Hold up just a second. Before you begin, put down the cutting knife and back away from the vegetables. Pick up your pre-packaged chili seasoning mix, turn it over and tell me what’s in it. See that little, generalized word “spices” in the ingredient list? You can bet that “spices” probably means “MSG” – or monosodium glutamate. It’s a nasty little food additive that enhances flavour and, most will argue, deteriorates health. Why put that non-descript ingredient in your body when making your own pre-mixed chili seasoning is as easy as 1-2-3 (and budget-savvy too)?
Before you begin making your pot of chili, let’s begin with the chili seasoning mix basics.
Scoop in the following into a small mixing bowl:
- 1/4 cup gluten-free flour (a rice or bean blend will work nicely)
- 4 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tbsp. chili flakes
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. white sugar
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. dried parsley
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
Using a whisk, blend the ingredients together and you’re done. It should look something like what you see below. It’s that fast, it’s that easy and it’ll have you in enough chill seasoning for three or four pots. Make sure you store it in an airtight container and use it within a few months’ time.
Now… on to the good stuff. New Year’s Day was crisp, cool and foggy where we live, so a hearty dinner was a perfect mealtime palate pleaser. This recipe is in regular rotation during the winter months in our house.
I like my chili the way I like my guacamole – chunky and chalked-full of fibre-rich vegetables. For me chopping vegetables can be very therapeutic. The process – and the product – can be a lot of fun. The best part of any chili is that you can feel free to switch up and swap in whichever vegetables you like best and it will still probably taste nothing short of amazing.
That said, no pot of chili is complete without piping hot corn bread on the side. While my recipe isn’t vegan, veg-heads can easily adapt it to suit their diets. You can make this recipe in a traditional round pan but I prefer to use a cast iron pan to add a rustic touch to the dinner table.
These recipes in combination should be more than enough to feed a famished foursome. It’s also perfect for two with plenty of leftovers.
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 green pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small red onion, minced
- 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
- 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed
- 1 15-oz. can whole kernel corn, rinsed
- 1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed
- 2-3 tablespoons of chili seasoning powder, to taste
- oregano, sprinkling to taste
- cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1 package veggie ground round*
1. Heat olive oil in a large pot or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, butternut squash, all peppers, garlic and red onion. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until starting to turn tender.
2. Mix tomatoes, tomato paste, all beans and corn into the pot. Add seasonings to flavour.
3. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for at least one hour before serving, stirring occasionally.
* Note that adding ground round will add a healthy smattering of protein to your chili, but it is not gluten free, so keep that in mind.
Gluten-Free Skillet Corn Bread
- 1 cup gluten-free flour blend
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter, melted (plus more for the pan)
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (plus more for sprinkling)
1. Preheat oven to 425° F and place your 9-inch cast iron skillet in the oven.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and blend.
3. Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl and blend before adding to the dry ingredients. Mix only until the batter is moistened. Stir in about 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.
4. Reduce oven heat to 400° F. Carefully remove the cast iron pan from the oven and coat the bottom and sides with melted butter. Pour batter into the pan and return it to the oven.
5. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes. If you wish, sprinkling extra cheddar on top during the last five minutes of baking is always an appetizing touch.
Get ready for your tummy to thank you!