If, like me, you made a New Year’s resolution to start eating healthier, you might be just a little worried about what you’re going to eat at the Big Party coming up this weekend. I’m referring, of course, to the Super Bowl, the day when grown adults run and dodge and knock each other down in their quest to get to the guacamole bowl. Or maybe that’s just at my house. I live with two hard-core football fans who will insist that there be guacamole and tortilla chips to eat during the big game, and if I’m not careful, I’ll start mindlessly snacking all my healthy progress away.
That’s why I have a plan–and I suggest you have one, too. You may not be able to keep away from all the tempting snack food, but you can have just as tempting nutritious food on hand to grab when the snacking urge hits. Guacamole itself isn’t unhealthy as long as you don’t overdo it, but packaged tortilla chips are just fried flour and salt. So make your own baked chips, or better yet, scoop up your guac with baby carrots, celery sticks, red pepper slices, cucumber, or cauliflower florets. And be sure to have a filling, nutritious main course that tastes like you’re cheating on your diet (but you’re not).
That’s where the chili comes in. Nava Atlas shares this Big Pot of Really Good Chili in her hot new book Vegan Holiday Kitchen (which I had the honor of photographing). It’s perfect for when you’re feeding a crowd of hearty eaters, and because the seasoning is mild, each of your guests can spice it up according to taste.
Nava’s A Big Pot of Really Good Chili
Nava writes: When you need a heaping helping of something fast, inexpensive, and healthy, few things that fit these criteria better than a big pot of chili. Simple, hearty, and warming, this is a great choice for casual winter parties and for Superbowl Sunday. Serve with stone-ground tortilla chips, guacamole, and a big salad or cole slaw.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I omitted this)
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 3 28-ounce cans beans of your choice (try a combination of pinto, pink, and black beans), drained and rinsed
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
- 1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 to 2 jalapeño or other hot peppers, seeded and minced, or one 8-ounce can mild or hot chopped green chiles
- 1 tablespoon good-quality chili powder
- 1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Chopped ripe tomatoes for garnish
- Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until the onion is golden. Add the remaining ingredients except the last three. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender and the flavors have melded.
- Season with salt and pepper, and adjust the other seasonings. If time allows, let the chili stand for up to several hours before serving. Heat through as needed.The chili should be nice and thick; if it has gotten too thick, stir in a cup of water. Serve in individual bowls, garnished with tomatoes and cilantro.
Varations and optional garnishes:
- Add a cup or two of cooked corn kernels toward the end of cooking time
- Add a medium or large firm-cooked sweet potato, peeled and diced
- Add a diced zucchini or yellow summer squash about halfway into the cooking time
- Serve with grated nondairy cheddar cheese on the side for garnishing individual servings
- Put out extra “hot stuff” like minced fresh chili peppers, dried hot red pepper flakes, or hot sauce for those who like their chilies extra-spicy
Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 40 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Nutrition (per serving, including oil): 236 calories, 37 calories from fat, 4.3g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 938mg sodium, 719.6mg potassium, 39.9g carbohydrates, 11.6g fiber, 5.8g sugar, 11.4g protein, 6.8 points.
Without oil: 216 calories, 17 calories from fat, 2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 938mg sodium, 719.6mg potassium, 39.9g carbohydrates, 11.6g fiber, 5.8g sugar, 11.4g protein, 6.2 points.
Recipe from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas. Reprinted with permission.
Vegan Holiday Kitchen contains dozens of recipes for informal get-togethers like Super Bowl parties, so be sure to check out the last chapter on potluck dishes. And if you don’t have it yet, hop over to Hungry Vegan to read a terrific review and enter to win a copy.
If you’re not hosting a crowd this year and don’t need a really big pot of chili, I recommend my Smoky Refried Bean Soup, a Ridiculously Easy recipe that cooks in about 30 minutes. Here are a few other low-fat recipes to keep you munching guiltlessly as you cheer your team to victory:
- Mexican Lasagna (or Enchilada Casserole)
- Bryanna’s Low-Fat Veggie “Guacamole”
- Saintly Black and Gold Salsa (my Superbowl recipe from 2010)
- Chipotle Chickpea Dip
- Baked Lime-Chipotle Tortilla Chips
- Three Guilt-Free Snacks You Can Make at Home
- Texas Caviar (Black-eyed Pea Salsa or Salad) at Fatfree Vegan Recipes
- Spinach and Cucumber Spread from Vegan Holiday Kitchen
- Vegan Fat-Free Spinach-Three Bean Dip from The Blooming Platter of Vegan Recipes
- Seitan tacos with homemade salsa and guacamole from Bistro Katie