If you’re planning to eat healthier in 2017, I want to challenge you to start eating more meatless meals while you’re at it. Studies have shown that the more plant foods you include in your diet, the lower your risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, some cancers, obesity and diabetes. Eating more plants can also boost energy levels and promote weight loss, since they are low in calories but still packed with beneficial fiber and nutrients.
More and more research is coming out that is supporting vegetarian diets as a healthy eating pattern for people of all ages. In America everyone is always focused on what meat they are going to have at their meals. “We’re having steak for dinner”… okay, but what else? Try to shift your focus away from the meat occasionally, and instead, consider everything else that should fill up your plate, like whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits.
I am definitely not ready to go 100% veggie (I still love my chicken and fish); however, I am trying to keep all the benefits of a plant-based diet in mind and incorporate more meatless meals on a daily basis. It can be tricky if you’re not used to it, but once you identify some sources of plant-based protein that you enjoy to build your meals around, it becomes pretty effortless. There are so many soy products on the shelves these days that can easily be swapped out for meat, such as Morning Star veggie patties (instead of burgers) and meatless veggie crumbles, which I love to sprinkle on my homemade veggie flatbreads and zoodles.
The particular recipe I’m about to share with you includes two of my favorite things: sweet potatoes and black beans. Growing up I wouldn’t go near a bean, so it’s crazy to say now that they are one of my favorite foods. I don’t like to eat beans by the spoonful by any means, but I love to add them to recipes whenever I possibly can. Why? Because I’ll never forget what one of my preceptors said to me during my dietetic internship: “If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one food with you, it should be beans. They are one of the healthiest foods because they provide everything you need.” Think about it. They’ve got tons of fiber, plant-based protein, and they are a great source of complex carbohydrates. They’re also loaded with vitamins and minerals, and low in fat. You really can’t go wrong. Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The song was right all along.
So, needless to say, beans are providing most of the plant-based protein in this delicious meatless chili, and if you throw some avocado on top at the end, you’ve got yourself a good dose of healthy fats as well.
I think this meal could easily be made with meat by cooking up some lean ground chicken or turkey beforehand spiced up with cumin and chili powder, then added to the mix. I’ll try that sometime and see how it turns out, as I’m sure my fiance would miss the meat component.
The original recipe said it only takes 25 minutes, but I’m going to be honest and tell you it took me longer than that. (Taking pictures/videos of the process for my Instagram story along the way probably didn’t help, combined with other distractions.) However, this is a recipe you could easily prep ahead of time by chopping up the sweet potatoes and onions, measuring out the spices, and draining/rinsing the canned goods and throwing them in a Ziploc storage bag in the fridge, so the next day you could throw everything together super quickly. This would be a great meal to prep ahead on a Sunday night to make for Meatless Monday or a Mexican-themed Taco Tuesday dinner, sans tacos. 😉
Original recipe credit goes out to Target Recipes! I tweaked it just a bit. I also want to apologize that I didn’t take great pictures of the process. Like I said, I snapped some pictures and videos for my Instagram story, but I neglected to take quality shots for this post. OOPS. My brain was clouded by hunger. Don’t worry — this will definitely be on the menu again very soon, and I’ll update with new pictures then! 🙂
Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
This chili is the perfect Meatless Monday dinner! It’s super easy to make, healthy, delicious & packed with plant-based protein! It also makes great leftovers for quick and healthy work lunches. What more could you ask for?
Makes 6-8 servings
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 32 oz reduced-sodium chicken broth*
- 3 medium unpeeled sweet potatoes cut into ¾-inch cubes, about 4 cups (or 1- 16 ounce package of cubed sweet potatoes)
- 1- 15.5 ounce can no salt added diced tomatoes
- 1 cup corn, frozen or canned
- 1 lime (use juice of 1/2 lime, and other 1/2 as garnish)
- 2 (15.5-ounce) cans no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed
- Optional toppings: chopped avocado, wedges of fresh lime, plain Greek yogurt
- Whole Grain Tortilla Chips or Beanitos Chips
*Substitute vegetable broth to make this meal totally veggie.
Heat olive oil in 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and minced garlic. Sauté for 3 or 4 minutes until onion is translucent. Add spices; cook and stir about a minute until fragrant using a spatula.
Add broth, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and corn. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat, then cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender.
Stir in black beans and squeeze the juice of 1/2 lime over the top. Heat through for 3-5 more minutes.
Serve with toppings of choice and tortilla chips.
I enjoyed mine with 1/4 an avocado, a large dollop of plain Greek yogurt, lime, and some whole grain chips! YUM!
Now go whip up this chili ASAP! You will not regret it. ??
Shanna Stewart, RD, LD