Let's face it, the holidays are EXHAUSTING, and maybe one reason we overeat is because we are too tired to make a proper meal. That's how I felt today after coming home from a long holiday.
I opened the fridge - empty.
My first thought was to just order dinner or go out to eat, but I knew that would just delay the REAL solution, which was to go to the grocery store. So I bundled up, brought my shopping buddy, and ventured to our local grocery store with a couple of ideas in mind for dinner. I like to go to the store with little or no plans for meals for the week. I know it's a foreign concept to many of my meal-planning friends, but if I go in with a set plan, I may miss out on discounts, fresh and in-season produce, and new recipe ideas. When I shop, I start in the produce section and base all of my meals for the week on what is on sale and what looks ripe and ready to eat. If my meal plan includes avocados but they are not ready to eat, I would either be forced to use unripe avocados or change my meal plan. Going in with no plans makes shopping more fun and keeps my mind opened to possibilities!
Luckily, there were good sales on produce that I wanted. I picked up some Portobello mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, green and orange peppers, and avocado. With these ingredients, I knew I could make a large meal that would feed my family for two meals - Vegetarian Chili. I grabbed the other ingredients I would need, along with items for other meals for the week, and headed home to get started on dinner.
SNACKSTER SAM'S BIG ADVENTURE - ON SALE NOW
What I love about chili is it's SO easy. You can add more of the ingredients you like, add as much or little seasoning as you want, and it's a hands off meal. It's really hard to make a mistake. After you chop all the vegetables, you can let the heat do its thing until you're ready to eat. This chili is so simple, I was on the phone throughout the preparation and cook time!
I used this Vegetarian Chili Recipe for inspiration. This chili is not your average chili recipe . . . think of it more as a Mexican-influenced chili. With cilantro and avocado, this recipe takes me to the beaches of Mexico. It's packed with vegetables and is meatless, but is not lacking in flavor or protein. If you are wanting to make this but are nervous about the cost of Portobello mushrooms, compare the cost of the mushrooms to the meat you would have used for traditional chili. Or if you can, make this when you can get the ingredients on sale!
Not Your Average Chili Recipe
INGREDIENTS (You can add or remove ingredients to your liking)
2 tablespoons oil (olive, coconut, or canola)
1 large onion, chopped (red, yellow, or white)
1 bell pepper, chopped (orange, yellow, green, or red)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 zucchini, chopped
1 cup corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
4 portobello mushrooms, washed and cut (I just broke the mushrooms as I was washing)
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 can black beans (you can use chili black beans or plain - drain and wash according to directions on can)
1 can tomato sauce OR 2 cans of canned tomatoes (whole or diced)
1 can vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
SEASON TO YOUR TASTES
1-2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
GARNISH (optional - but good!)
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Chopped green onions
Cooked brown rice (can add to finished chili or serve on the side - or use to make leftovers different!)
Add oil to a large stock pot and turn heat to medium-high. Add chopped onions and peppers. Stir and let cook for about 3 minutes, or until onion starts to become translucent. Add garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, and corn (if using fresh). Stir and let cook for about 6 minutes. Add seasoning and stir until vegetables are thoroughly coated. Add canned good items and fresh tomatoes. (Add corn if frozen.) Bring chili to boil and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve and garnish as desired.
Try it and post in the comments what you think of this recipe! Did you make any adjustments? Have suggestions? Tell us!
Danielle is the mother of two, small business owner, and creator of Snackster Sam. She has been concerned about healthy habits and nutrition for over a decade, and conducted an award-winning scientific study on portion control. Danielle is an author and community activist who is passionate about helping people reach and exceed their personal and professional goals.