Monday, December 07, 2009

One easy way to make the vegetarians AND the carnivores in your house happy

Or, "A Tale of Two Chilis"

So, my daughter decided to take the healthy road and eat a mainly vegetarian diet. Let me tell you, in our house, that's no easy feat. She started with a fully vegetarian diet over spring break earlier this year (March 2009) and has added some poultry and seafood back in.

When her dad cooks, he doesn't take her into account. She thinks he still believes that she will just give in and eat the steak, and he secretly stands out by the grill plots beef and pork meals just to driver her crazy while he laughs maniacally. 

When I cook, I try to cook poultry or seafood. If I am cooking something that has beef or pork in it, I will do a separate thing that she and I can share. This works very well for me right now, I try not to eat B/P more than once a week for health reasons, and my husband doesn't get mad because it's not a separate meal for just one person. Not sure how I will make that work for me after she leaves for college, but I guess I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Now, to the point of this post, CHILI! Chili is one of our family favorites, but my husband feels like it HAS to have beef inside and a beer to wash it down. All the talking in the world will never convince him that the beans are enough of a protein source, so I've stopped trying. Now I just make one pot for the omnivores (aka, the boys) and one for the flexetarians* (aka, the girls)

I've finally perfected the dual pot chili and thought I would share my recipe with those of you who have a household like mine, or just have friends with different diets and you want something to serve at your next gathering.

A Tale of Two Chili's

1 1/4 cup diced bell pepper**
1 1/4 cup diced onion
1 1/4 cup sliced celery***
5 cloves garlic
cumin, cayenne, chili powder
1 pound ground beef
3-15oz cans chili beans****
3-15oz cans kidney beans
2-15oz cans great northern or other white bean

Drizzle a little olive oil in a large sauce pan, heat, and add the diced vegetables, minced garlic, and a good sprinkle each of chili powder, cayenne, and cumin. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are tender.

Into a 4-5 qt slow cooker, pour about 2/3 of the cooked veggies, 5 cans beans (2 pinto, 2 kidney, and one white) and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cayenne, and 1 tsp chili powder.

Into a 2-3 qt slow cooker, add the remaining 1/3 veggies and 3 cans beans (1 of each). Stir in 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and 1/2 tsp chili powder. The vegetarian chili is ready to cook, just cover and turn on low for 5-6 hours. 

In the saucepan you used for the veggies, crumble the ground beef and season with 1-2 dashes each of you seasonings and brown. Drain and add to the larger slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Serve with your favorite chili accompaniments and enjoy.

(Oh, BTW, if you don't have any omnivores in your household, just skip the meat part and you have the perfect pot, even for a vegan)

** I like to use the mini bell peppers so I can have a mix of colors
*** I've found it easiest to take the whole heart, rinse, spread it out just a bit to cut out the leaves on the inside, and then slice directly from the heart
**** we like the hot chili beans, but if you prefer your chili a bit milder you can use mild chili beans or plain pinto beans. Use whatever kinds of beans you prefer, you will need a total of 8 cans or about 120 oz

*FLEXETARIAN: you like that word? Yeah, me too. I just recently came across it, but it fits me perfectly, because I do still indulge in beef on occasion (and on even rarer occasion, pork), but now I'm more selective when I do and keep it to once a week, and am working on reducing it more until it's all but gone from my diet.

Here's what wikipedia says:
Flexitarianism is a semi-vegetarian diet focusing on vegetarian food with occasional meat consumption. A self-described flexitarian seeks to decrease meat consumption without eliminating it entirely from his or her diet. There are no guidelines for how much or how little meat one must eat before being classified a flexitarian. Flexitarian is distinguished from polpescetarian, i.e., one who eats only chicken and fish, but does so exclusively

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