Squashing Chili Standards

Wow, how is it October over already?!

With the turn of a new month that means the experimentation for the best vegan chili must come to an end. This challenge has not only cleared my sinuses but helped me understand the heart of a good chili.

Before I took on this challenge, chili was just an excuse to empty my pantry with a sprinkle of chili powder. Now, I understand the difference between bases, stocks and found a method to accomplish that ideal umami flavor every bowl. Sure it takes a little more effort, but homemade stocks and chili pastes are worth the effort.

I began this challenge on the premise of 5 rules for an ideal chili. After my testing, it is time to rewrite the rules so that you can create the best fail-proof vegan chili every time.

4 Rules for the Best Vegan Chili

  1. Stock is boss. Homemade vegetable stock will add umami that is usually missing in a store bought veg stock. Check out the two stock recipes I stand by here and here. In a rush? Fortify your store bought stock with dried shitake mushrooms, miso and toasted walnuts. Allow to boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes. strain and use.

  2. Chile paste or bust. Making your own chile paste allows for your to control the heat and flavor profiles of your chili. Chili paste allows for depth of flavor in your chili, as the various chilis hit your tastebuds you will get heat, smoke and char that can mimic the “meaty“ profiles of traditional chili.

  3. Beans, beans the magical fruit. Beans add body, creaminess and texture to your chili. This enhances the heartiness of the dish without interfering with flavor. Make sure your beans are sturdy and never overcooked. *If using canned beans make sure to add them in last so that they do not break down.

  4. Minimal tomato. Tomatoes add a slight sweetness to your chili base, enhancing the flavors of the chilies. However, I suggest stick to the paste, canned diced tomatoes can add too much water to your base interfering with the umami of your stock.


Without further ado below is the fourth and final vegan chili of this October Chili Challenge. I have combined my favorite components of the previous chilis - like rich chocolate, thick chile forward base and meaty jackfruit - into a full bodied and hearty chili.

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Butternut Squash and Jackfruit Chili

Yields 6-8 servings

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  • 6 ancho chilies, rehydrated

  • 2 monita chilies, rehydrated

  • 2 jalapenos

  • 6 oz tomato paste

  • 1 large yellow onion, small dice

  • 1 cup carrots, small dice

  • 1 cup celery, small dice

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 cup butternut squash, about 1 large squash, ½ inch dice

  • 1 green bell pepper, ½ inch dice

  • 2 tbsp ground cumin

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • ½ tsp ground ginger

  • 1 can jackfruit

  • 2 cans beans, I used black beans and red kidney beans

  • 3 oz dark chocolate

  • 5 cups Brown Stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Place jalapenos on a sheet tray and roast for 15 minutes, until tender and starting to slit out of the skin.

2. Soak dried chilies in boiling water, for 30 minutes, until rehydrated and pliable.

3. Drain and rinse jackfruit, place into a small bowl and shred into bite size pieces. Toss in 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika and salt. Place onto a sheet tray and roast for 20-25 minutes until slightly browned.

4. In a large soup pot, heat 3 tbsp olive oil and add diced onion, carrot, celery, garlic and salt. Sauté until vegetables are tender and onions are translucent.

5. Add cumin, oregano, paprika and ginger. Allow to toast for about 2 minutes until fragrant.

6. Add diced butternut squash and bell pepper. Reduce heat to medium, to avoid burning,  allow to sauté for 10 minutes.

7. In a medium bowl or blender add tomato paste, jalepenos, chiles and ¼ cup water. Blend until smooth, adding more water if needed.

8. Add the chile mixture to the soup pot stirring to combine.

9. Add 4-5 cups of brown stock. Allow mix to cook on low until butternut squash is cooked through 10- 15 minutes.

10. Add in roasted jackfruit, drained beans and dark chocolate. Stir to combine.

11. Simmer for at least 10- 20 minutes for flavors to melt together.

12. Serve it up! Top it with diced avocado, red onion and cilantro.  





Macadamia Butter Cups

I have one word for you, decadence.

Imagine sitting on the beach in a tropical paradise, relaxing with a drink in your hand just as the sun sets.  You’re peaceful, content, maybe even a little sunburned… Oh, sorry! That was just your taste buds being transported to their happy place with one bite of these Macadamia Butter Cups. We’ve kicked peanut butter to the curb with this one as we update a classic treat. These Macadamia Butter Cups are delicious with a little nutrients mixed in.

Macadamia nuts are surely the star of the show in these cups, packed with healthy fats, fiber, minerals and antioxidants. The macadamia nut has a unique balance between Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids, providing an anti-inflammatory reaction to the cardiovascular system. This may help reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease.

In addition, macadamia nuts have a high fiber content (1oz = 2.3g) and anti-oxidant properties due to their flavonoid content.  Flavonoids occur naturally to protect the macadamia plant from environmental toxins, however, in the body flavonoids are turned into free-radical fighting antioxidants protecting our bodies from various toxins and disease.

Just as you thought this dessert couldn’t get any better… we folded the buttery, macadamia nuts with coconut butter creating a luscious, tropical combination. Lucky for you, coconut butter is also loaded with its own set of nutrients. Similar to the benefits of coconut oil, coconut butter is packed with lauric acid, healthy fats, amino acids and calcium.

So put down the Reese’s and get your hands on something you can feel proud about.


Macadamia Coconut Butter Cups

Serves 12

Filling

  • ¾ cups coconut butter, melted
  • 1 cup Mauna Loa chopped macadamia nuts, soaked
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Chocolate Coating

  • 16 oz dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Directions

  1. In a food processor combine all of the ingredients for the filling. Blend until smooth and set aside.
  2. Over a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
  3. In a lined cupcake pan, portion 1 ½ tablespoons of the melted chocolate onto the bottom of each muffin liner. Place in the freezer until set, approximately 10 minutes.
  4. On top of the chocolate bases, spoon 1 tablespoon of the macadamia filling. Spread the filling into an even layer that does not reach the edge of the cups. Cover the filling with another 1 ½ tablespoons layer of melted chocolate, ensuring that chocolate covers the filling entirely.
  5. Place back into the freezer until set, at least 20 minutes. Once set, enjoy!

Pip Pip Hooray!

Walking through any grocery store you can tell the popcorn scene is well... poppin. But I am not talking about the microwavable double movie theater butter popcorn or the sugar ridden caramel corn, the new kids on the block are popping corn with a little less guilt and a whole lot of flavor. 

With so many options on the shelves it is hard to distinguish which colorful bag is going to satisfy your late night cravings, that is until I discovered PipCorn. The crunchy, salty, and slightly sweet stuff has got me hooked for a delicious anytime snack. From beautiful packaging to miniature popcorn kernels, they are bringing a new twist to the popcorn craze. 

ALTHOUGH I have been known to take down a whole bag of PipCorn on my own, I love how easy it is to incorporate in to various recipes. The smaller kernels make the popcorn easier to work with in both sweet and savory recipes. Below are a few ideas to keep your snack drawer full and your taste buds happy. 

 

Truffle Rosemary Trail Mix

Yield about 3 cups

  • 1 cup raw almonds 
  • 1 cup raw walnuts 
  • 1/2 cup Raw Peeled Tigernuts 
  • 1-2 cups Truffle Pipcorn
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp truffle salt or truffle oil 
  • zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

  1. In a small sauce pan melt the coconut oil
  2. Add rosemary and cumin to oil, cook until fragrant
  3. Remove from heat stir in raw nuts, tiger nuts and salt (if using truffle oil add at this point.)
  4. Pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet, bake for 10-12 minutes until nuts are lightly toasted
  5. Remove from oven and transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet to cool. while nuts are still warm, sprinkle with lemon zest and truffle salt 
  6. Toss with Truffle Pipcorn 
  7. Garnish with rosemary leaves and enjoy! 
 

Vegan Popped Cherry Cookies

Yeild 18 large cookies

  • 1 flax egg ( 1 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 tbsp water ) 
  • 1/2 cup earth balance butter 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 tsp vanilla 
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, place in 1/4 cup wine and 1/4 cup water for at least 10 minutes and drain
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup Pipcorn Kettle Corn (or Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  1. In a small bowl combine flax + water, set aside for at least 10 minutes
  2. In a large bowl, or stand mixer, cream earth balance and sugars together until well incorporated and light in color
  3. Add vanilla, flax egg and to butter mixture. Beat until smooth
  4. In a small bowl sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together. Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture
  5. Fold the cherries, chocolate chips and Popcorn Kettle Corn into the batter
  6. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes
  7. Once chilled, scoop the cookies using an ice cream scoop or heaping tbsp measure 
  8. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12- 15 minutes
  9. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, to ensure the cookie is set and dig in