl along with the veggies and spoon the sauce over top.

  9. 9) Store leftovers in the fridge for up to several days or freeze for later.
Recipe Notes

Recipe Notes

  • I prefer buying my broccoli and green beans frozen to save me a step.
  • If you want leftovers, I recommend doubling the sauce recipe.

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  • I’m able to buy my broccoli organically and in bulk from BJ’s (a wholesale club). If you don’t have a wholesale club membership and want to check BJ’s out, click here to get details on a membership (if you sign up we both get $25!!). Or, if you’re not sure if a wholesale club membership is worth it, you can download an article here where I share my experience and steps in evaluating whether a membership made sense for us.
  • You should be able to find canned full-fat coconut milk in most grocery stores. I buy either the Thai Kitchen brand or Whole Foods 365 coconut milk (which is better since their cans are BPA free!). However, if you can’t find it, try here.
  • I get my red lentils in bulk from Whole Foods, but you also can find them here.
  • I love Trader Joe’s frozen french-style green beans which is what I used here.

 

 

 

roasted carrot coconut ginger soup (vegan, dairy free, gluten free, soy free)

This roasted carrot coconut ginger soup absolutely hollers “fall” doesn’t it?

The bright orange color. The roasted root vegetables. The richness of the coconut milk and comforting heat of the ginger. Then add a sprinkle of spicy sweet pumpkin seeds and this is a meal and the sings. The inspiration for this soup came from similar versions I’ve seen in stores. But my version comes without the added oils that most store-bought varieties include and cutting back on added oils = a healthier you.

There are two extremely important lessons I learned when making the soup: 1) peel the carrots before roasting them. I merely scrubbed them to leave the nutrient-rich skin in tact, but found it gave a bitter overtone to the soup.

 

 

2) Be extremely careful if you puree hot soup in a blender. I overfilled mine to “speed up” the blending step which resulted in a big mess and a couple burns on my skin. Yep. Big time blender fail.

 

 

Also, when I made this soup, I pureed the roasted carrots, onions and ginger with the coconut milk and then put in my stock pot along with the water, seasonings and lentils.

 

However, you could try adding everything to the stock pot, bringing it to a boil, then simmering for at least 30 minutes before blending it. Doing it this way would save you an extra step.

If you want to serve your soup with the spicy sweet pumpkin seeds – something I highly recommend! – you can get that recipe when you purchase a copy of the Perk Up Your Pantry – Fall edition recipe ebook. Not only does it include the spicy sweet pumpkin seeds, but you’ll get:

  • 5 essential sauce recipes
  • 5 essential snack recipes
  • 5 easy main dish recipes
  • 3 fall-inspired bonus recipes
  • A shopping list of all ingredients

PLUS you’ll receive two bonus items: a meal prep tip sheet and a meal plan tip sheet which includes a suggested meal plan featuring the recipe in the Fall Perk Up Your Pantry recipe book. All for only $8! Click here to buy it now.

 

 

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roasted carrot coconut ginger soup
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 15 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
 

A soup that absolutely hollers, "fall." From it's bright orange color, warming heat and rich creaminess, it a perfect recipe to celebrate the season.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 8-10 medium carrots, peeled, cut in half
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 14-oz can full fall coconut milk
  • 1/5-2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup red lentils, well rinsed
  • 4 cups water
Instructions
  1. Place carrots cut side down on a lightly greased baking sheet (avocado oil recommended) or one lined with parchment paper along with onions and garlic. Roast in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until carrots get a slight char on their cut sides.

  2. Remove from oven and add all ingredients to a stock pot, bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentils are cooked and carrots are very soft.

  3. Using a blender stick or traditional blender, carefully puree soup until very thick and smooth. Serve immediately or store in fridge for a day or two to let flavors further develop.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES:  Serve with spicy sweet pumpkin seeds for a fun twist and added crunch (in place of crackers)

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  • You should be able to find canned full-fat coconut milk in most grocery stores. I buy either the Thai Kitchen brand or Whole Foods 365 coconut milk (which is better since their cans are BPA free!). However, if you can’t find it, try here.
  • I get my red lentils in bulk from Whole Foods, but you also can find them here.

big summer salad with tahini ranch dressing and herbed walnut croutons (vegan, no added sugar)

Summer is made for salads. Big salads. Because cool greens, fresh herbs and colorful veggies that are finally in season just beckon on hot, hazy days.

At least once a week I try to plan a salad for dinner and I wanted this one to capture the abundance that spills from the garden. As a main meal, I wanted it to feel “meaty,” so I diced up some sweet potatoes and roasted them in the oven and further “beefed” up the protein with herby walnut croutons. Since I had a package of farro on hand from my sister, I cooked up some of that too.

My veggies of choice for this salad are:

  • lettuce (your favorite kind, but I prefer delicate green leaf for this one)
  • spiralized zucchini
  • shredded carrots
  • tomatoes
  • snap peas
  • corn
  • cucumber
  • sweet potato

As a side note…did you know that you can eat the skin of a sweet potato? I always assumed I needed to peel it until I read otherwise in The Seven-Day Rescue Diet*. I love the added texture and vitamins plus another way of reducing kitchen waste!

For the ranch dressing, I slightly adapted my garlic herb dressing from my favorite BLT Salad. I may try a cashew version of this dressing down the road since cashews lend themselves so well so dairy-free creams, but tahini is more budget friendly so I went with it this time.

 

Ever since I had children, I’ve discovered that even though they are birthed from the same parents, they have completely different taste buds. Go figure. To avoid personally having to customize each salad (which would definitely exceed the limits of mental capacity) and to make veggie eating a (more) enjoyable experience for my brood, I plate the lettuce, but create a veggie buffet on the table for the fixings. That way, each person can select the toppings they like best and I never have soggy lettuce leftover that often is a downfall of pre-mixing a salad.

I would love to hear if you try this tip! And/or have you tried something like this with your family? How do you encourage your children to eat their greens?

 

  • Click here for my favorite food processor and the veggie spiralizer I use
  • Click here for the avocado oil.

 

Print
big summer salad with tahini ranch dressing and herbed walnut croutons
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

Cool greens, fresh herbs and colorful veggies capture the abundance that spills from the garden on hot, hazy days. Diced sweet potatoes, herbed walnut croutons and tangy ranch dressing round out this salad to make it a satisfying main meal or easily scale it back for a side.


Course: Main Course, Salad
Ingredients
For the salad
  • lettuce
  • zucchini, spiralized
  • carrots, shredded
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • corn
  • snap peas, chopped
  • cucumber, diced
  • farro (about 1/4 c. cooked/person)
  • sweet potaotes, diced
For the tahini ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/8 cup fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dashes freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tsp fresh chives
  • 2 1/2 tsp onion powder
For the herbed walnut croutons
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp avocado oil
  • dashes salt and pepper
Instructions
For the salad
  1. Place the diced sweet potatoes (seasoned with salt and pepper if desired) on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper in a 350 F oven for 35-45 minutes or until cooked through.

  2. Cook farro according to package directions.

  3. 3. Prepare veggies while the sweet potatoes are cooking.

For the tahini ranch dressing
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. Pour into a glass jar. Can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.

For the herbed walnut croutons
  1. Add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl and stir thoroughly until the nuts are well coated with the herbs (using your hands is helpful). Turn onto a metal baking sheet or pie tin and pop in the oven with the sweet potatoes. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until the nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant. *Keep an eye on them as they go quickly from lightly toasted to burnt.*

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES: While I didn't include the portion sizes for the salad ingredients, here is a general guideline for adult portion sizes:

  • one generous handful of lettuce and one medium carrot per person
  • one small spiralized zucchini per 2-3 people
  • one medium sweet potato per 2 people
  • 1/8-1/4 cup of corn, cucumber, snap peas and farro per person
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes per person

I like using organic frozen corn and simply let it thaw since GMO free corn on the cob is hard to find (and it's easier!)

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