Bulgur, or cracked wheat, replaces meat in this veggie-friendly chili. Photograph by Ali Eaves.
There’s nothing like a good hearty chili to warm you up during these cold January days. But chili is usually loaded with ground beef, which adds lots of cholesterol and saturated fat.
Lucky for us (and our waistlines), nutritionist Katherine Tallmadge created a vegan chili recipe with bulgur (cracked wheat), which provides substance and texture so you don’t miss the meat.
“This is a high-fiber dish that will clean people right out,” says Tallmadge, who first featured this recipe in her book Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations.
Fiber plays an important role in many components of health. “There are all kinds of evidence that when people eat fiber-rich food, they have a reduced risk for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes,” Tallmadge says. “They’re slimmer and have lower blood pressure.”
She also distinguishes between eating food that’s naturally rich in fiber (plant-based whole foods) and food that has had fiber added. “Chicory root is added to everything nowadays, from cereals to bars to yogurt,” she says. “But that’s processed, pulverized fiber. There are no proven benefits of eating added pulverized fiber.”
A serving of Tallmadge’s chili packs 14 grams of natural fiber, more than half of a woman’s daily fiber needs.
The sweet potatoes add a tasty twist as well as a healthy dose of beta-carotene, a potent antioxidant that aids the immune system, skin, vision, bones and reproduction, she says.
This recipe uses basic spices, which allows you to adjust it to taste. If, like us, you love your chili with a bit of a kick, add a tablespoon of brown sugar, a half teaspoon of cumin, and a few shakes of coriander and chipotle chili powder. Tallmadge serves the chili alongside a green salad for lunch or dinner, and says many people enjoy it as a dip for corn chips—just in time for the Super Bowl.
CHILI NON CARNE
Yield: 4 servings
Calories per serving: 350
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil, or more
1 large onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium sweet potato, diced
3 tablespoons hot chili powder
1 large fresh green pepper, chopped
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped, including the liquid
1 16-ounce can kidney or black beans, whichever is preferred
½ cup water
½ cup bulgur
2 seeded jalapeño peppers, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Sauté the onions, sweet potato, and garlic in the oil over low heat in a large pot until soft, 15 or more minutes.
2. Add the chili powder and simmer for a few more minutes.
3. Add the green pepper and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, soak the bulgur in ½ cup boiling water for 15 minutes.
4. Add all remaining ingredients, including the bulgur, and simmer slowly over low to medium heat until flavors are well blended and vegetables are cooked to the desired consistency—about an hour.
5. Adjust seasonings to your preference. Since many canned items were used, additional salt will probably not be needed.
Katherine Tallmadge is a registered and licensed dietitian and the president of the DC Metro Area Dietetic Association.